Flying through

Sunday, 31 October 2010

Flying with AeroGulf over Dubai in the LongRanger

Went flying with AeroGulf today in their B206 LongRanger. We took off from the airport, but in future AeroGulf is moving its sightseeing helipad to the golf course, this is because there is (and there was) a certain amount of difficulty accessing the main airport for tourists. Anyway, I got through eventually, and was able to go flying.
My pilot was Steve Johnson, a civilian trained Australian who has been flying at AeroGulf for 17 years, during which time he has seen some changes.
AeroGulf started as an oil and gas transporter, taking oil workers and others out to the rigs. They then added construction work, much of which takes place in Oman and the other Emirates, and are now building up a tourism fleet. They fly Bell 212s out to the rigs at the moment but will in the next few months bring AW139s on to the fleet for the oil and gas work, while keeping the 212s for construction and leasing them out to other companies. The tourism is done in the JetRanger and LongRanger.
For more on AeroGulf and its work see the winter 2010 issue of Helicopter Life magazine out in December 2010.

AeroGulf pilot Steve Johnson in the LongRanger

Sarah Currie and Dave Butler, Chief Pilot AeroGulf
  It was a good flight, although a little hazy. We flew over the coast, seeing some construction sites that had failed to make a success and others, like The Palm, which were very successful. The well-publized World, wherein Michael Jackson and other celebs had been going to have a retreat, did not look anything like the world of my atlas, and has not been a great success. I guess the timing was a bit off. We flew over the former camel racing course and the present horse racing course - marvellous as you would expect of anything to do with horses belonging to Maktoum. Back over the foreigner freehold area, the creek and home.

 Sarah is one of two female pilots at AeroGulf. Interestingly she says there has been no local opposition to her as a pilot and the only sexist remark she ever had was from a British oil worker. Humm, makes you proud to think these male Brits can come half way round the world and still stick to their cultural attitudes don't it!

Saturday, 30 October 2010

Come to Dubai for the Helicopter Show

Arrived in Dubai this morning - staying Al Bustan Rotana, which is near the Airport Expo where the show is being held.
Swimming, sightseeing and resting today, tomorrow I hope to go flying in the AeroGulf JetRanger over the city - should be good if the weather isn't too hazy. It was hazy when we arrived this morning but by 10 am that should have burnt off - I hope.

The show starts on Tuesday.

More to come....

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Bond seen at Battersea

Nothing scares a Yorkshireman
Sean Connery uses the rejuvenation spar at the Verta Hotel in Battersea

Monday, 18 October 2010

Why you should not answer a mobile phone in the cockpit

Last week I was flying the JetRanger with a new student. I have quite a few hours on the B206 but I still use the checklist when I start-up as I always impress upon my students the importance of doing so: that you do not miss items. I was a few lines from turbine start when the phone rang and I answered it. My mother, who suffers from dementia, had gone missing and the lodger had phoned to tell me. We reconciled the mother problem and then, apologising to the trial lesson, I returned to start up.
I pressed the start button and nothing happened. Uhh? I looked up at the circuit breakers and discovered I had not put in the start circuit breaker. I tried again. Start ok. Got up to 15%, put in the fuel, but then I could hear the fuel sloshing and no ignition.... Uhh? I kept motoring the turbine and closed the throttle. Once I reckoned the chamber was empty I looked up at the circuit breakers again - the ignition breaker was sitting out like a wagging finger - and yet I had missed it when I pushed in the start breaker. I pushed it in.
I started again and this time the turbine spooled up in the normal way. There was no damage done, apart from looking foolish in front of the Trial Lesson,  but...  well what a fool! I must have started this engine a couple of thousand times, and yet a little distraction on the phone made me miss essential items... It is something I would impress upon a student!

Thursday, 7 October 2010

EH 101 Merlin

Day three at Heli Tech Portugal. I was thrown off the Merlin by a member of the Portuguese Air Force - mind you I was sitting at the controls going vroom vroom, so you might sympathise with him!
Fully digital displays, which I was surprised about given its first flight was in 1987. When I admitted that I was a pilot, the PAF man, who was about 12 years old, said, "I believe you!" Cheeky monkey. Not many female PAF pilots, I guess.

Also, interviewed Pedro Silveira, the President of Heli Portugal, part of the recently created United Helicopter Services. UHS is a company covering a myriad of aviation services, mostly helicopter, through Europe, Middle East and Africa. Interesting interview. He gave his opinion on the difficulties and advantages  of merging several companies under one banner- read the next edition of Helicopter Life for full text.

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Heli Tech Cascais day two

Day two started with pouring rain, which has now been replaced by low cloud and mist; disappointing for all - will there be another fire fighting demonstration this afternoon?
This Kamov was tantalising us this morning by starting up and shutting down innumerable times - so far all they have done is a compressor wash.... I hope it will flying this afternoon and perhaps do some fire fighting demos.
It is quiet here, but there are some potentially interesting things - for example there is a new concept helicopter HAD + T, a three blade small turbine helicopter. If it makes a prototype or more then it will be interesting - at the moment they have the assembled parts but have not yet done ground runs, which are scheduled to happen in November.
I will write more about this in the print version of Helicopter Life out in December.

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

HeliTech Cascais, Portugal

Good day at HeliTech in Cascais, with an excellent fire fighting demonstration. Two very colourful  Squirrels helped the ground fire fighters put out the fire -  it was fun, the only drawback was that they did a very similar demo two years ago. None the less, enjoyable and good pictures.
Not enough people at the show though - at least the weather was lovely - it is worth leaving the UK and coming here for the sun alone and dinner on the beach...
Sadly, thanks to the recession there are no parties this year at HeliTech....

More tomorrow.