With the weather closing in for the weekend, and two of the area DPE’s going out of town, it was up to me to get 2 people in for their checkrides before Sunday. This was on Wednesday. The weather was closing in for the weekend, the progs were showing ceilings less than 1000 starting Thursday and ending for a bit on Saturday, but generally a lousy weekend. The examiner would be at PSM on Saturday for a safety seminar, and he agreed he could do the checkrides on that day before/after the seminar. This called for some careful planning. With weather not looking good for the weekend, we needed to quickly get the helicopter up to PSM, and leave it there until Saturday. This was on Thursday. The TAF was calling for low ceilings the entire weekend, and it was looking to be true. So up to PSM we went. Johnny and Lorri were to bring the helicopter up and do a lesson on the way. I drove to meet them, and left the helicopter there to be reunited on Saturday morning. I checked with Mike (commercial candidate) and this looked like the way to do this and get everyone’s checkride in on Sat. Friday’s weather was as planned – low ceilings…but wait…it was starting to clear, and Friday night it was clear. New England weather. The TAFs were now totally wrong. Saturday morning came and blue skies! We all piled into my old Mercedes to head to PSM, Mike met with the examiner and aced his commercial checkride! Nice job Mike. A thorough checkride and you aced it! Lorri decided not to be rushed, and will do the checkride in the next few weeks. We all had lunch, attended the Fly-In and safety seminar, listened to excellent lectures, then headed for home. Johnny and Lorri flew home and made it into a good lesson, Mike and I took the old Benz. Another nice day at North Andover Flight Academy. So much for the TAF, but it worked out well for everyone involved.
It was just another day at the North Andover Flight Academy. My client arrived from upstate New York with the intention of getting his endorsement for the R-44. Rather than spend 5 hours in the pattern, I decided to do something that would benefit him and give some exposure to what the R-44 could do. I would have liked to bring him through the Class B, but we most likely wouldnt have time with what I had planned today. The weather started like many New England and Boston mornings do…foggy. After my first flight of the day with a commercial student, the weather quickly lifted to 2000 broken, so we put my plan into action.
First – we sat down and went through the POH with all the nuances of the R-44 – from an R-22 pilot point of view. Next came the written quizzes – a technical quiz, an SFAR quiz, and a regulations quiz. Next we went through the preflight inspection and how this is accomplished – again utilizing the knowledge of the R-22. After this introduction and familiarization with the 44, it was time to go flying. We were hoping to get in the full 5 hours so he could return home in the morning.
Our first stop was Fitchburg. This is a nice place to introduce the “patterns” to the new 44 pilot. It isnt busy during the day, and once they get the patterns down and comfortable with the helicopter, I could throw in some quick deviations and patterns to the helicopter circles that are wedged between rows of airplanes, the ASOS equipment, and other hazards to helicopter pilots. This is a nice diversion from the old “pattern” exercises and throws in some good decision making with regards to winds and airport operations.
Next, we headed out to Nashua, with a little lesson on how to use the charts to circumnavigate Pepperell – watch out for the skydivers – be sure to radio as you pass to the North. We went to altitude to practice the autorotation entries – and do some 360 degree autorotations. This is a nice way to introduce transition pilots to the characteristics of the 44 rotor system under turning conditions – without the distraction of the ground rushing up to meet us.
We stopped at Nashua to run into the pilot shop for a GATS jar for the 44. One of the other instructors (Chris) stole my GATS jar from the 44, for his cross country trip in one of our flight schools R-22’s. I will deal with him later. Thank you to the guys at GFW for the free Pepsi. It’s the little things on days like these.
Next, we were on to Concord. I showed my client how to get a transponder code on the ground and a frequency through the Class C – allowing for a quick transition out of Nashua’s Delta without any hiccups – PPPPPPP (proper prior planning prevents piss poor performance). We departed Nashua and went to Boston for an easy transition to Concord.
At Concord it was time for all of the autorotation procedures. We spent some time getting used to the rotor system – it is a bit different from the 22 – where the 22 has the downside of quickly losing RPM, it has the upside of quickly gaining RPM. This is always a sticking point for many 44 transitions – don’t overcontrol the collective. But this was quickly a non-issue and we moved on – to get fuel.
After fuel, some homework on Google Maps, and a nice fuel bill, we headed to our next destination. But, not before picking up without the governor, and doing a pattern without the governor. Again – a non-issue, so I had him do a few left pedal turns in the hover to fully understand the power requirements and feel the throttle response without the governor.
Well, if you’re wondering where we were heading, it was to the Mount Washington Hotel. This introduces a few things to the new 44 pilot. The cross country capabilities, some high density operations, some mountain operations, some confined operations, and what it’s like to see the greatest hotel in New England from the air.
But before we reached this great aerial shot, we needed to go through “The Notch” – the Franconia Notch. I informed my client that the Old Man of the Mountain was no longer on the mountain – he was in the valley. I could see a bit of nervousness as the terrain rose quickly toward the Notch – but the weather was cooperating and this made the flight much more enjoyable. Going through the Notch for the first time is a little scary. Actually, going through the Notch after the first time can still be a bit exciting. Caution is of utmost imprtance – and ALWAYS HAVE A PLAN. As we approached the Notch I mentioned to keep the speed back a bit in case things turned when we went between Cannon and Lafayette.
Going through the Notch is a great experience for any pilot. On to the Mount Washington Hotel and the wonderful reception from Mr. Fred Hollis – the hotel security manager. Fred is always there to “wave us in” with his wands, and his experiences with helicopters goes back to when I was not even born. He is a great guy -and always watches out for us on approach. Thank you once again Fred!
A quick glamor shot (the helicopter not me) and off we went.
An approach to a semi-confined area, it was a bit warm, and since the hotel is about 1700 feet MSL, it requires a little extra attention. Another good feature for the transition pilot.
Back through the Notch we went. A little work on the Garmin 420 enroute, some fuel calculations, and home to Lawrence – LWM.
Not without first working an OGE hover into a settling with power situation – this is a good exercise in familiarization. Avoid at all costs otherwise.
To end our almost 6 hour cross country, we needed to do a running landing, and a few hover autorotations – pilot and instruction initiated. Some pedal, settle, and cushion to keep the old bird happy.
But now came the final test. After 6 hours in the seat, how would the pilot handle the slope landings. And the toughest (I think) of all – the upslope tail low landing.
The short answer – no problem at all. Perfection. He will do well on his own. Probably better without me anyway.
But – we can’t end a good day here. We need to throw in one last exercise – hover taxi behind the hangar. Best left to commercial pilots – he did just fine. Signoff celebrations ensue.
It is always nice to fly with pilots that exude professionalism. Thank you, Tseko, for coming to our school, and if you ever have any questions, please call me.