Flying through

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Instructor renewal

Yesterday I did my helicopter instructor renewal. This has to be done every three years, to keep the rating current and while I don't like tests any more than anyone else, I do find I always learn a lot. Yesterday, in spite of the 30 knot winds, I learnt a couple of very interesting things. One was how really difficult wires can be to see.
We were doing confined areas, the subject of my main brief, and the examiner was sitting in the student's seat allowing me to patter him through Exercise 26. As we recced the area we noticed wires to the side of the  landing area, but nothing appeared to go across the actual area. The sun was positioned so the field was slightly in the shadow, and we made a note of the possibility of wires and the position of the nearest pole (in the trees abutting on the area). However, even on the lower recce the area looked clear of wires. Then we made our approach, there, suddenly, about 40 or so feet above the wires it was possible to see them, and they went right across the descent path (luckily we had remained high because of the possibility).
This was made particularly poignant for me as I had just put an accident report in Helicopter Life magazine in which the highly experienced pilot hit wires because they were hidden in trees. He was not hurt, but the machine (a Hughes 500) was written off. At this time of year, with leafy trees and shadows, wires are really, really difficult to see. Take care.

The other interesting point we discussed and practiced was power settings on coming out of confined areas.
I tend to teach using full-power leaving a confined area, this is per the CAA standard. However, the examiner said; WHY? You have done a power check, you know how much power you have in hand. Why not take note of those margins and use the power you need, instead of getting the student to use everything, when he may over-torque and certainly will have his head in the cockpit worrying about RPM rather than outside - which is where the trees are going to hit you. It was a good point, and we flew it gently right along the trees - no hassle.
So, sometimes I ask myself - why do we worry about tests, they are good learning experiences. Thanks.

Friday, 20 August 2010

Ozzie sniffs at the chance of learning to fly

Although Ozzie thought flying was well lekker she opted for map reading as the easier option

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Helicopter Life Autumn 2010

This is a sneak preview of the next magazine, out in September.
Articles include: Helicopters in Haiti - how a German team of helicopters went out to Haiti after the earthquake to help the survivors by Rainer Herzberg.
Fire-fighting training in the Kamov Ka-32.
Matt Conder writing about the helicopter pilots work on the power lines.
Alan Norris on the SAR competition in Kiel-Holtenau.
Arjan Dijksterhuis on the last competition in Kiel-Holtenau.
Ralph Arnesen on his time as a military pilot in Vietnam.
Dino Marcellino on SAR training in Ireland on the AW139.
The highlights and spills of Farnborough.
My test flight of the Bell 429 - great little machine with bags of power, especially for someone used to the Bell 206.
Answering a question from Henny Fagg, Do I need to get an Instrument Rating to work in the helicopter industry.
And all the regulars such as House and Helicopter - the new hotel at Battersea Heliport- book reviews, helicopter shows past and future etc

History of Helicopter Life

Helicopter Life was started in 2004 by my husband, a graphic designer and author, and me, an instructor pilot and a part-time writer. Our aim was to get people who had never even thought about helicopters interested in the subject, and perhaps even encourage them to learn to fly. I had been flying since I was 20 years old, and I loved it. I taught my husband to fly, although he never got a licence, and he realised how much more there is to flying than just going from A- B in more style than the train - he never learnt to drive either!

As the magazine grew we found more and more interesting subjects to write about, all involving helicopters. There were the US helicopter teams out in Laos who were searching for any remains of Americans who had fought in the Vietnam War. This was following a promise made by the US government to the war widows that Americans who fought for their country would always be returned to US soil: alive or dead. There were fire-fighters, all of whom were so modest - we only support the real ground fire-fighters, they insisted: and yet helicopters do make a great deal of difference. There were the medical pilots, flying the EMS machines, sometimes in the deadliest of weathers, many of whom lost their lives determined to save others. Coastguard, Search and Rescue, Mountain Rescue, Military pilots on both war and peacetime missions, police pilots, corporate pilots, film pilots - the list is endless.
We also discovered people who just enjoyed playing with helicopters: 'gamers' taking part in Helicopter Championships, just like tennis! People who flew back and forth from their work. Schools, trainers of all types and levels. Different attitudes to flying in different countries, different regulations, different politics.
There is so much more to helicopter flying and the uses of helicopters than most people realise.

Then, in the summer of 2006, my husband suddenly began to get tired. At first he thought he was just ageing - a little earlier than most people. He began to have difficulty walking, breathing and even eating. He went to the doctor, and they sent him for various tests. No one told him what it might be. Eventually, he went to an acupuncturist and she said he had Raynaud's disease, associated with something else - as we were in Japan at the time she wasn't able to tell us the English name. I looked it up on the internet. Raynaud's disease is often associated with Motor Neurone Disease, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease or Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis. He died a month later, in October. Before he died we decided I would continue the magazine in his memory.

Since winter 2006 I have brought out the magazine myself, with the help of some excellent people including Dave Smith, a pilot on the oil rigs, Malvina Nicca, a jet jockey, Robert Edmonds, an airline pilot and many freelance writers and photographers, and many supporters and friends. No one works full time on the magazine, but we all love aviation and want to infect as many others as we can with the delight of flying. This is the reason for bringing out the magazine. I hope you enjoy it.