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Solo Maneuvers for a Private Pilot


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Hello VR,

 

I was thinking of how I could improve my Piloting when I am flying solo, as in what type of maneuvers would all of you recommend for a 55 hour Private Pilot without a CFI? Of course I am not going to go out and start doing autos by myself I just want something to challenge myself that is also safe to do without a CFI. I will be doing cross country solo flights to unfamiliar airports to build my navigational skills but would also like to improve my "Stick" ability. Would like to know what all of you think.

 

-Josh

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Quick-stops, Steep-approaches, and Air-taxi.

 

Since they're done at slower speeds, these are great for developing coordination skills involving all of the controls at once,...and they're the most fun! I used to practice them a lot during my early years as a "Private" renter. Just vary the degree of each maneuver every so often ("quickness" of quick-stop, "steepness", of steep-approach, etc.).

 

Confined-areas, and Pinnacles are great too, but my rental company doesn't allow those!

:D

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Practice your pickups, and setdowns to where you can barely tell there has been a transition. When you get really good at that, practice slopes on your dominant side, till that is smooth as silk, then your weak side. Then go back to pickups and setdowns and see if you can notice any improvement. From a 3 foot hover, practice no wind level accelerations without adding power. If you do it slowly and smoothly enough, you won't lose any altitude going below 3 feet. The faster you do it, the bigger the dip, and if done hamfistedly enough, the skids could touch during the transition.

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PTK, how about working on developing Situational Awareness, Aeronautical Decision Making, Risk Management & Single pilot Resource Management skills.

 

Work on your "head" skills and perfect your "stick" skills to Commercial PTS tolerance levels.

 

Mike

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Yeah, the fun stuff is usually prohibited by the rental agreement. I'd build my cross-country PIC time. You can also do some hovering maneuvers. Turns around the nose, turns around the tail, pirouettes. The rest of the time, work on the basics. Pick an altitude and airspeed, hold yourself to it as you make steep turns, do a series of climbs and descents and get exactly to your target altitude, then do that with climbing and descending turns. Practice making perfect controlled approaches. Just be in control of the helicopter.

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Yeah, the fun stuff is usually prohibited by the rental agreement. I'd build my cross-country PIC time. You can also do some hovering maneuvers. Turns around the nose, turns around the tail, pirouettes. The rest of the time, work on the basics. Pick an altitude and airspeed, hold yourself to it as you make steep turns, do a series of climbs and descents and get exactly to your target altitude, then do that with climbing and descending turns. Practice making perfect controlled approaches. Just be in control of the helicopter.

 

I was going to say exactly the same thing. Take a cross-country flight to an airport you haven't been to before. Try to do it without a GPS if at all possible while you're at it. Once you're there, do everything Kodoz said to do.

 

When you do your VFR cross-country flights, bring a stopwatch or something. Try to get to where you can fly the flight plan plus or minus a minute or better.

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Yep, work on flight planning planning. Figure out which landmarks work, which ones don't. Go new places, see new things. Work on perfecting your basic maneuvers. Every approach should be a challenge, "this time I'm going to get the power in a little earlier" or "I need to watch my ground track on this one."

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Pickups and setdowns are a good place to start. Also I would suggest that you practice low hover manuvering. I used to do a slow hovering taxi around a square marked out on the ground. I would slowly taxi parral to the line, make a 90 degree pedal turn and taxi down that line. Or I would make a 270 degree pedal turnin the opposite direction. When I was comfortable with that, I would then pick a heading and fly the square staying on the same heading and taxiing sideways and backwards. Watch your skid height and your speed.

 

One thing I suggest to my students is to take an old chart(s) and plan as many cross countries as you can stand. The charts don't have to be for the local area. in fact it is probably better if the were not. Get the weather for the area and plan you flight. Basically this is to practice in the process of flight planning. Until it becomes second nature. I also suggest that you practice doing W&B problems. Do all the extreme W&B problems. Like just the pilot and fuel fuel and min fuel. You and a very gravitationally challenged passenger in the rear most seat and full fuel. And so on.

 

Good luck.

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IF you can do it at night go for it... although a smart CFI (as you will become later) will do as much training at night as possible...

 

 

One thing I'd recommend is choose your route and on the chart mark some places on the chart that you can fly to.. horse track, damn, canal, charted waypoints as well... really be hard on yourself when selecting spots to find..

 

Land at as many towered airports as possible while building x.c time. This will build up your confidence too.. If you are just flying the same ole route, what's the point.

 

New airports = continued learning...

Edited by Helidad
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PTK !

 

Congrats on your private pilot ticket.. you now have a license to learn! :-)

 

There are some great comments above that i totally agree with, but this topic has made me kinda nervous...

 

I think Chris and Butters both made mention about the rental agreements of the aircraft you might be flying.. they have limits written into them for reasons. When i first signed up to train i was sooo disappointed when i read and signed the rental agreement of the school, i had to agree to NOT do all the things that i always wanted to do in a helicopter.. :-) then i read the book "Fatal Traps" and realized why a 50 hour pilot shouldn't be doing the things that killed a 10K hour pilot (and i knew and flew with one of them in the book personally!).

 

The person you should be asking this question to is YOUR CFII. The one that signed you off, the one that knows your strengths and weaknesses.. and the one that knows which maneuvers are allowed in the helicopter you are flying/renting. If you have never done pirouettes then why NOT have an instructor on board when you do them (not saying you haven't, just an example)?? I'm not saying this is the law, just that it might be a better way. Go on to your commercial or instrument ticket, keep flying and keep safe.. (i know CFIs that have lost the helicopter in a quick stop and almost destroyed it, indeed did $4K worth of damage in just a few seconds). Make sure you are doing what's best for you at your level and proficiency.. and the best person to judge that at this point is probably your CFI!

 

jmho,

 

Have fun out there, sincerely,

 

dp

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dp,

 

I greatly appreciate your advice and concern. I will definitely talk with my CFI like you mentioned about the types of things I should work on while I am soloing and the things he feels that I should only work on with him. I make sure I keep myself humble and will never "showoff" to friends or family just to give them a thrill. I try to keep the attitude that anything that can happen will happen. I have actually only rented the helicopter one time (a month after my checkride) and that was just a cross country trip to a unfamiliar airport. I will thoroughly go over the rental agreement with my CFI before my next flight. Also I have just purchased a GoPro Hero 2 video camera which I will use to record all of my flight time from now on. This will not only let me do the obvious of showing my friends and family what flying is like but it was also my intention to use the video for safety. By going over the videos and reviewing my communication with ATC and CTAF at untoward airports also critiquing my performance and seeing where I could of performed something in a safer manner.

 

I have read "Fatal traps for helicopter pilots" and learned alot! I plan on re-reading it and refreshing myself on it every so often to keep myself as safe as possible. I am eager to move forward to commercial and instruments certifications but do not have the funds available at this current time to do so. The main reason I started this post was because I will only be able to fly once a month if I am lucky. I wanted some safe maneuvers to perform to build my skills and ADM while also building up my solo hours. I will go up with a CFI every so often to make sure I don't develop any bad habits, I just don't want to have to take a CFI up with me every time I fly. I 100% agree with your post and thank you for your input and concern.

 

-Josh

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PTK !

 

.. you now have a license to learn! :-)

 

Now wait a minute,...I thought the CFI was the "license to learn"? :blink: :o :D

 

PTK,

 

Be careful with that camera. You wouldn't want to inadvertently record (and post) yourself doing something that's a "no-no" according to the rental/solo agreement!

:ph34r: :)

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In my opinion, do all of the same things you’ve been doing before, but do them more precisely. Again, in my opinion, practice makes perfect and this goes for all of the maneuvers in the book……

Not to sound too disagreeable, but Practice does NOT make perfect. Practice makes permanent, or at least to the extent our perishable skills are, habitual. What does make perfect, is, perfect practice.

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A word of caution on those solo XC trips in the 22. Treat EVERYTHING in the cockpit like a hazardous weapon, especially those ziplock bags of cookies and snacks. Fortunately I ended up rolling what seemed like 90 degrees opening the bag. Scared to think what could have happened if I'd opened the bag in the forward direction! Took 2 days to get all the cookie crumbs cleaned up.

 

So include in your solo XC planning how you're going to operate ALL the goodies you take with you.

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