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How did you learn to fly?

Would any of you care to share how you came to fly helicopters? Military/commercial pilots/self-taught? Some of you probably have been flying all your lives and maybe others didn't take lessons until after you put in your order for a Mosquito? I am curious about your stories and experiences, whatever they are. Thank you!

Hi Chris,
I have always had a passion for flying (particularly helicopters), so when I left school (that was a long time ago), I decided on taking flying lessons in fixed wings. Working long hours to fund it, I got through to my PPL (A) then continued flying around in Tomohawks, 140's, the arrow28r and a couple of Cessna 172s.
At work I met a guy who has become a very good family friend. He was a mechanic but left to do helicopter flight instructing. I kept in touch and would do some work for him in exchange for some hands on ferry flying between Nelson and Rangiora. I clocked up quite a few hours there, but never went solo.
With his experience we got to fly Hughes 300, 500, R22 and we did a ferry flight in a Wessex.
Aeroplane flying continued at the same time. I had been watching for a microlight helicopter for years and had been keeping an eye on the Mosquito for a number of years before I started to get serious about it.
I was fortunate at work to get a few hours hands on in R44's ferrying, so this just added to my passion for helicopters.
Finally I took the step and arranged for some R22 time to get to solo stage in the R22 and I bought my Mosquito. I went solo in the R22 and a week later IXE arrived.
Thank you very much for taking the time to share this. That's a lot of experience right there, quiet intimidating. I noticed how you seemed to have a lot of exposure to different opportunities to fly beyond merely taking lessons, this must certainly have been very valuable since trying to do all this with paid time alone would probably cost a fortune. Do you work in the aviation business? How many years did it take you before you decided to pull the trigger on getting a Mosquito? You could say that's sort of the stage I am at - minus all that experience lol. Btw I checked out your helicopter in your link and I realized that I had seen youtube videos of it (been watching Mosquito youtube vids up and down), I liked the old color scheme but I like the new one even better - beautiful machine!
Thanks for your comments on my Mosquito.
I work in the electricity industry, but was fortunate to have some exposures from my work and friendship connections. We use helicopters for line inspections, line thermovision inspections, fault finding, mountain top radio site work, windsite installations and inspections, so get a few trips in helicopters throughout the year. Its funny, some of my flying in the past has been from working double shifts all week to get 1 hour of helicopter time, but that was what it took to go flying so I just had to do it. Any ferry time I could get was certainly worth gold and to have the chance to fly I grabbed with both hands - literally! (Of course the work I did in exchange for the flying wasn't hour for hour, but either way, you got to do what it takes to get your goals.
I watched Mosquitos for around 6 years before deciding on doing something about it. I had looked at other helicopters but all were not as interesting as the Mosquito. I wasn't aware they were available in NZ for a number of years, so was thrilled when I learnt they could be flown here. The Mosquito is a great helicopter to fly, it is SOOO much fun and responds well.
I started to fly the Tomohawk when I was 18 - now at 50, I have finally got my "long term" goal of owning my own helicopter, so it has been a long road. Its one of those things - if I could have done it earlier it would be great, but life doesn't always allow that. Still, make the most of any time we have.
If you have the opportunity to own a Mosquito - go for it, you will not stop smiling.

You are very lucky to be able to do something you love as part of your job! It seems like from the beginning you very much grasped any opportunity you got to fly and stuck with it thru the years which got you where you are now. I have literally no experience whatsoever, haven't even been a passenger in a helicopter. That's because the possibility of doing something like this recreationally with a personal machine seemed completely out of reach until I found out about the Mosquito and realized that this might actually be doable. Crazy probably, a little out there for sure but doable lol. I have just begun researching local regulations, etc. and I figure I will simply start by wishing for a helicopter tour coupon for Christmas just to get an idea what it's like lol. As I am looking at all the different options I notice just how much praise the Mosquito gets for exactly the points you mention. This plus the fact that it's just an extremely sexy looking machine that is also relatively cheap to run is the reason why I keep getting hung up on it vs. other options. Did you buy it factory finished or as a kit all at once or bit by bit over time? I wonder if it makes sense to acquire the different stages one after the other, spreading it out a bit and then get into flying lessons as the project nears completion? Do you know of anyone here who did it this way? It is nice to dream but it's also daunting! Trying hard not to be too naive about any of it :-).
I had always wanted to fly helicopters ever since I was 8 years old but the decisions I made early in life never allowed me to until I turned 55. And the fact that they were way out of my ability to afford lessons back then. I started out flying fixed wing ultralights after I had just gotten out of the Air Force and after crashing it a few times and having 2 kids, I decided to put flying on the back burner for awhile. Other things were more important to me back then and the next thing I knew, I was 55 and starting to make out my bucket list. Then I found the Mosquito! After years of begging my wife and saving up, I finally made the decision to get a couple hours of dual instruction and that's all it took. I'll never forget those first few hours behind the stick of a helicopter. WOW! I just made the decision to quit procrastinating and buy one. It took about 2 years for me to build it and in the mean time I kept taking lessons in either an R22 or a swietzer 300. Now I'm 61, got 110 hrs on my Mosquito and that stupid grin has never left my face. Smile
Started off flying trikes (weight shift) and then moved on to gyros (first a modified Benson and then a GyroBee). The GyroBee is the flying machine I've had the most fun with.

The easiest way to get into helis in NZ is to get a PPL(H) first, so I did that in a R22. After that I got a type rating for the Air and still love flying it. Built an XE as well but didn't like that and sold it again.

Then came a MTO Sport gyro, and I've taken more than 160 passengers up in it already. Everyone comes back with a big smile on their face.

The latest toy is a R22, which for now is the favourite flying machine. It's comfortable, fast and reliable.

Each machine has its place, the Air is brilliant for flying less than 1 mile, the R22 is brilliant for flying more than 1 mile, and the MTO Sport is brilliant for putting a smile on peoples faces.
I tried to make the most of every opportunity to go flying, the dream was that big. I would suggest to go have some lessons, do a trial flight or at least go see a local club or commercial company and see if they would at least allow you to sit in the seat and get a feel for helicopters (parked in a hangar or anywhere) it will probably confirm what you already want to do and you never know what could come out of a connection with them.
I bought my Mosquito already built. I would guess there are various ways of getting to the same end result of having your own machine so it would depend on how much of the build you would like to do or are required to do.
Either way, needing to take lessons will be a given; so you can be guaranteed to have hands on experience in a helicopter before being let loose in your own machine.

Gary, that's sort of what I am thinking - doing the bulk of the lessons while building. Would probably make sense to time it in such a way that the license is done just before the built is done. Looks to me like you only made the jump until you had other life stuff squared away, not a bad thing to do. I am in my thirties and there are definitely a few things I need to at least weigh first.

Oskar, you are in the enviable position to have a helicopter for any occasion lol. What did you not like bout the XE? Would be great to get your angle on this!

Good points Peter, first step for me will definitely be a simple tour. I live in the L.A. area so it shouldn't be too difficult to get something set up, there is a number of companies offering tours for tourists. Some of them offer lessons as well. Couple things that worry me about building myself: 1. being overwhelmed by the sheer size of the task and 2. making a mistake during construction that remains undiscovered and things going very wrong. What I like about building myself: 1. afterwards I will know the machine inside out, at least on a mechanical level and 2. I'll finally get to use all those tools I have in my workshop, ha!
My thoughts would be to take some Heli lessons to see that the appeal will stick and not turn you off in some way.

I feel like a kit or factory built is the only safe way to fly a Mosquito. I thought about buying a built one by another kit builder but then
considered that you would have no way of knowing whether it was done right and in fact may be sold due to some issues.

Building yourself makes a lot of sense since you are going to be the one maintaining it, and every heli needs to be well maintained
as the margin for error is very small with your life hanging in the balance.

I already have a fixed wing Private Pilot License so I know where one can fly and where you should not so at least its not a totally new experience.

I don't think the motor skills translate 100% but learning something new is FUN.

Currently I am struggling trying to find heli instruction in my area at a good affordable price.

Any ideas on your side of the mountains CT?

I thought there was instruction at French valley airport but I cant seem to find it.


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