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First 2 Hours of Dual Training In the Can
This past weekend I was finally able to log my first 2 hours of dual training. It was awesome, and one heck of an eye opener, too.

My son, Trevor (age 37, no previous experience other than some fixed wing instruction years ago), also logged his first 2 hours at the same airport. Eric at Canyon State Aero in Mesa, AZ was our instructor. He's great, and we'll both be asking for him for all future lessons. We trained in a Schweitzer 300. For the first hour, Eric took us about 20 miles from the airport where we flew over some fantastic scenery, and both of us handled this part of our respective lessons very well. I found that flying the Scheweitzer at cruise speed isn't that different than flying fixed wing. Trevor also did well in this phase.

The "eye opener" -- for me at least -- was during my second hour, which was devoted to hovering and hover taxiing. While my son did quite well, I was all over the place! It surprised me. I really thought I'd nail this or at least do reasonably well. It was actually embarrassing. I tried very hard not to over control but apparently that was what was happening, and every time the instructor handed the controls back to me (after saving our lives a dozen times) I'd almost instantly lose it again. Actually, my instructor in this (my second hour) was not Eric (who I'd had in the first hour, and who was Trevor's instructor for both of his hours). Due to a scheduling error, they had to call in another instructor so I could get my second hour in without having to come back next day. This was an older fellow (younger than me, mind you, but older than Eric) and I found that I was not comfortable with the match up. We didn't seem to jibe. Maybe I'd have done better if I could have stuck with Eric for the hovering . . . but then again maybe I'm just rationalizing.

It could be that I'm having to UNLEARN some fixed wing habits, or more to the point, muscle memory. I'm fine when flying the helicopter at altitude and at faster speeds, but when I'm trying to handle it close to the ground and in hover mode I'm probably moving the cyclic too much (brain still thinks I'm handling the stick in my Challenger, which of course isn't near so touchy). That's my story and I'm sticking to it : )

Looks like some time yet before I get to practice in my Mosquito!

Thanks for reading . . .

George Robertson
Mosquito owner (formerly Kerry's XEL Mosquito)

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Well done. My brother is still looking for the "hover" switch in the R44, he thinks it is hidden somewhere and only instructors and owners know where to find it. Hovering will happen, just relax and enjoy the ride. You will soon be in the Mosquito and thinking back to these tougher days of early rotary learning. I too came from a fixed wing background, but the dream for rotary is too great to put to one side. You will have many enjoyable hours flying the helicopters. :-)

Thanks for the encouragement, it'll come in handy. I wish it were easier, but then again I'm glad it's not THAT easy. Gives me something to work toward.

George, Your honest account made me smile…deja vu… from long ago! Having become an airline pilot, charter pilot and fixed wing flight instructor…I figured that this Helicopter flying thing would be kind of like like a check out in a new airplane. Ha! My experience was identical to yours. Forward flight ok. Flew like a poorly harmonized airplane.
Hover was a different story. No amount of fixed wing flying prepares you for the transition to helicopter hover. I love a challenge so I became a Helicopter Instructor.
If I may offer some of my early insights… 1. When trying to hold the Beast still, watch the main rotor blade tip path and "fly the disc" not the body. The body will follow the blades!
2. When you make a correction input know that you will be taking it out almost completely.
3. Try to relax and take it all in.
4. After your lesson, go some place where you can sit, eyes closed and "relive" the lesson.
Thanks for sharing,
Paul G.
Paul and George,

Let me add my "years" of experience or "experience of years" to the pile. My instructor sounds like Paul. he taught me to site from the edge of the blade until I could get oriented, keep my arm rested on my leg and only move the stick with my finger tips which limits the amount the cyclic can move and it keeps you from establishing a death grip on the stick. By gosh it worked at about hour 4. Then it felt really comfortable.

Keep at it George, it will work then you'll look back and wonder why it didn't happen sooner.

Good luck and have fun,

Hey Arrow, tell your brother that it is part of the settings for the autopilot. Oh, wait a minute, Frank didn't put that on 44s did he?
Damn the luck...
Thanks - I am sure Neal will find the switch one day. He had another go today and he couldn't find the autopilot either. I told him about ApacheXel flight and he said he could feel his pain!!
The advise about realizing that any correction you put in will be taken away is very accurate, I found relaxing was the best thing for me, but that is hard with everything whizzing around your head. I hadn't heard about looking at the disc, so will try that myself and pass it on too. Smile
Hey everyone, I really appreciate the tips. Haven't had an opportunity to try again yet but it's coming -- I'll be recalling all of these posts when it does. "Flying the rotor tips" really sounds like it might work for me, and relaxing is the one thing I know I WASN'T doing when I was in hour 2. Of course I hover like a champ in my dreams, quite often. Anyone know what lucid dreaming is? I do it fairly regularly and that's when I can make Dwight look like a beginner!!! Smile
I have 4 one hour lessons in a R22 now. I have two more 1 hour lessons scheduled this week. The first 3 was just like most of you guys in that we flew at 1000' and just did some close to the ground pedal work. I have nerve damage from my 7 back operations so I wasn't able to work the pedals the last time out but I did work the cyclic and collective while I tried to hover. I too had periods of over correcting. I'm going to try the 2 finger method too, my problem is the R22 cyclic is not like the mosquitos or 300C. My instructor is also older than me and I don't really care for him but I figure I'm the one that has to get the feel for it, I look at it as me just renting his machine for me to practice in, I understand what to do and having him there in case I don't have control over what I'm doing is what I'm paying for. He also can show me how to perform the steps it takes to fly it. Once I feel I'm able to practice hovering in my machine that's what I plan to do. I will take lessons only when its time to move up to the next stage of flying the mosquito. I live about an hour away from Leo Faucher so I will also practice by him under his guidance. Good luck to you !

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