You got your pilots license? Lets see .......

scott heger

Custom-made Troublemaker
Joined
Dec 14, 2003
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1,635
Location
Southern California
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SportCopter Bell 206L-1
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About 6 months ago, a friend introduced me to a young man that was interested in getting his PPL in helicopters. I talked to him on the phone, and then took him for a real nice flight. He called me a couple of months ago, and said he was almost finished with his training. I invited him along for another flight, and without going into the details, lets just say the purpose was to build his confidence in flying and abilities.

So this week he calls me back and says he has just passed all his test , and received his PPL -Rotorcraft-Helicopters on Tuesday. I asked him how his flying was going , and he said that he had already taken two friends on different flights. I am not a big believer that new Helicopter pilots should start off taking PAX around until doing another 10-20 hours solo to all the local airports here(30 airports+ within 50 miles) and learning the traffic patterns.

I asked him if he would like to log his first turbine helicopter time with me, and he said that would be great. We set a time to meet Friday afternoon. Upon my arrival to the airport , I notice he has someone with him. It is his best friend, and he wanted to take him along. Not counting on a passenger, and not liking surprises, I asked him if he thought it might be nice to have told me beforehand. He agreed he should have mentioned it when he called, but hey it's a 7 place helicopter. OK, now your going to get a lesson your instructor never gave you. So you want to be P.I.C. today? Let's see how you do, and it's not going to be pretty, or impress your buddy much.

So Mr. PIC with two hours logged on his PPL was ready to go. We spent 20 minutes on preflight, fueled, and I started asking him how much under gross weight we were? He of course had no clue. After feeding him the numbers, his addition was 150 pounds off. I told him next time we were not going flying without him completing a full written fuel/weight/balance calculation. It was 97 degrees outside, so I told we were off to the highest airport in Southern California , Big Bear Lake (L35) at 6752 feet. He didn't seem bothered, or ask about what the D.A chart would be.

We arrived 25 minutes later, and his flying was good, but his radio skills were pure rookie. So much for the confidence building part of the trip, on his flight back he would not be as lucky. I ordered more fuel(not needed) to put the helicopter at gross weight for 10,000 foot D.A.conditions we were in.

I told him we had added a little too much Jet fuel, and I needed him to recalculate if we could take off, or we all were going to have to spend the night until it cooled off the next day. He said he had plans in L.A. that evening, and had not thought we could be "stranded" in the mountains. He looked worried, but after doing all the math, we were just under allowable limits(gee , what a shock).

The takeoff went fine and we were climbing out at almost 8,000 feet, until a Japanese student in a fixed wind started entering the area. As typical, they only know what to say in English by memorization, and don't get much more grasp of the language. He then came on and told us that his was indicating 100 feet above us on a collision indicator, but he didn't see us. He didn't say where he was how far from the airport, or any other indication of a landmark. I immediately put us into a steep dive to 7,000 feet. It ends the idiot student was at least five miles away. MR PIC got a little rattled after that.

On the way back, 6 miles from a controlled airport that he had never been to, I told him that his best friend in the back seat looked sick(not really, but he played along) and that we had to land right away. I made him circle, while looking up all the information to the airport from the map chart, including frequencies(which I knew). I then had him get the ATIS, call the tower, and tell them we were inbound. The controller at this airport can be quite surely at times , if you don't have your act together. While we your coming in, he had been busy balling out another Japanese student for not setting up a VOR approach correctly, and staying on the runway too long at taxi speed. Mr PIC's voice showed the stress, and the controller picked up on it, and did not mess with us, even assiting us with progressive landing instructions, though the communications on our side was poor.

By this time , I think that he had got the message that he was not doing so well, as he was pretty rattled, and that maybe he had way more to learn and was a bit over his head. I flew us back to Corona, and we landed to talk about the flight. I then said that it was a bad idea to fly his friends around until he had more time, and until knew the local airports better, and what would be expected of him at each airport. He took the advice well, and then I told him that I had messed with him on purpose, but that lots of unexpected things can and do happen, and you better have a plan ready to go. He promised to work on the radio skills, airport familiarity, and that I would give him a destination to plan in advance on our next flight. He walked away with his first 1.3 hours turbine PIC time logged in his logbook with 7 landings.

Nobody said flying is easy after you get your license. Oh, by the way, another pilot did this to me right after I got my PPL. It was by far the most valuable flight lesson I have ever had. I think it may have been for this new pilot also.

Scott Heger, Laguna Niguel,Ca N86SH
 

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bones

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Chtrs Twrs Australia
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a/c
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cant remember, didnt have log books before, but since over 3000
Scott,
He is lucky to have you around to call and talk to about stuff, and especially to take for flights to get his time up, and yes in the early hours it doesnt take much to upset the perfect plans that were laid out for you, double thumbs up to you buddy.
 

brett s

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May 29, 2004
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Ball Ground, GA
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More new pilots need someone like you to get them in touch with reality, nice job. Sounds like he took it the right way too :)

It's a shame that many (most?) instructors don't do the same.
 

barnstorm2

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Nov 1, 2003
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Cincinnati, Ohio
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2-place Air Command CLT SxS (project), & Twinstarr Autogyro
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Best story I have read in a long time.

Excellent advise.

A new pilot nor a new machine should not be carrying passingers until it's seen some time!

.
 

JEFF TIPTON

Senior Member
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DICKSON, TN
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All pilots need a mentor. New, old, high time low time.

The nice thing about this industry, always someone willing to help. Sometimes from the strangest places.
 

Douglas Riley

Senior Member
Joined
Mar 27, 2004
Messages
140
I teach sailing. Same advice applies to that activity, too. Having to entertain/protect a rookie "crew" can result in mental overload for a new skipper. He/she is much better off doing early outings with experienced crew members.
 

scott heger

Custom-made Troublemaker
Joined
Dec 14, 2003
Messages
1,635
Location
Southern California
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SportCopter Bell 206L-1
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1350
Brett, I think the instructors are more involved in building confidence and skills than throwing unplanned problems, one right after another at the students. As I said before , my best flying lessons came +after+ I got my license. Nice and humbling screw-ups I made, but still yet to ding a aircraft, 800 hours and nearly 2000 landings and climbing.

Scott Heger,Laguna Niguel,Ca N86SH
 

brett s

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Ball Ground, GA
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I was lucky I guess - spent 6 years as a military helicopter crewmember before learning to fly, all that exposure to real-world flying helped a great deal.

I started ferrying helicopters between job sites for an ag operator with 43 hours TT, made a deal to work cheap as ground crew/mechanic (I had an A&P license too) in order to build time. The owner gave me a 15 minute checkout in a type I'd never flown before & turned me loose, pretty risky on his part being that they had no hull insurance either! Then again, he also put me to work spaying crops as soon as I got my CPL a year or so later :)
 
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