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Wally

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Everything posted by Wally

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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?
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. What Nearly Retired said: Not everybody can do this; not everybody who can do it can make a living at it; and if you get there, become a professional helicopter pilot and are being paid for it- you will start by making very little and you will most likely work in 'the middle of nowhere', that's where and what helicopters do, mostly. You have to want it more than anything, period. Because it ain't really a logical financial decision for the first few years. Even without the $60,000 debt load or equivalent, there were very, very humble years. Yes, there are 'better' jobs after a couple years and a thousand, fifteen hundred hours (or more) but the first couple years are lean, at best. All that said- you are at the worst point of the training process, nearing but not yet soloed. It doesn't get any easier after the solo, at least for me, but the solo was an encouraging and significant point in the process. Everybody struggles with the book work, you're learning arcane regulatory, technical stuff. Have you tried a different instructor? Not every teacher hits the mark with every student. Could you change schools? Why would you want to stop at PPL if your goal is commercial? Interrupting the training process is almost always a problem. And, training won't get any cheaper in the future. P.S. It ain't 'cheaper or easier' to go the military route. It's extremely competitive, even when there was a war on. Then, Uncle Sam makes you dress funny and is real bossy, sending you to places where people don't like you.
  10. I enjoyed Bob Mason's 'Chickenhawk' a great deal. It gives a taste of that war, but that's a very very different Army Aviation than the modern professional Army. We were 'Soldiers Once' is also a good read, but less aviation. The best of the best is Mike Novosel's, I think it was "Dustoff"? An absolute classic narration of the life of an honest hero, who exemplified everything that Army aviators aspire to be.
  11. It doesn't matter how deep your pockets are or how significant your professional actions were, the pilot will be named and will have to respond legally, professional representation is a good idea. I have never heard of a pilot found liable by a default judgement in not contesting the suit, but I think that is a possibility.
  12. You got off easy, Butters. The pearl of wisdom in the industry is that "Every pilot will climb into the cockpit one last time. But not every pilot will know it." Gosh dern, I miss flying. Oh, to be 42 again!
  13. Without knowing what airframe the 'issue' occurs in, I'll say that some feedback, crossing controls is present but minimized by design in the 'mixing' mechanism. That's the assembly in which cyclic and collective adjustments are consolidated to affect change to the swashplate.
  14. Kinda off the topic, but fear of heights - acrophobia is common in the human population, even pilots. Perhaps especially pilots, I have heard that mentioned. I applaud NR's decision to decline to put you on the line, however. The hardest part of flying is the dedication to the stuff one could probably skip today... Preflight, planning, W&B, all that other bull. Especially on job so routine you could do it in your sleep. Then it's not just today that you skip something. And then you're skipping stuff routinely. And then you crash. That attitude is exactly why I retired. Forty-something years of flying and I was forcing myself out to check the aircraft, and in particular, dreading the next training session. I'm not a great stick and I know it, but I always prided myself on the work, all the work, the details, detail knowledge and my drive to do it each and every time the best that I could. When I started taking shortcuts, I realized, the job isn't as important as it once was to me. Time to quit before I embarrass myself. Or kill somebody. Attention to detail, devotion to the process in full made a shoddy stick acceptable for forty something years. Fear of heights, yessir! I got it. It scared the crap outta me offshore, frequently. The reality that I could land short and tip off, backwards or too far to the off-side from the pilot's seat... Or walking to the edge of the deck, a hundred feet or better off the water and then down the stairwell. I took guys new to off-shore and watched them crawl to the landing at the top of the stairs. You can beat it, but you have to work it out of your system, exposure to and tolerance of each situation. Never had a problem if I could grab and hold, etc., I used to climb. But I don't do high balconies, pedestrian suspension bridges, etc., even though I was thoroughly acclimated to the decks and ladders offshore... You just gotta want it more than you fear it.
  15. I'm kinda with Butters on this- do a HOGE to confirm your by-the-book calculations. The method I was taught- calculate your by the book numbers. Fly to the destination. High recon. While at altitude and wherever you are safe and comfortable decel to a zero airspeed, note power used to hold this hover and then resume safe airspeed. Adjust from the zero airspeed hover readings for added load and power to climb. Now you know, not just a swag, but a fair estimate of power available versus what you need. Example, in a AS350 (it's been decades since I flew anything else and longer since a recip)- Fly to the proposed LZ, say at 2000 MSL, I'm at 3000. Another disclaimer here- pretty much anything below 4000 MSL and 90° F and I don't need to adjust for altitude in a B2 or B3. Adjust for your aircraft and engine. Circle a couple times on a high recon and plan the approach, landing and departure. Approach leg into the wind over safest forced landing areas, I'll swing a little wide on the base leg, turn final and zero out airspeed, observe power readings and resume final approach leg. I don't add climb power at a zero HOGE... There are two critical numbers in an AS350- torque (TQ) and NG/N1- the rule of thumb is 70 lbs lift for 1% TQ (torque) available before the limit and/or 200 lbs for each 1% NG. If TQ and NG at the zero airspeed hover allow for planned load (and a fudge factor- cut yourself some slack when you can) and I have sufficient power for planned climb-out (another whole topic) then I'm good to go.
  16. Jed- Everybody flying professionally started with zero flight time. Everybody flying professionally went through a vigorous process of elimination, even after getting all the certificates necessary to work at it. It's possible, but it is a long and difficult process. Most, if not the great, vast majority who start will not make a career out of it. The real cull is after you get your license- a 200 hour new commercial pilot is almost unemployable- teach others or hustle, scrounge for flight time over 2-5 years. An emphasis on safety and precision is more than important, it's a matter of survival. I am biased as I am a solitary person, I enjoy solitude. I also enjoy working with people, I like people. Important as a professional pilot, most of your work will be relating to people. Even the flying involves determining what exactly does this next flight require of me? You'll have to be able to determine that by interacting with people, who really don't know what they're asking you to do. If I were going to quibble, it would be with this: 'As for pay, it seems the wages exponentially with experience and most are near my income while working half the hours.' Perhaps you're confusing seven days on seven days off, a common schedule, as only half the hours? Those are usually 14 hour days and sometimes longer. I don't think I ever had a 40 hour work week flying, my average over the year was the equivalent of a 60 hour week. Not flying, my highest annual flight time was 1100 hours, just time on the job. I worked the Gulf of Mexico for 14 years just after that phase of the industry peaked. The average pilot in my company flew 4-500 hours a year out of 2600 hours on the job annually. One would spend a little bit more than an hour of other work for every hour one flew, there, then. A lot of time watching TV (at best) or sitting in the helo waiting... There are jobs that fly much, much less- I also did 14 years of HEMS, averaging 150 hours a year. At that rate, I dd approximately 2 hours of work related to aviation for every hour I flew. I got my training and basic qualifications in the Army- high school, flight school and VIetnam. The military will train you and pay you. They also make you dress funny and boss you around a lot. Compensation is increasing for pilots as the number of jobs decrease. Not a great deal of improvement at the beginner's end of the scale, but later as a journeyman professional. Automation, UAVs will take a lot of jobs from in-the-seat pilots. ALL helicopter pilot jobs are essentially free-lance, traveling jobs. Even with a union contract and at an established HEMS program, almost three-quarters of the bases and attached pilot jobs closed or moved. And that was the most stable pilot job I ever had, I took that seat to be ome every night. Mostly I was. I'd be happy to communicate directly, but I retired two years ago and have been out of the job market since my last interview for HEMS...
  17. I can't fly a helicopter sim either. I've done different company 'cockpit procedures training devices' or whatever the legalistic term is for non-loggable simulators. I've done a couple 'full motion' simulators, too., and I can't land or lift in them, and can only approximate a hover in them, so don't feel bad. I have more than a hundred thousand helicopter landings in my log and the worst of them was better than the best I ever did in a sim. I can fly a sim like an airplane, but that's entirely different than a helicopter. I fly real helicopters like I walk- I see what's happening and I change it to what I want. Sometimes the dials and gauges affect how that's done but mostly it's visual and proprioceptive, I feel those changes just like walking, except I react with the controls.
  18. Pick a school that you can and will attend for more than a day at a time over at least 8 month total period. The more days in a row you can show, the quicker that will go. Pick a school with the airframe you'll be most likely flying after you get your certificate. If that type is in broad use, you start your career with time in type whether you instruct next or not -I recommend instructing, you'll learn a lot if you teach and the better you teach the more you'll learn. Instructing is not for everyone. Look at the maintenance and availability where ever. It doesn't have to be a big fleet if the maintenance department is good. Look for depth in the instructors available, try to find the one that has a successful record with people like you. I wouldn't rule out brand new a CFI/I as primary with a good chief instructor and, perhaps other instructors as options. One all that is nailed down, it doesn't really matter how the school's name is spelled. The hard part comes after that last flight test ride and your certificate- getting the hours while keeping body and soul together.
  19. I've had real jobs over my 50+ working years where I didn't fly for a decade once, and then for 4 years. I had 1400 hours when I left the seat the first time, it took 20 hours or so to get back up to teaching speed again. The 4 year break came 8000 hours and an ATP later. That break only cost 5 hours ro feel good. A side note- an instructor/check airman at PHI told me that they'd fly with aviators who'd been out of the seat for 10, 15 or more years on their initial intrview/evaluations and could identify those who'd padded their logbooks or probably weren't up to the the course. Pick the best, most experiencd CFI you can find for your first hop and then pick his brain. If you get an accptable estimate from that...
  20. Y'all keep talking about tail rotors, LTE, LTA, etc.,like there is some kinda magic involved in that specific control. There's no magic or exclusive property of tail rotors, everything you do with the machine has limits, yours or the machines'. Knowledge is the key and planning is the lock that opens the door to survival when you encounter a limit. Based on my experience in having pushed full pedals in either direction on occasion and seen inadequate response to perform the maneuver anticipated, the situation is survivable- if you prepared for it by having a survivable plan. You know- or should know that fin effectiveness depends on airspeed. You should know that torque compensation is related to the fin and power demand. I'm not going to pretend to know what happened in the video or teach avoidance. I will tell you what worked for me: high steep slow and cautious, with an abort planned and executed at "X" condition. If the safest approach is downwind, establish the path and speed high enough that you can safely fly out Test your pedal and stick for limits as you fly the approach. Know and plan for the limits to change as your tailwind component increases and I abort if I think I might be approaching a limit. Power demand is also a yaw control... I do not have to follow the nose on my approach, all I have to do is be able to follow a controlled descent path onto the point of landing- this ain't an airplane. What's most difficult is maintaining vis and clearing the area from the pilot. I prefer to land with the tail away from ground access, but that doesn't mean I must do so. If I can control access path and provide adequate clearance with the tail in any other direction, might do so It is possible in some circumstances to yaw the aircraft in the 'wind shadow' on the pad when you couldn't point it where you wanted in flight. It us also possible that the entire approach turns to crap when you encounter the orographic turbulence as you try to enter the 'wind shadow'. Sometimes I could adapt and sometimes I couldn't and I diverted to another site.
  21. I tried the Vuichard at a recurrent training session a few years ago with an instructor who also did utility in the Rockies. We had, of course, done the FAA approved syllabus maneuvers... The instructor took the time to demonstrate it and allowed me to execute a few, maybe several times (it was a pretty intense training session, and I learned a lot). I am confident that we were in a developed VRS at each attempt, but as iChris points out, it's hard to repeat specific states and establish real, demonstrable advantages. For transparency, I HATE the approved recovery technique. Perhaps a carryover phobia from teaching it in TH-55s? Continuing the descent as one reduces power and noses down to fly out feels like trying to time the bullet that one accidently fired at your forehead. The Vuichard seemed a more positive, quicker recovery with less altitude loss. It didn't seem to matter which pedal and I didn't feel anything unusual in aircraft response. AWARENESS! AWARENESS! AWARENESS! A real appreciation of the potential VRS, a plan to deal with the issue and/or abort whatever operation you're attempting. The VRS situation is predictable, controllable if one doesn't get distracted. I never had a real life VRS, but I became a devout and faithful believer in S-L-O-W approaches with minimal control inputs, especially power changes until the skids are down- just as PHI taught in'83. Everything after the turn to final should be imperceptible changes.
  22. Uh, wait- they paid you? No wonder my career stalled.
  23. I'll reinforce "Nearly Retired's" enthusiasm for the Gulf O'Mexico flying- a quarter century ago. But- I spent almost all my 13, 14 years on offshore jobs and was very fortunate in being assigned a relatively 'cush' job at a little better than two years in. I was my own boss within company and contract terms. I flew Twinstars (I hated Twinstars eventually, the only reason I bid up to IFR) for a pipeline company, they worked 0700 to 1900 when the days were that long and whatever daylight available after 0700 when the days were shorter. Good accomodations, mostly good crew, only a couple psychopaths (one field boss), treated me well overall. It was only a 4 or 5 day a shift contract, so I was a pool pilot for 2 or 3 days, so I had variety in jobs and some in airframes- I've flown straight 355Fs, F1s and F2s and all the 206s but no 407 time, often going back and forth in airframes on the same day. I intensely disliked beach bases and company politics. One was at the whim of whoever was running the base that day, the lead pilot, base/area manager or whoever was on the dispatch desk. The training provided by the training department was the best I ever had- instructors were required to fly the line, and took respected line pilot input. Most of the company instructional staff went on to be management in the company and others. As to the 'critters'- I am biased, I liked Cajuns, hung out with them. I get along everywhere I go, I like beer joints, whatever is on offer, wherever I am- I just want to pass a good time, me, yeah. The crews were generally a lot more educated and entrepreneurial than obvious at a casual glance. That's 'company' crew, the contract hands were a much more diverse bunch and might well be highs school dropouts or whatever. Talk to'em and you might discover that D&C (Danos and Curole, the major labor contractor where and when) hand was educated, ambitious and working towards a Chevron, whatever job- much better money and bennies, long term security and a week, two weeks on and off. Life, the job is what you make it. You can be as miserable or as happy as you want, just be willing to do the job and/or shine it on when you get tired of it. I still hate Twinstars.
  24. I had corrective eye surgery a couple years ago, after i retired- don't wait anymore.
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