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Landing Technique?


thrilsekr
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So? What do you think? Was this necessary? Is it proper? Is it safe?

 

I can hear all the arguments already. Any landing is a good landing. Whatever.

 

What I want to know is... Is this type of landing a good idea? Or is it to give the passengers a good time?

 

I do not think it is something your CFI would teach.

It does look like fun, however. A little dirty at spots, but fun.

 

Merely looking for education. What type of situation would you be expect to see this type of landing?

 

Thanks

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Uhh, I dont comment on those that fly bigger ships than I do, those that have say.,.....20,000 hours more than I do.

 

However I would have flown the downwind approach a bit different, and landed a further distance from the passengers...thats what I would have done.

 

Goldy

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I know. Seemed a bit close, right?

 

Think you for mentioning the downwind approach.

What am I missing? How can you call the downwind approach from this video? Or are you just assuming?

 

Well, you usually land into the wind...he turns to land on very very short final and sets it down....I assume at that point he is heading into the wind...which means his approach to the landing area was his downwind. Most would approach likes its a big box. So a turn further out, with a longer easy descent to the pad into the wind is more "normal". Personally I would never set down with people or animals that close to my LZ..land first, then have them approach you when you're ready.

 

But who knows, these may be trained individuals at the LZ, like I said, I won't second guess the conditions or reasons why the approach was done in that manner.....just not the way I would do it. I love it when that blast hits the cameraman...I've been 10 feet under a 412, (similar sized ship)it can definitely part your hair.

 

Goldy

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no problem... they have trained guides instructing all passengers how to behave around the helicopter... besides, it's the only spot for him to land. That having been said.... maybe that is the problem with cfi's out there... they don't give you any "real world" training.

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i've seen a few people land directly next to passengers.... reason i've heard, which may be wrong, is because the pilot would rather set next to the pax than have the passenger tromping through the snow/terrain towards the helicopter. if you can keep them in one spot, set down next to them, then you dont have to worry about them wandering into the T/R or something. plus it makes for a quick turn-around if you are doing a lot of shuttling of ppl.

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On big ships, the best place to be is directly underneath because the fuselage prevents you from being hit by the downwash. Thats impractical when picking up pax so next best is to land right next to them, literally 3 feet away as the downwash is much less than it would be about 10 to 15 feet away. The important thing is to brief them beforehand so that they dont get alarmed when you are virtually on top of them. If there is the luxury of a large place to land and easy terrain to walk on, then land farther away.

 

I would also assume the pilot in the clip turned into wind but since I was not there and do not know the terrain or obstacles I will not comment.

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Can't see a whole lot in that, but some thoughts:

I'm not crazy about holding a hover while passengers board. It can be done, but a risk assessment is in order. If it's a life or death situation, and that's the only way... The pax in the video are done for if there's a control or power issue;

Pax should also be inside and secure before the aircraft moves;

Didn't see any floats or vests;

Downwind? How can you tell?

 

Priorities on approach-

1. Survivable forced landing

2. Minimize hazard, nuisance to others

3. within pilot skill and experience

4. within aircraft capabilities

5. Safe abort plan

6. Into the wind

 

A beautiful auto into the wind and nonsurvivable terrain at landing is a wasted effort. Into the wind resulting in a roll down the mountain, falling through the trees, etc., are all gambles I won't take against a downwind approach over better terrain. No, I don't fly the two approaches the same, and I'll fly whatever path I need to make sure I go home at the end of the shift.

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A beautiful auto into the wind and nonsurvivable terrain at landing is a wasted effort. Into the wind resulting in a roll down the mountain, falling through the trees, etc., are all gambles I won't take against a downwind approach over better terrain. No, I don't fly the two approaches the same, and I'll fly whatever path I need to make sure I go home at the end of the shift.

 

Well put. A wise instructor once told me that "a bad auto to a good spot, is better than a good auto to a bad spot". In other words it's better to spread the skids in a field, than do a perfect flare at tree-top level and fall 100 feet through trees, or sink in a lake, or....

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I could do that...in another 5 million hours.

 

As for CFI's not training for the "real world", that might be a truth, but their job is to teach the fundamentals of flying and to fly in a safe manner. It's when one gets employed to fly certain types of missions does one learn the "extreme" flying to get the job done in a safe and efficient manner. Some will say it's unsafe, others will say it's no big deal. Fact is, every pilot has different skills for the job they do. You might not want to hire me to fly pinnacles if I've only done it a dozen times in a Robbie. Or you can train me. After a while one gets comfortable and can fly like in their sleep.

 

If you think that's unsafe, ok. I had to back up once because there was a hangar in front of me. I'm not too comfortable going backwards because there aren't any rear-view mirrors. I did it and turned to the ramp and was outta there.

 

I thought that was unsafe. I guess it wasn't.

 

Later

 

Oh, you ought to see the factory pilots at Robinson. I'm not too sure about those guys. The ship I was in went past Vne, 107kts. I told Ken that I thought we were going a little fast. He said he likes fast.

Edited by Witch
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Oh, you ought to see the factory pilots at Robinson. I'm not too sure about those guys. The ship I was in went past Vne, 107kts. I told Ken that I thought we were going a little fast. He said he likes fast.

 

Who doesn't like fast? It's retreating blade stall that I don't like!

 

The Robinson factory pilot I flew with was exceptional - very professional, and very informative.

 

The problem with CFI's giving "real world" teaching is that the majority of them have relatively few hours themselves (mostly less than 1000) and really don't have the "real world" experience required to effectively offer "real world" training.

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If you watch the clouds they aren't moving, the snow blowing is from the downwash only moving in several directions. It probably was still air or very light winds (less than 5 kts) and he was down to hover taxi speed when he turned around and backed in.

The pax looked very controlled by ground crew, looked like a practiced quick turn to me.

 

Jerry

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Not to defend or approve of this guys flying but did anyone else notice the other helicopter sitting on the ground with blades turning "behind" the landed helicopter?

 

Its hard to get accurate depth perception to tell how far away the other A/C was but maybe that was his way of not flying over the idling helicopter.

 

Just after the main heli touches down you can also hear what sounds like a turbine engine winding up.

 

any thoughts?

BW

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This is a heliskiing pick up from the valley bottom, likely a lodge or prepared fuel staging area. I have worked for the last 10 years as a heliski guide, and now am a CHPL so I can offer my view of what is going on.

 

1) This will be one of the easiest of the likely more than 80 landings for the day. The rest will be in blowing snow (near white out) and often very flat light. The machine will be near gross weight. The HOGE chart will be used for the temp and altitude of the day to figure out exactly the maximum fuel that can carried with the group weight. The machine will refuel several times so the benefit of getting light is short lived, though the guide pilot team will discuss this to get to certain harder landings.

 

2) The guide has very close control of the group and they have had an extensive safety briefing on what to do and not do around the helicopter. The pilot uses the guide and pile of skiis as his landing reference. It is safest to be under the rotor disk within arms length of the machine. On some landings the pilot will have to hold power but will always have skid to snow contact unless it is an emergency hover/entry.

 

3) The machine is coming in light at low (relative to drop off) altitude and will have lots of available power for this manouver. It appears the winds are light, but in any case he gets to a slow speed and high hover height before the 180 descending turn and starts off to the side of the group before committing to the landing. If there was an engine failure at any point the pilot could deal with it safely.

 

4) He is now set up to depart into wind in the direction he needs to go with the now heavy machine. This is absolutely crucial. A machine crashed in the mountain where I live heliskiing a few winters ago because he had to turn downwind (took off into wind flying uphill, but rising ground forced the turn downwind) with a full load after a pick up and settled very hard onto the glacier. No one was hurt but the 212 was wrecked.

 

5) This is production flying. A wider pattern as taught at the airport would blow the efficiency of the day and cost to much money over the accumulated course of the 80 (or more) landings. Pilot would get spoken to, or let go if he/she can't get the program as fast as is safely possible. The pilot ALWAYS has the final say on what is safe and is ultimately responsible. However if a pilot is inefficient (flys a standard pattern) another pilot will be found who has the experience to do the job.

 

6) Usually there are multiple groups (3 or 4) per machine. The pilot will often fly a larger pattern on the first landing with the lead group to gather info he/she needs. The subsequent landings are straight to the spot as efficiently as possible once he/she knows the best way in as dictated by winds and terrain constraints.

 

7) Fuel is often the biggest concern. When the machine is heavy it demands different techniques, but as it burns fuel there is a bigger power reserve.

 

8) Many landings the terrain doesn't allow a direct in/out wind approach/departure calling for creative sideways flying and other interesting techniques to deal with the wind backlash and demarcation lines. First rule is don't commit until you have it figured out. Always have a back door open. The production pressure of heliskiing is not always fun. Many very experienced pilots hate it, but some thrive on the constant challenge. It is always demanding and the consequences for mistakes are huge.

 

9) Most landings are no hover spot landings at a pre placed stake with flag (for visual reference). This minimizes downwash and the snowball effect and is the fastest. Power is ALWAYS applied much earlier than standard approach, and chug it in at high torque. If you do it right you actually reduce power as you land unless it is a tiny peak with no ground effect at all. If you come in with less than 60% torque you are almost for sure downwind and will have to abort and come around the other way. On the first landing for a new place the pilot may do an approach from both directions to figure this out, then commit. With this knowledge the next groups landings are usually straight to the spot.

 

10) One more trick is to chug in just slightly ahead of ETL (there may be very slow ground speed if in a good wind) with a high power setting as mentioned. The pilot can use the cyclic to change attitude to just lose ETL or just gain ETL to vary the glide slope to the landing. This keeps a constant power setting so you don't use it all up on the approach. If you are near max torque on approach better abort because you always need a bit of reserve for a sudden loss of wind or downdraft at the last 10 seconds. This is when you might be committed with no back door open any more.

 

It's been a bit of a ramble, but this is a subject I love. Have been known to go on about flying to non pilot friends who yawn... At least here some one will disagree with something I've said. I'm still a low timer so perhaps a higher time pilot will have more to say.

 

My last comment is that CFI's should teach many different techniques as a challenge to skills. Backwards take-offs, and backwards rejected departures right to the same spot are important skills. A downwind air taxi with quick turn into wind to no hover landing might be an essential skill one day when something goes wrong.

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One last important point. The pilot in the video probably did approach with light downwind but did a power pedal turn into wind to land. He definitely had power set early. I think what he did was safe and well executed.

 

The reason we avoid landing downwind is so the wind doesn't blow our downwash back into our flight path just as we are losing ETL. This will cause a sudden high power demand to avoid sinking and we may hit ground if there isn't any power left, and/or possibility of true vortex ring state. If you land downwind but eliminate at least one of the three conditions for vortex ring then you just have the first problem to deal with which is more a power (glide slope) and ground speed issue.

 

I believe all pilots should be taught (in a safe and controlled manner) how to land downwind as an essential (though avoided) pilot skill.

 

Get high power in early, shallow slow approach and chug it in at less than ETL for short final (not flat or you may tail strike to stop/slow the last bit) and give yourself lots of room at first. Now you are set up to learn the downwind take off and see how much more room you need before passing ETL.

 

After doing a few of these in a controlled situation with steady 5 kt winds you will fully understand and appreciate why wind is so important. Wind is your friend or enemy, but best to know your enemy so you can befriend it. Sorry so cheesy had to say it.

 

I know some may disagree, but I feel this kind of training is as essential as auto's. You are more likely to be forced to land downwind sometime than ever have an engine failure.

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Check out this heliski approach, it looks like he's flying backwards but watch closely and you see the machine is actually orbiting and flying sideways to stay into wind for short final.

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One more heliski video. This is what many pick ups are like. Better have a good final approach to a spot landing because once you're in the snowball it's easy to lose all reference. At least he has the guide and skiis to look at on his side or else it's a total whiteout.

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I can understand that these pilots have far more knowledge about these kinds of operation than I will probably ever have, and I also understand that maneuvers like this can be preformed safely by a skilled pilot who understands the limitations of their ACFT.

 

This is where I differ... Before I got into aviation, I had a lot of experience operating out of the CH-47 in high density altitude coming into LZs that would make most experienced aviators (let alone us dumb grunts jumping out of them) have a need for a fresh set of boxers. The pilots and crewchiefs we had were nothing short of amazing. That being said, even in very tense situations where we needed to get out of dodge asap, we always set up in pz posture a safe distance from the pz. In a non-combat situation, is it really necessary to put the pax there? There are other methods of visual signaling you can use without putting a group of customers at risk.

 

I'm obviously speaking as somewhat of an outsider on these operations, but it just seems wrong to me. Then again, if the people are willing to take the risk... I guess it adds to the thrill. I guess my main question is if there is something I'm not getting here? Isn't the decending helicopter far more of a risk than rotor wash?

 

J-

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Don't know how I saw a different video earlier (helicopter logging good pilot), but I did. Not sure how a 212 performs OEI in those conditions (I'm a flat-lander) but I've flown similar landings, probably not as pretty. Be conservative and have a way out when your expedited pattern is misjudged, don't continue a bad approach.

 

Witch- Because you, or anybody else survived without harm doesn't make it safe. A lot of dead pilots did the same stupid thing lots of times (or once, sometimes) before it went bad and killed them. Knowing how to do something and minimize risk to an acceptable level, and when, why you wouldn't do it are the first steps to making it so- then you practice.

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... At least here some one will disagree with something I've said.

 

 

Nah- not really !

 

 

 

You owe me a beer !

 

Hows the snow up there ??

 

Fly safe, Goldy

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Like HELI.PILOT and some others said earlier, it is difficult for CFI's to give "real world" training when they don't have much "real world" experience themselves. I have included a link below to a good thread that was running on this topic not long ago where some of us were BSing on how the training industry could improve.

 

So how would you fix it?, training

 

Whistler,

Thanks for going so in-depth. It's good to hear opinions from people who are involved in these kind of operations. You have given a great insight into this kind of work. And, even though you are still a low time pilot, I'm sure your experience in and around these operations will give you a great advantage in certain areas when you start flying them. I have a few questions on some of your points though.

 

If you come in with less than 60% torque you are almost for sure downwind and will have to abort and come around the other way.

 

Can you elaborate a little further on this one. I'd imagine you would be pulling more power if making an approach with a tailwind.

 

10) One more trick is to chug in just slightly ahead of ETL (there may be very slow ground speed if in a good wind) with a high power setting as mentioned. The pilot can use the cyclic to change attitude to just lose ETL or just gain ETL to vary the glide slope to the landing. This keeps a constant power setting so you don't use it all up on the approach. If you are near max torque on approach better abort because you always need a bit of reserve for a sudden loss of wind or downdraft at the last 10 seconds. This is when you might be committed with no back door open any more.

 

What you're saying here is that you are constantly coming in and out of ETL in order to maintain your angle of decent. It seems like this method would be the sensible one if you are heavy and pulling near max allowable power. But, I think it may be very difficult to use this method in gusty conditions, where you would have to make major corrections to maintain ETL, thus making for quite a "messy" approach, for want of a better word.

 

As an instructor teaching pinnacle and confined area landings, I explain to my students; When we are coming down to our spot heading into the wind, we maintain our ground speed, which should look like a brisk walking pace, using forward or aft cyclic. We maintain our angle of decent, or glide slope using our collective, raising some if our "site picture" starts to become too high in relation to our reference point in the helicopter, and vice verse. There are a few more points to it, such as keeping an eye on the ASI and manifold pressure to make sure the wind hasn't shifted to become a tailwind, and so on.

 

What I'm saying here is; If someone is dropping in and out of ETL, especially a student, it's going to make it difficult for them to keep their decent slow and controlled. But, I guess we are talking about really experienced pilots here who can make very subtle changes in comparison to a student, or indeed the average CFI.

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its all about time and money..... get in quick, get the pax, get out. its that simple. there is no other reason for this kind of flying. no explanations, no reasoning, no blah.... just quick turnarounds. think about this, if you were the operator and your pilot was landing 100 yards away then passengers have to tromp through deep snow with ski/snowboards, load them, then get in, get situated, get buckled, now we pull pitch. ORRRRR you have a pilot who is making a direct approach to the point, loading skis, get in, buckle up, pull pitch.. what would you prefer.

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I'd imagine you would be pulling more power if making an approach with a tailwind.

I was thinking the same thing...

 

When we are coming down to our spot heading into the wind, we maintain our ground speed, which should look like a brisk walking pace, using forward or aft cyclic. We maintain our angle of decent, or glide slope using our collective, raising some if our "site picture" starts to become too high in relation to our reference point in the helicopter, and vice verse.

 

I agree. I was taught to "use the cyclic to control your rate of closure, and the collective to control your rate of decent" - I think this helps to achieve coordinated flight. Yes we can do cyclic climbs and descents, but we increase or decrease our airspeed at the same time - try that on an ILS and see how it works for ya! Using the cyclic to vary your airspeed is fine, but I would always use the collective to vary the glide slope, not the cyclic.

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Hey Goldy, when are you gonna come up to Whistler so I can buy you a beer?

 

Finally we are getting lots of snow but the avalanche hazard is higher than anyone can remember since 1979. The stormy weather means we aren't getting out as much as usual heliskiing.

 

Clay is right the logistics and economics of heliskiing dictate landing beside the clients. Of course it would be safer to land away shut down the helicopter and have the group walk to a machine with out the rotors turning. Perhaps a few out of the 50 to 100 landings per day might happen like this. It is much more dangerous for the group to approach a running machine, than to have it land beside them though. We avoid approaching the machine while it's turning, and will have the helicopter land a little away if the group isn't ready and then fly to us once the group is in position.

 

To my knowledge there has never been a heliski accident with a machine landing right at a group, but there have been quite a few incidents and several deaths with people approaching running helicopters. I have been working in this industry for a decade. I can see how it may look high risk to someone who hasn't done this work, but in my opinion it is not an inherently unsafe practice. It does take a very highly skilled and trained pilot in this specialty flying though. I have seen many very very good pilots who haven't made good heliski pilots because it requires such specialized skills and experience. The concentration required to fly constantly all day with so many difficult mountain landings is enormous. The guys who are really good at it love it though.

 

The entire heliski business is about risk managment. It has risks for sure, and it would be safer to stay at home and not go into this mountain environment. Despite what some may perceive it is not driven by reckless risk takers. Many of the ski videos give this perception, but that is hype generated by the "ski porn" industry. Heliskiing has evolved and learned from over 40 years of professional growth. There is a tremendous amount of experience, and I feel very lucky to work with the caliber of pilots who safely do this year after year for a career.

 

An interesting question raised by thrillsekrs video was "is this a safe landing or is he just showboating".

 

I have seen pilots (because they are so skilled) start to show off and "showboat" while heliskiing taking uneccessary risks. They get fired. This business does not tolerate "cowboys" and all good pilots are extremely cautious. Finding the right balance between skill, experience, and caution requires developed judgment.

 

 

QUOTE (Whistlerpilot @ Jan 9 2009, 19:23 ) *

If you come in with less than 60% torque you are almost for sure downwind and will have to abort and come around the other way.

 

QUESTION

Can you elaborate a little further on this one. I'd imagine you would be pulling more power if making an approach with a tailwind.

 

REPLY

On short final you would be pulling more power downwind and if you messed up and continued a downwind approach to the point of commitment to landing you may have to over torque to save a crash. But in the earlier phase of the approach you will be flying at 50 to 60 kts as you set up in the intended direction. To start to slow down you usually pull aft cyclic and reduce collective to not climb. The goal is to slow down not to early (will add to much flying time over the course of all those 50 to 100 approaches) and it's unsafe to fly around the mountains at less than 50 to 60 kts. In the transition phase while slowing down you have low power. If you are downwind the wind pushing you from behind requires extended low power until slowed to the speed to start the final approach. This would mean a huge power grab at the last minute to recover.

 

So one of the first indications you are approaching downwind is a low power setting on the first phase of the mountain approach. If you get slowed early enough and get high power set but are still downwind as the helicopter slows you will feel the tail twitch or wag back and forth as the airspeed reduces to the tailwind speed. This means abort the approach and investigate another direction. Often the first landing at a new (for that day) spot requires a few practice approaches to get it all figured out. There may be up to 4 different approaches to the same landing, or the shape of the terrain may only allow one way in. The pilot uses judgement to not bother even trying some approaches because they will be to difficult with that particular day's conditions.

 

There is a lot of communication between the guide and pilot because the skiing and flying considerations need to be harmonized. I have been dropped at the top of a mountain because it was the only place a pilot could get in, but had to pick up high because the run is to risky to ski. A guides nightmare is to ski the group somewhere where the pilot can't pick up and have to spend the night out. The pilots nightmare is to get caught inadvertent IMC and fly into terrain. This is really the risk of heliskiing which must be completely avoided. Getting trapped between layers of cloud must not happen. I've been stuck flying tree top to tree top before, and either the guide or pilot will veto the day and come home if the weather is deteriorating badly. It may take an hour to get all the groups out of the mountains so a lot of weather prognosticating happens. I spend hours a day sometimes studying weather forecasts. This season we just haven't flown much because of the weather.

 

One of my favourite approaches is the contour crawl on the windward side of the mountain. You climb very close to the terrain (good out away towards the valley) using the up flowing wind. This is usually at 60 kts airspeed. As you near the ridge top you slow and turn 90 degrees directly into wind and land on the usually tiny spot staying back from the demarcation line. In a good wind the machine can land with low power this way, and I have seen many landings which never lost ETL. The danger is losing ETL just at landing and grabbing power (over torque) to avoid a hard landing. GET HIGH POWER SET EARLY. This is often called a "power check". After unloading the skiiers the pilot can dive back down valley into wind to pick up the next group. Every landing is unique and requires a lot of creative flying.

 

The company I work for uses the A-Star B-2 which is an excellent mountain flying helicopter because it still has lots of power even hot and high.

 

 

QUOTE

10) One more trick is to chug in just slightly ahead of ETL (there may be very slow ground speed if in a good wind) with a high power setting as mentioned. The pilot can use the cyclic to change attitude to just lose ETL or just gain ETL to vary the glide slope to the landing. This keeps a constant power setting so you don't use it all up on the approach. If you are near max torque on approach better abort because you always need a bit of reserve for a sudden loss of wind or downdraft at the last 10 seconds. This is when you might be committed with no back door open any more.

 

QUESTION

What you're saying here is that you are constantly coming in and out of ETL in order to maintain your angle of decent. It seems like this method would be the sensible one if you are heavy and pulling near max allowable power. But, I think it may be very difficult to use this method in gusty conditions, where you would have to make major corrections to maintain ETL, thus making for quite a "messy" approach, for want of a better word.

 

REPLY

The goal here is to stay just slightly ahead of ETL, but close enough that slowing ever so slightly reduces lift. You don't really drop in and out of ETL. As you said this would be messy. You let the machine start to just get the vibration of ETL and you can maintain that sweet spot. A little forward cyclic and apply a bit of collective and you fly away safely if you have to abort. Subtle aft cyclic and the vibration increases and lift decreases a bit without all the up down collective to maintain glide slope. You are right if it is really gusty this technique would be a bad idea, but so would lots of collective movement so the approach will probably be aborted. Gusty winds will shut down heliskiing more than strong winds.

 

The whole goal here is to get landing power set early so there is no power grab in the last 5 to 10 seconds when you may be committed to land with no room to abort.

 

In Canada commercial training distinguishes between vortex ring state and settling with power. Aerodynamically they are different. This is a subtle but crucial distinction for these high power slow rate of closure approaches. Don't want either surprise close to the ground!

 

Well you can tell by my long rambles that it's snowing hard and we aren't flying today. I'd better go x-country skiing to get some exercise.

 

Happy flying to those in warmer climes!

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