Best Birthday gift ever in an R22


Ex-RAF 2000 Driver
Oct 30, 2003
Hillsboro, Oregon
I just got back from one of the most exciting flying experiences I can ever remember. My wife and her best friend paid for an hour helicopter instruction for my birthday. Today I cashed it in.

I have always wondered how much of my 330 hours of gyro experience would transfer to a helicopter.

I arrived at Hillsboro Aviation by 7:30am, which is a large training school. That place was busy. Lots of foreign students all dressed in their uniforms. We got an early start to beat the heat that has finally arrived in the Pacific Northwest.

My pilot/instructor was Austrian, and had a little that took a little getting used to. We talked ahead of time so that he understood that I was looking to do as much flying as he thought I could handle.

I did have some trouble with my tall torso. My head hit the ceiling in the R22 and I would knock my headset off kilter every once in a while.

I started flying the machine (all controls) shortly after the pilot took us up and out of the traffic area.

It took me a couple minutes of straight and level to get the basic feel for the machine. The instructor just told me which way to go, what altitude and airspeed and my instincts took over. (The cyclic controlled airspeed like I'm used to in the gyro, and my gyro throttle hand on the collective controlled up/down kinda like I'm used to.)

The pilot did take the controls to demonstrate a landing on a clearcut platform 1500ft up on a Coast Range hill. We had 3 platforms to choose from, but a deer was hogging one of them. He tested the hover capability out of ground effect at our hill height (over the valley) before heading to the platform. It was breathtaking to take off from that hill and watch the ground fall away. Wish I could have video taped it, but that was too much to worry about.

He also demonstrated a couple autorotations, one a simulated engine out so I got to experience DOWN in a fast but controllable way.

We maneuvered around over the countryside with me getting the feel of the machine. He said he was comfortable with me at the controls. I let him do the radio work when it was time to come back in the pattern.

He had me do the approach to landing, although I wasn't clear on the spot he had picked so I could have done better with that.

I was able to hover the helicopter in a short order and surprised the he said ok, try a 90 degree left pivot over a point. Did that ok, followed by one to the right. Then he said, ok looks like I need to challenge you so he had me try a pirouette. That one I didn't do so good, but kinda approximated it. Every once in a while I would stiffen up and loose it and asked the instructor to "fix it" for me. He saved me a couple times that way.

I did one touchdown too, which could have been better.

I did some of the final air taxi and parking it, but I know the instructor was on the controls with me for that part. I'm a little sore from scrunching down in the seat, and tensing up a couple times during hover. But otherwise, it was the bestest birthday present I can remember getting.
Gary- It looks like the bug bit you. Sounds like you did very well! There is nothing like it that I have experienced. I am flying R22 Saturday. Stan
i love hovering into..........

i love hovering into..........

places like this. one happy camper!!!!!!!!!
Best Birthday gift ever in an R22

Best Birthday gift ever in an R22
Ed- That picture of your chopper along the stream says it all. I can't put into words properly what it means to fly in the 3rd dimension , that a helicopter provides. If the hover and land almost anywhere bug doesn't bite you, then you don't need this 3rd dimension of flight, which is flying without the need for any forward movement, a hover lover. Stan