Maintaining currency

Vance

Gyroplane CFI
Staff member
Joined
Oct 30, 2003
Messages
18,373
Location
Santa Maria, California
Aircraft
Givens Predator
Total Flight Time
2600+ in rotorcraft
When I road raced motorcycles (23 years) at the beginning of each season after a ten week layoff I would be typically four seconds a lap slower than I was at the end of previous season when racing the same motorcycle. Four seconds is a long time for someone who usually didn’t vary more than half a second a lap. It would take me three or four races to get back up to speed.

It appears to me that skills are fragile when doing something that requires complex skills and judgment.

In my opinion flying a gyroplane well takes skill and judgment and I had not been flying for over two weeks so I headed down to SMX for some practice.

I carefully went through my startup and run up check lists and called ground for taxi to runway three zero with Papa and repeated; Gyroplane one four two Mike Golf taxi to runway three zero via Romeo, Alpha five.

The Santa Maria Airport is a little torn up for construction changing my normal routine and radio calls. I was pleased that I did not trip over the changes.

A different voice was on tower and gyroplane one four two Mike Golf was cleared for takeoff at Alpha Five and I was to make left closed traffic and report abeam with intentions. Sometimes I have trouble understanding a female voce but hers was nice and easy to understand.

My log book has over five thousand takeoffs and landings so it is not like I didn’t know how to do it just as I did not forget how to ride a road racing motorcycle in the off season.

In The Predator (two place tandem with a 160 horsepower Lycoming IO-320 with a free castering nose gear and a weak pre-rotator) once the rotor reaches 180 rpm I go to full power and soon the nose will come up and I began continuously moving the cyclic forward to balance on the mains. I steer with the pedals until she lifts off and then she steers with the cyclic.

In a good takeoff she is on the centerline and the nose tire is around an inch off the ground. She will lift off on her own around 45kts indicated air speed and I keep the nose down accelerating to 50kts to climb out. Pattern altitude at SMX is 800 feet so at 750 feet I began to reduce power leveling off at 800 feet.

Sometimes this will happen before my cross wind turn and sometimes after depending on conditions.

Wind is seldom calm or steady at SMX.

During a good power on landing I reduce power to 1,400 rpm, maintain 50kts until I began my roundout at 20 feet above the ground and continually bring the cyclic back until I flare at less than a foot touching down gently on the centerline at near zero ground speed.

My first takeoff the nose came up a little higher than I would like after giving her full throttle and I lifted off at around 40kts.

With a gusting wind at two seven zero degrees at fifteen knots she wandered a little to the left on lift off with her nose pointed left.

The magic of the first takeoff always exceeds my expectations as she leaps off the ground despite my piloting being less than perfect.

I felt my cross wind turn roll out was a little sloppy and I had to correct my heading about five degrees left.

Mid field, downwind I requested and received runway three zero cleared for the option.

I let my altitude get a little low turning base.

Round out was nice and right at fifty knots but I felt insecure about just where the ground was just before touchdown.

Touchdown was nice but slightly right of the centerline as I gently let the nose tire touch down.

I vowed to do better and most of my nine patterns were progressively a little better in the details and I felt a little more confident about where the ground was at the end of the hour.

A couple of times I drifted right of the centerline just before touchdown.

I feel I am still a little sloppy exiting some of the turns on heading.

My airspeed and altitude are defiantly improved.

I debriefed myself as though I was a learner and after filling up I sat in front of the hangar in the afterglow enjoying replaying various parts of the flight.

I downloaded my GoPro and reviewed the flight and my radio calls.
 

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  • 3 power on descent at 800 feet per minute and 50kts.jpg
    3 power on descent at 800 feet per minute and 50kts.jpg
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  • 4 touch down slightly right of centerline.jpg
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  • 5 a little nicer lift off.jpg
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  • 6 a little fast 52kts on climb out.jpg
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I find after being out for a bit the main skills that are a bit rusty are radio and procedure skills; the actual flying part seems to be more like riding a bicycle. But then I am probably not as particular as you about things like the centerline and such.
 
When I road raced motorcycles (23 years) at the beginning of each season after a ten week layoff I would be typically four seconds a lap slower than I was at the end of previous season when racing the same motorcycle. Four seconds is a long time for someone who usually didn’t vary more than half a second a lap. It would take me three or four races to get back up to speed.

It appears to me that skills are fragile when doing something that requires complex skills and judgment.

In my opinion flying a gyroplane well takes skill and judgment and I had not been flying for over two weeks so I headed down to SMX for some practice.

I carefully went through my startup and run up check lists and called ground for taxi to runway three zero with Papa and repeated; Gyroplane one four two Mike Golf taxi to runway three zero via Romeo, Alpha five.

The Santa Maria Airport is a little torn up for construction changing my normal routine and radio calls. I was pleased that I did not trip over the changes.

A different voice was on tower and gyroplane one four two Mike Golf was cleared for takeoff at Alpha Five and I was to make left closed traffic and report abeam with intentions. Sometimes I have trouble understanding a female voce but hers was nice and easy to understand.

My log book has over five thousand takeoffs and landings so it is not like I didn’t know how to do it just as I did not forget how to ride a road racing motorcycle in the off season.

In The Predator (two place tandem with a 160 horsepower Lycoming IO-320 with a free castering nose gear and a weak pre-rotator) once the rotor reaches 180 rpm I go to full power and soon the nose will come up and I began continuously moving the cyclic forward to balance on the mains. I steer with the pedals until she lifts off and then she steers with the cyclic.

In a good takeoff she is on the centerline and the nose tire is around an inch off the ground. She will lift off on her own around 45kts indicated air speed and I keep the nose down accelerating to 50kts to climb out. Pattern altitude at SMX is 800 feet so at 750 feet I began to reduce power leveling off at 800 feet.

Sometimes this will happen before my cross wind turn and sometimes after depending on conditions.

Wind is seldom calm or steady at SMX.

During a good power on landing I reduce power to 1,400 rpm, maintain 50kts until I began my roundout at 20 feet above the ground and continually bring the cyclic back until I flare at less than a foot touching down gently on the centerline at near zero ground speed.

My first takeoff the nose came up a little higher than I would like after giving her full throttle and I lifted off at around 40kts.

With a gusting wind at two seven zero degrees at fifteen knots she wandered a little to the left on lift off with her nose pointed left.

The magic of the first takeoff always exceeds my expectations as she leaps off the ground despite my piloting being less than perfect.

I felt my cross wind turn roll out was a little sloppy and I had to correct my heading about five degrees left.

Mid field, downwind I requested and received runway three zero cleared for the option.

I let my altitude get a little low turning base.

Round out was nice and right at fifty knots but I felt insecure about just where the ground was just before touchdown.

Touchdown was nice but slightly right of the centerline as I gently let the nose tire touch down.

I vowed to do better and most of my nine patterns were progressively a little better in the details and I felt a little more confident about where the ground was at the end of the hour.

A couple of times I drifted right of the centerline just before touchdown.

I feel I am still a little sloppy exiting some of the turns on heading.

My airspeed and altitude are defiantly improved.

I debriefed myself as though I was a learner and after filling up I sat in front of the hangar in the afterglow enjoying replaying various parts of the flight.

I downloaded my GoPro and reviewed the flight and my radio calls.
Vance,

To my recollection, the U.S. Army requires a minimum of nine hours a month to maintain proficiency. That equates to 108 hours a year. This does not seem very much flight time for a military aviator. Unfortunately, 108 hours is more than average for a GA pilot per year.

With your post, you definitely recognize the need to maintain proficient. Do you think flying least 2.1 hours a week (2.1 x 52=109.2) will keep yourself proficient?

Wayne
 
Gosh...the modal (most-common) annual hours in the UK is about 20-30 hours... 😲
 
Vance,

To my recollection, the U.S. Army requires a minimum of nine hours a month to maintain proficiency. That equates to 108 hours a year. This does not seem very much flight time for a military aviator. Unfortunately, 108 hours is more than average for a GA pilot per year.

With your post, you definitely recognize the need to maintain proficient. Do you think flying least 2.1 hours a week (2.1 x 52=109.2) will keep yourself proficient?

Wayne
In my day it was 4 hrs a month to maintain flight pay. The only ones that flew that few were ground unit commanders and desk jockeys.
 
Gosh...the modal (most-common) annual hours in the UK is about 20-30 hours... 😲
Twenty to Thirty hours of dual given per year would not begin to meet my operating expenses.

Anything less than two hundred hours of instruction given per year and I would not be able to afford to be a flight instructor.

Circumstances may cause a break in my flying and that is why I feel it is so important to maintain currency with practice before I take on the responsibility of a passenger or learner.

I love being a flight instructor and would not charge if I was independently wealthy; I am not.
 
I find after being out for a bit the main skills that are a bit rusty are radio and procedure skills; the actual flying part seems to be more like riding a bicycle. But then I am probably not as particular as you about things like the centerline and such.
Funny you should mention radio calls loftus as that is one of the ways I gage my proficiency.

When I make two mistakes on the radio I head back to the hangar and get my head together or don’t fly at all.

My most common mistake is not reading back a complex taxi or takeoff instruction correctly.

I want everything to feel natural and effortless.
 
I love being a flight instructor and would not charge if I was independently wealthy; I am not.
I understand. I give free instruction to members of my glider club, while they provide the aircraft (usually a club-owned ship) and they pay for the launch tow fee. For those who take lots of instruction (e.g., ab initio to PPL) I ask them to make a donation to the club instead of fees to me.

I'm lucky to be enjoying retirement and don't have to instruct for income.
 
I understand. I give free instruction to members of my glider club, while they provide the aircraft (usually a club-owned ship) and they pay for the launch tow fee. For those who take lots of instruction (e.g., ab initio to PPL) I ask them to make a donation to the club instead of fees to me.

I'm lucky to be enjoying retirement and don't have to instruct for income.
I like that arrangement, and it's similar to the LTA (Hot Air Balloon, in this case) instructor for whom I have been serving as ground crew. Basically, you pay for fuel and breakfast for the crew and the instructor. (It takes at least 2 additional people other than the pilot, ideally at least 4, to launch a hot air balloon safely.)
 
My balloon instructor carried a folding bicycle in the basket for one-man excursions. He would inflate and launch solo, land and pack up, bike back to the launch site, retrieve the vehicle, drive to the landing site, and pick up the balloon. Seriously dedicated!
 
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