Flying the Rotorway gives one constant insight into flying on the edge. I was doing another test a few weeks later on a very hot day in July. The temperature at the farm was 30 degrees centigrade and the E162F was a slightly less powerful one, with a novice owner of some size. We had a very tight take-off, in a direction that was not into wind, but crosswind. We could not take off into wind because another Rotorway owner had parked his helicopter there making it risky for us.
The novice owner tried to get far enough back in the field, but was hampered by a tree. He decided to go for a gap in the hedge. Unfortunately, before he started he ommitted to get his rpm up to the top of the green. We started our departure run, the rpm dropped further and it was quickly clear we were not getting much lift. As the rpm descend further, our only option was to keep the nose forward and fly the helicopter out using relative airflow to edge up our climb inch by inch. We got out ot the field, swooping past an orange coloured emergency life-raft which now features in my dreams. And, finally, we were free of the ground and able to lower the collective and bring the rpm back from the lowest position I have ever seen it. My little heart was racing!
As with every Rotorway flight I learnt something new! That is, that as an examiner, you have to be far more ‘anticipatory’ than you do as a pilot. Looking at our departure from the farm you can saw that we were hampered by the temperature, the weight of the pilot and passenger and the lack of wind. However, that is not the whole story. The truth is that the rpm was too low before take-off and that was the reason that we nearly did not make it over the hedge. So, the question is: as an examiner do you say to the student:
“Get your rpm up, or we are going to hit the hedge?” which is then interference in his flying skills, or do we let him make the mistake and nearly kill you?
While academically this may be a dilemma, practically I feel everyone would give the same answer, assuming they did not have a death wish!