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Sounds great Kevin! Isn't it nice when everything comes together?!
"Really" looking forward to reading about your check ride! :-D
"The OTHER Kevin in San Diego" skiddz "AT" adelphia "DOT" net wrote in
Man am I tired.. Got in two flights today and FINALLY finished up my
solo X-country requirements - with a partial equipment failure to
1st up was an 8am hop wish Q to polish up my skills so I hit the road
about 6:15. To say traffic sucked would be putting it lightly.
Finally pulled up to the hangar about 7:45 - 90 minutes to drive 43
miles. yech! - and blistered through my paperwork. Q met me at the
ship as I was finishing up the preflight and once I was done, headed
to the john to perform my physiological preflight ritual. (i.e the
As soon as I got back to the ship, Q says "Give me your passenger
briefing." I dove into how to approach the helicopter, how to enter
it, how to buckle/unbuckle the belts, what not to touch, when it was
ok to talk, when it's ok to get out, if you're gonna puke, puke on
your side etc... Q had a couple small suggestions after I was done (I
never knew you had to lift the seat belt latch a full 90 degrees to
release it) and we climbed aboard.
Soon I was ready to go but had to wait for a couple other ships to
leave the ramp area before I could pick up and be on my way. I
started my running commentary to practice how I was going to do things
on my check ride Monday and proceeded to pick up and taxi to the hold
short line. I called the tower, requested takeoff and was soon
cleared as requested. Wind was reported 300@5 but if felt like
nothing was moving at all.. Q told me the DPE likes to see about a 5'
hover taxi so I stepped up a bit and got into position for takeoff.
I'd asked for a short delay on the runway so I could do a max
performance takeoff so once in position, I set it down, throttled down
to 75% and ran through the procedure. Mag check, carb heat down and
locked, mixture full, consult the MAP chart for max takeoff power then
throttled up and let the governor take over. RPMs stabilized in the
green, engine instruments in the green, no warning lights, carb air
temp was ok..
Pulled power to about 20 inches and got it light on the skids.
Stopped any movement and pulled right to max power - in this case
23.4" and climbed vertically above the tower height and then fed in a
little forward cyclic to get us moving through ETL.. Once established
in the climb, I accelerated to 60 knots and reduced power to climb at
500 FPM and made a normal departure from the area.
On the way to RNM, Q flipped off the governor and had me roll the
throttle off until the low rotor horn came on without descending and
then recover. I then had to do it from 90% which was a bit tougher to
do without redlining the MAP gauge and it took me a couple tries to
keep the MAP gauge steady while recovering but once I'd figured out
the throttle increase with collective decrease "ratio" I was dialed
We flew governor off the rest of the way to RNM and then Q had me do a
normal approach to the ground then governor off pickups. A couple
throttling up to 104% and reducing throttle as I pulled collective and
a couple throttling to 80% and letting the correlator help out in
getting to 104%. Piece of cake.
Another school ship was in the pattern with us and it was operating at
the far West end of the runway so Q had me do a quick stop to the next
taxiway up which received a "good.." comment from Q and then off we
went to do a steep approach. No problems there so it was around again
to do autos..
Q wanted me to aim for the numbers so from about 800' AGL, I entered,
set the pitch angle, arrested the RPM climb with the collective and
pretty much rode it down to the flare and recovery. I ended up
getting a little slow (60 knots) just before the initial flare, but
ended up in a 3' hover right over the numbers.
Around again for another one and came up a little short of the number,
but not by more than a couple helicopter lengths. I entered a little
early and bled off too much airspeed initially but Q said it was
within practical standards..
The last one the tower called my base so I had to make it a turning
auto which flustered me a little bit 'cuz I forgot how the RPMs slow
after coming out of the turn and had to listen to the low rotor rpm
buzzer almost all the way down.. Still within test standards though.
Went around again for a steep approach to the ground and then a
running takeoff limited to 20". Hover power was about 22" so it took
a little pedal jostling to get the thing sliding and then it seemed to
take forever to accelerate to ETL and get the thing to "pop" off the
runway. Once up, I kept it in ground effect to 50 knots and then
began to climb out.. On the other end of the pattern, I did a shallow
approach to a running landing. Not too bad considering I haven't done
more than 4 or 5 of those ever.. Still within standards though.
Time to head back as the ship was only good for 1.4 hours before a
100-hour was due. About halfway back, Q told me the DPE would chop
the throttle on me and told me how it'd play out - about 2 seconds
before he chopped the throttle.. I don't think my brain registered
the chop before my right leg mashed the right pedal and my left arm
dropped the collective and my right arm set the pitch angle for the
Once established in the glide, I pointed the nose into the wind and
looked for a place to set down. Nothing below but hills and canyons
and I finally spotted a flat spot below, but I was too high to make it
and started bleeding off airspeed a bit too much to try and shorten it
up. In retrospect, not a good plan.. Airspeed = energy and bleeding
it off wasn't the way to do it.. Q took over and explained what I'd
done wrong and after thinking about it for the past few hours, I
realized something I should have remembered from my fixed wing days..
S-turns will eat up altitude without bleeding off too much energy..
Gonna have to ask Q about that tomorrow when I do my "mini check" with
I called tower about 8 miles out for landing and was cleared in
immediately. The approach and touchdown were uneventful and as the
ship was cooling down, I asked Q if he had time to go over some flight
planning questions I had. He was free for the next couple hours so we
headed to the cafe and I ate while he asked and answered questions
regarding flight planning and cockpit resource management..
(Something that was very lightly brushed upon in ground school and the
books we were issued are worthless for flight planning, much less how
to get your **** together in the cockpit.)
After I finished eating, Q said to come to his office and he'd give me
a mini oral exam but I only had an hour until my next flight so I
headed to the hangar to finish up my flight planning. A few phone
calls to the automated services and one to the local FSS got me up to
speed on the winds and weather and I knocked out the final details of
my plan in about 40 mins.
Preflight went well and I had to wait for the fuel truck to top off
the tanks, but I had a 4 hour window to make a 98 mile round trip so
no big deal. As I was strapping in, I noticed some guy with a camera
snapping pictures of the helicopters on the ramp and some of the pads
themselves. I didn't pay him much mind as I set up the GPS and got
the avionics dialed in. The GPS threw me for a bit of a loop 'cuz I
had a brain fart and forgot French Valley (F70) was not part of the
ICAO "master plan" and dialed in KF70. The GPS puked on that
identifier and asked if I wanted to add it as a waypoint. Well, not
knowing the lat and long, I declined and figured it'd be a good
exercise if I didn't use the GPS and relied on dead reckoning and
pilotage like in the "good old days". Besides, I ended up figuring
out my mental flatulence on the way back.
Ship warmed up and all kneeboard arranged how I wanted it, and I was
all ready to go. The "paparazzi" was still there and I noticed him
aiming the camera my way. Guess I got camera shy 'cuz the pickup was
just ugly and as got it stabilized, I shook my head and saw the
shutterbug take a few steps backwards.. hehehe
The departure was a 270 degree climbing turn so as soon as I passed
back over midfield at 900' I made note of the time, established my 1st
leg heading and started looking for landmarks. 5:30 later I'm right
over the top of my 1st point - right on time. I'm about 8 miles
south of RNM so I punch up the numbers on the GPS's radio. All I hear
is static while trying to get the ATIS info (Or was it ASOS.. I'm
tired, can't remember what they've got there) but it can't be much
different than it was an hour before when I finished up the flight
plan. I do catch the information ID so call the tower for clearance
to transition their airpspace to the north.
I'm met with nothing but static. Great. the comms on the GPS are
fragged.. That kinda ruins my game plan a bit. I hear enough of the
tower to ask them to standby while I switch radios and have to dial up
the numbers on COM1. Much better this time and I'm cleared over the
top at my present altitude.
The following leg goes well and after my next checkpoint, I'm on a 12
mile, 9 minute leg to a small private airfield I've never seen before.
I'm 8 mins into it and I can't see the field. I've checked the chart
a couple times on this leg and thought I knew exactly where I was and
think about doing a 360 climbing turn to figure out where I am. Just
as I start the turn, I see the hangars and turn back on course.
No wonder I had a hard time finding the damned thing. It's like a
single lane road and almost camouflaged. I flew right over midfield,
turned to my next heading and started the mental countdown again. I
was feeling good about my dead reckoning at that point, but of course,
I'm a student pilot so I can't NOT make a mistake.
Not sure if it was my figuring or a winds change, but I ended up a
couple miles off course to the East and had a hard time locating my
next checkpoint. Funny 'cuz you'd think a golf course would be easy
to spot from 1,500' AGL. I finally spotted it and made a bee-line for
it and made a mental note to reduce fuel remaining by about a gallon.
Once over the course I made my turn to my final leg and dialed up the
unicom freq for French Valley. I tried the ATIS/ASOS/AWOS freq on the
GPS radio again, but it was still nothing but static. Made my 1st
call about 6 miles out and called again as I entered the 45 to the
downwind and then called all my legs to landing.
Only other traffic was a Cessna taxiing to the takeoff end of the
runway and he offered to hold his position while I hover taxied clear
of the active. I set down in transient parking and gave myself a
little pat on the back. No GPS and I made it to my destination
I shuffled some papers on my kneeboard and then taxied to the hold
short line at taxiway Delta and waiting for my Cessna buddy to finish
his run up and takeoff then made the call I was taking the active and
would be departing to the south.
The flight back was cake. My headings and times were pretty much dead
on. I wasn't more than a minute ahead or behind any of my leg times
for any portion of the trip back and with frequent peeks at the chart,
knew where I was all the time. The GPS sure makes it easy, but dead
reckoning is a lot more fun and challenging.
About halfway back, I decide to try the Nearest function on the GPS
and as I'm scrolling through the airport IDs, I see L18 (Fallbrook)
pop up. The lightbulb above my head comes on and I mash the Direct
button, dial in F70 and am met immediately with French Valley's info..
I actually laughed out loud at my stupidity and as my "punishment"
left F70 plugged in on my way back. I hadn't used the GPS to get
there, I wasn't going to use it to get back.
I get back to home base just fine and ask to join the pattern for 27
left. I needed 1.1 hours and am pushing 1.5 at this point so I
decided I'll do a few patterns and then call it a day. 4 or 5 trips
around the patch and I'm good. My ass is numb and my head hurts from
the constant "buzz" as my headset contacts the cabin. I've got a long
torso and I'm a tick over 6'1" so the only way to keep my head off the
cabin is to cock it to the side and that hurts my neck after 20 mins
Last time around I call for a full stop with taxi back to the ramp.
As I taxi off the runway to the ramp, I see a couple other students
watching so I over-concentrate and the setdown is a bit sloppy.
*******s messed me up by watching. ehhehe
As the ship is cooling down I see Q walking out. Just as I'm about to
roll throttle to idle he approaches from the front and asks how it
went. "Piece of cake." I tell him. Those aren't just words. The
hour he spent with me in the cafe really helped me get my cockpit
management dialed in and it really wasn't that hard. Staying busy
verifying my route and keeping tabs on leg times really made it work
smoothly. I feel a LOT better about X-country flights tonight than I
did a few days ago.
2.1 was my total time and with the 1.3 I got earlier, that makes for a
long time in an R22 for one day. The good thing is all my
requirements have been met for my PPH and I've got one more
"polishing" flight tomorrow before I really dive into the books.
Oh crap.. Just remembered I have an instrument quiz tomorrow night..
Guess I'll hit THOSE books right now before I hit the sack and save
the other stuff for tomorrow..
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