Saturday, January 23, 2010

Silverhawk Aviation Academy

Robinson R44's, originally uploaded by Monkeykun.

I went on a discovery flight with Silverhawk Aviation Academy in Caldwell, Idaho. It involved a 30 minute ground lesson and a 30 minute flight in a Robinson R22 helicopter with an instructor. It was my first time in a helicopter. After the ground lesson, preflight and startup the instructor did a hovering turn over the interstate next to the airport and put the R22 into cruise flight. I was then given instruction to use the anti-torque pedals to keep the helicopter trimmed correctly. I did pretty well, small inputs is all it took. The instructor then gave me control of the cyclic (the joy stick looking control). I did alright-- wasn't real smooth but I was tense and nervous, which didn't help much. We flew a 4-5 mile pattern from the airport and the controls were handed back to the expert. Back at the Caldwell industrial airport, Scott put the helicopter into a steady hover over the taxiway. He then gave me control of the pedals and instructed me to turn left 90 degrees. I finessed the helicopter slowly to the left using small pressure inputs and held it steady. He then had me turn right 180 degrees and I slowly walked it to the right. I was then given control of the cyclic and was told to keep a steady hover. This was the most difficult part. Our smooth steady hover turned to PIT (Pilot Induced Turbulence). The helicopter started yawing to the right so I put a small left input into the cyclic (or what I thought was small) and the heli nose tilted up and yawed to the left, so I tried to correct it with a forward right input... and process repeated itself. It felt like I was balancing the aircraft on a pole. It didn't help that I was tense and nervous and my inputs were probably more like butter churns. I tried 4 more times and our 30 minutes ran up so we headed back to the helipad.

What's next? hopefully a flying career. This is going to be a long and expensive process but I'm looking forward to the challenge. I'm ready for something new.