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Everything posted by Wally

  1. IFR is the 'easy' management answer to safety: They can buy a lot of gear cheaper than one crash. Do they support you in proficiency flights? IFR proficiency is your only real safety net. I've been inadvertent a few times over the years, IFR is a lot more relaxed than trying to return to VMC. "I like seeing while I fly" but the truth is I'm to busy flying to enjoy the scenery. I'm analyzing, looking for trends, seeking 'better' anything- well, everything- until I log the flight. I'm 'on the gauges VFR almost as much as I am IFR. The area I flew is MVFR or better 99% of the year- ceilings being the usual issue. The northwestern half was the Smokies: they make their own weather.
  2. BSTROH- "What is typically considered "desirable"? I'm not much of a big city person, so living rurally is desirable for me - I realize that may be in opposition to flying regularly. Something I'll have to weight out with my wife." That's open to individual interpretation. Talk to people at the base if you can, get a feel. Are you 'outdoorsy'? Then a base near good streams, trails, whatever, but a place with the basics of civilized life- restaurants, groceries, schools for the kiddos. There are a couple real nice bases in my former ao that were considered desirable on those basis. Some pretty nice suburban bases too. All of'em were happy bases when I retired, immediate management kept a lid on the usual EMS issues, crews, pilots, mechs. Not so certain of that now. No way I'd go to a base in the states between Georgia and Texas. Well, maybe Southwestern Louisiana, below I-10. I like cajuns, me, yeah.
  3. !6 years with Rocky, which was purchased lock stock and barrel by Air Methods, from which I retired in 2017. They 'grandfathered' the non-instrument pilots, but I don't think they bring nuggets aboard w/out the IFR rating. My opinion is that company doesn't much matter as long as they honor their contracts. Base relations, immediate management is more important than the company. A happy base and management that back the pilot is the answer. Most aircraft are not IFR legal, IFR ships are usually at specialized hospitals- burn centers, pediatric, etc. If they are desirable bases senior pilots will have those locked up. Recurrent will have a substantial IFR component, you will struggle if you're not proficient.They expect you to practice between recurrents even though you're doing so in VFR. I think Inadvertent is more common in HEMS because of the unpredictability of the calls. I waited at scenes, transferring hospitals as long as 8 hours. The weather can change a lot over they length of time and if you're remote then you won't have reporting stations nearby that reflect your local conditions. You are expected to abort those transports if you're not IFR equipped and approved. (The VFR minimums are real. Adhere to them rigidly!) Your chances of getting a particular, desirable base assignment are exceedingly small bases are filled by seniority in the bidding process. I would not sign on for a particular hospital. The hospital would have you by the short hairs and they can, generally speaking, ask for another pilot to replace you if you're not 'cooperative'. Community based operations are more stable, less political and the majority of the fleet. Having an 'in' is useful in that you may have an idea of which bases are 'hard to fill'. You may want an assignment in Scufflegrit, Hardscrabble if that's where you, your family live. I loved the job but it didn't fly enough, I think the average when I left was about 150 hours a year, a third, quarter being night flights. I prefer nights and with NVGs being common, I greatly preferred nights. You can (usually) see much, much better with NVGs than you can in daylight- uniform light level and contrast even for small, distant objects.
  4. Hitting the 4, 5 and 6 lane surface routes into, out of the city at rush hour.... Which is, now, anytime except 1-3 am. Yeah, I want to share those skies with the 'drivers' who are lap-topping their work. High-speed subway/surface rail, extended well out into the exurbs.
  5. Rotor diameter 19.5 feet and length 16 feet? From that I'm estimating the total length from the forward edge of the rotor disk to the aftermost edge of the tail rotor to be 24, 25 feet. Some operators I've worked for allow operation with 10 feet clearance all around, but most insist on 15 feet or better. That would mean minimum 19.5 disk plus 10 each side 40 feet wide 45 feet long. You will be very busy maintaining that 10 foot rotor clearance all around, but repeated operation and some useful landmarks, it can be done. The tail rotor always worried me, it's behind and low, not easily viewed from the pilot seat. A significant strike and things could go sideways pretty quickly. You would probably find at that point that your neighbors' 'being aware' isn't real protection from complaints much less liability. Traffic control is also a significant issue: who keeps the streets and driveways clear? All in all, I would hangar it rather than operate from a populated area.
  6. I liked the LH250. It's not the lightest, but I guess I got used to it. I liked the way the ear cups are mounted, part of the helmet liner. Spread the hard-shell at the strap-mounts, don the helmet and release the tension and it closes around your head. And that brings me to what I don't like- the ear cups fray/wear with donning and doffing the padded edges fray/wear as well, need replacing every year or so. The actual liner comes out for washing so that funk doesn't get to overwhelming. The frickin' visors, cover is kind of a pain to remove and clean, replace. On a tangent- visors, like a base ball cap visor. Never jury rigged one that worked. It get's to be a pain to constantly put your hand up to block the sun so you can scan that part of the sky. (NO, the tinted panels don't help) I'd by a couple if somebody produced them...
  7. There are similarities helicopter to airplane operating airport to airport. But, that's not where helicopters are most useful. A helo is to go where there are no airports, perhaps no actual facility at all. Often, the destinations are ad hoc: okay, we need something, here, now; or this that the other thing or somebody needs to be somewhere. Unimproved, improvised destinations are also often far from weather reporting. You deal with the weather you see from the pilot seat, not the area/terminal forecast. These aspects of using a helicopter were why the US Army spent three-quarters of flight school time developing skills beyond stick wiggling before the candidate was a qualified aviator. (Old guy leans back, looks at ceiling and sighs) When you're between 500 and 1000 hours stick time you know enough to get in real deep, in situations you would have avoided before, and which you would learn how to deal with later- often that means not doing it the way you thought it would be done before you had thousands of hours. I know I did things very, very differently at 5000+ than I did before....
  8. A suggestion: Join the AOPA. Yeah, it's an airplane driver club, but they have an excellent section providing medical advice and assistance. Used it for decades to great benefit. The magazine is worth a read, as well.
  9. Instruct. Let the student pay for the flight time. Get Robbie qualified and teach, network and build some time. 1500 hours in your log book is pretty limited experience in the aviation world.
  10. I worked a job for 15 years in which I went back and forth, often daily, flying AS350 and any of the 206s, B's and L's. Not only were the Aerospat controls boosted, the main rotor turned in the opposite direction. It could be, uh- 'interesting' on the first lift. The first time you lift in the novel airframe, do it as slow as possible, then touchdown, also as slow as possible. Think the process through and critique and then plan the next exercise. Going back and forth between Aerospats and Bells, I tried to lift each skid toe, then the heels, get to the appropriate stable hover attitude before I lifted the last skid heel. And that's where the excitement happened on the first lift, not having enough roll angle to hold place.... But I digress- A couple repeats of the exercise was generally enough to start understanding the aircraft tendencies, give me an intellectual base. Knowing what's gonna happen next and starting the correction before the effect is obvious is the key. The Aerospats tail rotor seemed much stronger and quicker, and with the boosted pedals made it easier to overcontrol, so I worked with gradual anticipatory application, easier to remove an overcorrection than catch a mistake. The Bells were slower, seemed weaker and the pedals were heavier, but the same technique- anticipate and start the push before the yaw needs correction. Again, easier to minimize, slow the control input than to catch and correct. Never even sat in a Robbie, so a question that comes from my past- is there a change in pilot seating, R44 vs R22, especially seat height, distance to nose? That affected my perception of what the bird was doing, trends between each aircraft. Just something to think about if it's so. The Aerospats could trend away from desired more quickly than the Bells because I sat higher and had less nose in sight. Just wondering.
  11. Exactly correct and I can't emphasize the point enough. It's easy to learn "wrong" and hard to unlearn "wrong". Especially with as little applicable experience as you apparently have. I appreciate your wanting to learn, but procedures are best taught person to person and hands on the hardware. Unteaching is really, really hard in that scenario. You might think about why you asked experienced people here for information but felt it important to point out- Twice? I've got more experience than that crashing (more or less) helicopters. Some of the posters here shade that level of experience by magnitudes. Systems, limits, structures, dimensions, etc. can be usefully studied before seat time. If you have access to the aircraft, even better, the book data starts to be knowledge. If you have supervised access, you can have the thingamabob pointed out as part of the system. The very, very best way is a physical examination, first with a pilot and then with a mechanic, with panels open or removed. The two realms of knowledge are different... Never stop learning, never stop self critiques and accepting criticism. And never, ever skip anything.
  12. nothing to do with your getting an Army flight school seat, but.... Retired career pilot, Vietnam, IP/CFI, off-shore and then HEMS for the last 16 of 48 years. The last quarter century of my career I used corrective lenses having developed presbyopia, and did so until I retired. I thought what the heck, I wore protective lenses and sunglasses all the time anyhow, so... The year I retired my physical disclosed developing cataracts. So, I had the presbyopic lens exchange, with vision correcting refracting lenses implants. I kick myself for waiting until after my flying career to get my eyes fixed. Yeah, it was a thing and it scared the bejeesus out of me. No, I'm not 20/15 again, but I forgot how the world looked through my own eyes Do it now, if you want to fly. If nothing else, it's a pain carrying a spare pair of glasses, contacts, whatever. Losing a lens in flight single pilot, really, truly sucks. Don't go with the cheapest provider, even if you have to pay the whole tab. This is something you want the best of.
  13. In the olden days, like 40 years ago, I met a fair few working professional pilots who did not do the CFI/CFII thing to build hours- they started their own helicopter businesses. A couple examples that I can recall that were notable- one bought and sold aircraft; the other developed a specialized use for the aircraft, and I won't say more about that lest I violate a proprietary system he's still selling. The military is the best way to get your ticket and the hours, but it's kind of a crap shoot as to how much time you'll build while serving- you are a soldier first, last and always- if they don't need you flying you'll still be soldiering/sailing/Marine-ing and Air Forceing. And I believe it's competitive as heck- if you ain't well 'above average' (just below Superman)? Don't even bother. I agree with hand granade's post- overseas guys come here to learn to fly because they have a job back home. Do tuna boats still fly? Other than that, teach and scrounge hours until you can give rides, tours and qualify for something else.
  14. As much off-airport operation as you can get, especially nights. Especially nights, and enough unaided night that night vision goggles are an aid, not a crutch. I thought my instructional experience a benefit, I could explain and narrate the plan, which went a long way to keeping the crew not only comfortable and in the loop, but useful, too.
  15. I don't know about now, but I enlisted in the Vietnam era Army with a guaranteed WORWAC slot and at least one tour in Vietnam certain after that. I intended an Army career, but the reality was not what I expected of the Army. That's my excuse for being a poor officer but a pretty good pilot. My impression of the current military, at least the Army, is of a far more professional officer corps and an extremely professional, competent force as a whole. Perhaps this is the difference between the time of my service, a service that had been wrung out in budget war, immediately post-peak Vietnam War, with a large segment of draftees cycling through, draining assets with repetitious training only to have most exit after their obligatory active service. I don't think that entirely explains the qualitative difference, however. The best of my cohort were a match for anybody serving now, but the median quality is much, much higher in the present force, aviators and 'straight legs'.
  16. A couple decades ago I had a lot of loitering in an AS355 (whatever they're called these days) so I experimented a bit with cross controlling. That a/c had no force trim, only friction. A couple fundamentals I believe are true of helicopters: In forward flight, they have some yaw stability according to power, airspeed, the tail will try to stay behind the nose; Next they have some pitch stability, and will return to the same disc angle of attack, more or less; And almost no roll stability., Established at a cruise, friction the cyclic and collective, hold pedals. The 355 usually gradually rolled off the right and pitch down, oscillating nose up and down, but increasing the bank. If I induced a roll to the left, with pedals or a power reduction, my memory is that the aircraft would start the same process, increasing roll, pitching down but would eventually roll level, pitch up and then start the start the right roll, nose down process in the paragraph above. Never tried this experiment in a 2-blade Bell and never flown a Robbie, but Bells seem to have more airspeed/pitch stability than the 350/355. Their rotors turn in opposite directions, so your right bank is equivalent to the left in the 350/355, which did return to a wings level but nose up, before they diverged to the right. I think that trend is part of the trim stability of each design, and the Bell/Robbie is more stable in the airspeed pitch trim and will diverge over a longer period, to the left.
  17. Thoghts- any charter operator must train you on their airframe, give you a checkride. Having some time in it is a plus in the hiring process but they still have to train you, 10 hours or 10,000 hours. Same for twin engine, nvg. A new pilot should avoid HEMS like an STD. Start a HEMS job with 1500 hours and retire after 40 years with 7500 hours flying the same stick (or worse than) you hired on with. You will never have 'pushed weather", done a lot of stupid stuff that teaches you not to do that! Wait until at least 3000 hours and a job next door to go HEMS.
  18. 1500-2000 hours is a more reliable standard for being widely employable. With an IFR ticket and some IFR experience, night time. A year, give or take to get your basic ratings. 4-5 hours a week through your private, then you can pick up the pace to an hour plus a day. Weather, aircraft availability are always a factor adding delay. There's a fair bit of book time required to learn the rules, regs, take the tests, etc. I've seen some really good small schools and some really good big schools. And vice versa. A big school will offer you options when an aircraft is down or your progress plateaus. That will happen. The instructor-student relationship is what you're looking for. Sometimes a really good instructor can't find the key to understand your issues in the process and teach you through it A favorable local climate is a plus, more flying days means more efficient instruction. You should be willing to move to get these things. You should be willing to travel to find these things. After your first 5-10 hours, you'll have a better idea whether this is what you want to do. It's not flying around listening to tunes and sight-seeing- it's work. As far as I know, there are three paths to the door to the career: The military; Pay your own way, all the way. I know pilots who have done this, live stark, work hard, save money between ratings, and then buy time until they find a job. Another way I've seen this done: start a helicopter company; Instruct, build a network in the industry. Even with a busy school, it can take years to get to 1500-2000. Variation- fly tours as soon as you can get a job. The money seems to be more regular in tours and you can fly a lot with some tour jobs. You are going to move at least a couple times in the process. To the school, to the instructing/tour job, to the next and the next. Even when you get the long term employer, the positions move around. Money? minimum wage up to $100k.
  19. The reality is somewhere between 2-5 years after you start training before you're going to be generally employable. The low side is if you're picked up by a flight school, fly a lot of students and establish a useful aviation network. The high side is where the persistent finally find work and the rest drop out. $100k, 2-5 years, and then 50-60 hours a week on the job in Bumscrabble nowhere, moving the family every year or so?
  20. If the choice is between one or the other and for in-flight use only then I would go (and did) with a lip light, green and white. Tried a finger light only once and found it awkward, limited. But I also carry a small flashlight, that defaults to as dim as I can find, 0.2 to 0.5 lumens, white.
  21. Yes, 206s had/have blade sailing issues in the GoM as did any helicopter that wasn't equipped with some variation of the rigid rotor system. It's been 25 years since I flew the GoM, but I did tens of thousands of starts in 206Bs, Long Rangers, TwinStars and 412s. I've started them in winds up to 50 knots. Yes, you 'fly the blades' as they accelerate, but one is actually trying to keep the whole disk at the neutral. By the time a blade starts sailing, there's nothing you can do to stop it bouncing other than try to get the disk back to neutral. If you start trying to damp the sailing blade with cyclic, you destabilize other blades. I don't recall ever having a blade sailing issue 'on the beach'- that is, on a clear, flat surface, like a a pad on a base heliport, a ramp or an runway, except in very gusty conditions. Even then it was much easier to control than on an offshore pad. The blade sailing issue is most serious in the lee of with turbulent flow, but especially challenging if you're near the edge of the pad on a structure with marked vertical surfaces up to the pad and minimal pad overhang. Being at the upwind or downwind edge was very difficult, you were somewhat better off on either side. If one could relocate the bird towards the center of the pad, the turbulent flow becomes a little more predictable, but one could not always do that. Whatever, you have to have the wind on the nose or it becomes very difficult to decide which way to move the cyclic- the individual blades aren't strongly affected by gyroscopic precession until they get some rotational speed. I have tried the rotor brake trick, but you have to be very careful with that and not allow the engine to develop much torque through the drive train. I almost never ever used the brake in that way. Never did the broom, don't want anybody under the disk if I am not assured of control. My suggestions for dealing with blade sailing issues is nose into the wind, cyclic centered, and away from the lee turbulence. If you have any question at all about starting in the lee, move the helo out of it. Using the ground handling wheels is far less embarrassing than a tailboom strike. Anecdotes on offshore structural turbulence- I was offshore one morning on my base pad with some of the station crew helping me untie blades, aircraft tie downs and then skid it into the wind. Yep, them Twinstar blades [same-same Astar] are flexible and were bouncing. I heard 'whack', looked to right front and one of the station crew was standing there, said the blade above had just struck his hard hat a good lick. I've seen those blades bounce down almost to waist level in in front. I've seen 206 blades flex down to 4-5 feet of vertical after hitting the hub stop and rocking the transmission pretty good. Another time I was trying to put a crew on a structure that had a rooftop pad, no overhanging edges, atop a single level 60'x60' quarters structure. It was one of those cold, gray, drizzly winter days with almost 40 knots blowing but steady. The seabirds don't like those days anymore than people do, so there was a bunch of'em on the pad. One comes in very slow and as far downwind as possible so the flying sea rats don't go though your disk. The last bird went to the upwind edge, launched and got a couple feet straight up, blew back across the pad, and was then blown down onto the pad. The embarrassed gull scrambled back to the upwind edge and tried three more takeoffs and crashes before he went to a corner and successfully launched. Gulls are very strong flyers, very agile, although you mostly see them soaring.
  22. I'd like to know how you know this? "...the pilot kept flying after conditions deteriorated and bypassed two safe airfields before flying it into the ground." Do I believe that weather was a possible factor? I knew too many good pilots who fatally pushed weather to discard the possibility. But I don't know enough to fault this pilots judgement, this accident has all the signs of a fatal IIMC CFIT. Pushing weather will kill you, dead, amen, in an IFR aircraft with an IFR capable and current pilot. If this was a weather accident as it appears, this would be a perfect example of that. I spent a significant part of my career working with minimums of 300' ceilings and 2 mile vis for cross-country, off shore, and 300/1 on the beach or in the field. The routine single engine minimums at that time were 500/3 offshore cross-country. It can be done, and in aircraft significantly less capable than the accident aircraft and by pilots with significantly less experience than this pilot had. I have read other forum's posters say that a weather precautionary landing invites regulator attention. In 48 years of flying, uncounted weather precautionary landings and numerous recoveries of other pilots aircraft after weather landings- I never, ever heard of regulator investigation. Even an RON in the aircraft is better than waking up in a hospital.
  23. Googled grey nomex flight suit. Germany? My flight suit class (69-17) was issues grey cotton flight suits that had to be retreated periodically with a fire retardant. Big tub of something that one dunked the flight suit in, air dry.
  24. I've worn polarized sunglasses for the last 35 years of my career, the last 10 exclusively with Garmins in the panel. The Garmins are LED displays, very different than LCD displays. The only issues I ever had were long ago with an obscure nav that had the b&w lcd screen and another instance with an aircraft with a contracter-installed front windscreen that was stressed in the install resulting in 'rainbows' on the flex lines where the plexi/lexan had been forced into the frame. Why sunglasses with a visor? First, the helmets had only single visors, so I opted for clear and eye protection day and night. Next, I prefer a brown polarized lens with at least 20% transmissivity, last couple years with Oakly Bottle Rockets. The brown and polarized increase contrast while being useful in a more lighting situations than standard visors. Especially advantageous in precip. Not flown a lot of glass cockpits and no military in 50 years, so actual mileage may vary.
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