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Daz

Darren's Flight Training Part Ii - The 'real World'

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Hey y'all...

 

Long time no post - I thought I'd start a new thread to chronicle my continued learning in the world of a low-time commercial pilot. Hopefully this will provide some insight for other newbies and folks considering this career. For all of you old salts, this might stir up some old memories - your experiences, anecdotes and - as always - advice and input are appreciated.

 

I'm happy to say I've found work! Over the summer, me and two other pilots from my class will be working for our school (Mountain View Helicopters) flying sightseeing tours over the Horseshoe Canyon near Drumheller. Training and PPC should be next week, then we start getting everything ready for the summer operation. Should be heaps of fun!!

 

Something notable (and encouraging): Out of my class of ten, ALL of us (except the one PPL-H fellow) have found work - most of us flying! One's at Gemini, two are doing ground work (and one's getting ready to delve into AME studies), and the rest of us are employed by Mountain View Helicopters. Two guys will be travelling to various fairs and towns for "barnstorming", three of us are out at Drumheller, and one is now flying the traffic helicopter over Winnipeg. I can't say enough good things about Paul and the MVHeli crew for helping us all get our start - especially with the industry so quiet!

 

A little background first (this might be beneficial for other low-timers out there):

 

My job interview and checkride with Paul B. was back on April 15. I hadn't flown for three months, and it showed!! I was a little nervous, so I regressed into über-careful student mode; slow, deliberate, double-checking my checklists. In fact, I got so wrapped up in checklists and radio calls that I let the machine get ahead of me. Nothing dangerous, just sloppy flying. And I was told exactly that. My advice to other new-timers - if it's been a while, go and do an hour or so of recurrent training BEFORE your checkride!! It's good to be safe, but an operational pilot needs to be safe AND efficient. I wasn't.

 

Anyways, the interview was done by 10:00, so Paul mentioned that I was welcome to hang around. So I did; I found little jobs to do, helped out around the hangar here and there, and just generally tried to walk the fine line between absorbing information, helping out and not getting in the way. It paid off, 'cause at the end of the day, Paul and Ihad a quick chat:

 

P: "So... are you in town tomorrow?"

Me: "I can be; I have no plans and my winter job finished last week"

P: "Stick around - Ill see if I can get you up in the news helicopter for a couple hours of dual time"

Me: :punk: :up: :blur: B)

 

So the next day, I got three hours of flight time in the Global News R44!. The day after, I showed up at the hangar at ten to eight and spent the day "working". This also paid off - at the end of the day, Paul said "hey... why dont'cha stick around next week - you can go out with the news helicopter every day"

 

:up: :punk:

 

So, I did. In return for all the flight time, I was there at eight every morning helping out where I could. My job interview went from a sloppy 0.8hr checkride to around 15 hours of flight time! I busted my hump to become more efficient and operational, I learned a bunch, and I can't thank Kelda, Ashleigh and Phil enough for grilling me and pushing me to fly better. They could've just sat back done their jobs as traffic pilots, but instead they all had me practice lots of stuff (i.e. landing on the little trailer again and again and again - too much fun!).

 

This paid off again - at the end of the week Paul said "Hey, wanna go an a trip?"

Me: "Sure, where we going?"

Paul: "Toronto. We take a helicopter to Winnipeg, then another one from Winnipeg to here"

Me: B) :blur: :up: :punk:

 

This is getting long, so I'll save that trip for the next post.

 

The moral of the story: Smile, have a keen attitude, bust yer hump, and be around at the right time, and good things can happen!

 

... Darren

 

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congrat's, darren!!!

 

being in strathmore myself, i'm about 30 mins from drum... will be out to see you and paul there!!!

 

you'll do fine flying tours and it's a great way to build time.. worked for niagara for how long!!!

 

:up:

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right on Darren Congrats! good'ol drumbheller, bin around that race track a few times. You are going to have a great summer! Yup Paul B sure puts the effort into getting you going!

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Thanks, all! :)

 

Toronto - Winnipeg - Calgary ferry flight!

 

Hopped on an Air Canada flight and left a snowy, cold Calgary for a 28ºC Toronto... but alas, it was not to last.

We awoke early in our hotel near Buttonville to low ceilings, rain and, well, IMC. Back to bed for a quick nap, then up in an hour to check the METAR/TAF. Still crappy, but at least VFR, and forecast to lift and clear as we made our way north towards Parry Sound. I DI'ed, started up and we were off in the rain. Except the ceiling didn't lift - it got lower and lower and lower. This was the worst weather I've flown in (granted, I'm a newbie and all). Dipping under tendrils of low cloud + flying around really bad spots + avoiding farms below + trying to stay on track = high workload for a rookie pilot. Then the weather got really nasty, so it was decision time. Paul took over here, and landed us in a clearing where we waited it out. Luckily it only took an hour or so, and the clouds started to lift.

 

Sure enough, as we flew north and rounded the bend to follow Lake Huron shores, the clouds lifted, then vanished. We got beat up by the wind a bit, but we still made good ground speed and the scenery was spectacular.

 

In school, our approaches to airports were pretty standard student approaches; nice steady rate of descent, nice even glide path, lined up with the runway (or taxi-way, or heli-pad).On this trip, I got my eyes opened to the world of 'operational' helicopter flying in remote places!

 

To wit: Our first fuel stop at Elliot lake, ON. See the runway, no-one else here, so line up nicely for a straight -in approach aiming for the taxi-way breaking off from he right side.

 

P: "Which way is the wind coming?"

Me: Kind of off our front right quarter"

P: So, why line up with the runway? Why not land into wind?"

Me: "Oh... yeah! Why not indeed?

 

and...

 

P: "Where y' goin'? See the fuel tanks over there? We don't need to hover-taxi all over the place. Just go land there. You're in a helicopter!"

 

Lesson learned! Another one that became evident on this trip was how one gets almost lulled into the routine of cross-country flying - setting up approaches and landings after flying straight-and-level for two hours comes almost as a rude awakening. Between this, and trying to find my way around new and unfamiliar airstrips, and trying to shoot efficient, operational approaches (often to the wrong sight picture :wacko:) all meant that I was getting a bit tense on the controls. Not to mention flying with the boss in the left seat... :D

 

Anyways, on Day 1, after 8.7 on the Hobbes, we made it to St. Andrews in Winnipeg in the evening. We had a couple days in Winnipeg, but that's another story for another forum. Let's just say I fell in love with that town :punk: :up:

 

So...Friday morning, different machine, and off we go. It's a Raven 1, which means don't forget the dang carb heat :blink: .

 

We lift off and start beating our way westwards into headwinds. It was tricky planning fuel stops here; airports with fuel seemed to be just out of reach for a perfect leg, so this necessitated some shorter legs. The headwinds also resulted in an extra leg or two. Our first stop was Moosomin, SK. This was also an eye-opener for me, as it was literally a farmyard with a gravel strip. Again, I was reminded that we were in a helicopter - no need to shoot an approach to a gravel strip when one can approach the grass beside it - keeps the nasty gravel and dust away from the tail rotor.

 

As it was a farmyard, we were momentarily at a loss in finding the pumps (the CFS said it had fuel...). Paul took over and taxiied us into the yard, where we found the tank nestled in between a shed and a tractor. B) The owners came out, fuelled us up and chatted for a bit. No credit card machine, we didn't have cash, but no worries. The fellow handed Paul a sticky-note with the amount written down and an address and said "just mail us a cheque when you get home". Very, very cool to see this sort of thing in this day and age.

 

We continued creeping west. Paul gave me a lesson in steep approaches as we came into Regina, which was helped by the 30 knot winds.

 

We landed in Medicine Hat just before the fuel depot closed, topped up, and noted that the winds had finally started to die. Last leg should be an easy couple hours home - nice! I do all my pre-start checks, turn the key and... nothing. Just a faint "squeeeee".

 

Well, snap.

 

Luckily for us, there were two AMEs there - whom we were lucky to catch just before they left for the weekend - and between them and us and a few phone calls to our own AME in Calgary, we were able to find and repair a busted limit switch in the clutch/belt tensioning system (basically, the starter circuit becomes disabled if the limit switches aren't delivering the correct signals).

 

We pushed out, fired up and - save for a quick landing to properly latch a door - were off to Springbank.

 

 

One of the many things I learned about myself was how fatigue affects my flying. It had been a long week (not helped by my extra-curricular activities in Winnipeg), and I was feeling it. Dumb things - like selecting radio frequencies, then making a call before I flipped over (x 3, if i recall). Inefficient things, like setting up an approach to the wrong spot ("Where are you going? Fuel tanks are way over there!!), and potentially nasty things, like forgetting carb heat. When I'm tired, I need to make a point of being extra diligent, and check things twice, if need be.

 

But in the end, it was an epic week - in many ways. I needed a couple day's rest to catch up, but I netted around 17 hours of dual cross-country time, and I learned sooo much. That, and I got to see a large chunk of Canada from 500 feet up :punk: :up:

 

- Darren

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Thanks, all! :)

 

Toronto - Winnipeg - Calgary ferry flight!

 

Hopped on an Air Canada flight and left a snowy, cold Calgary for a 28ºC Toronto... but alas, it was not to last.

We awoke early in our hotel near Buttonville to low ceilings, rain and, well, IMC. Back to bed for a quick nap, then up in an hour to check the METAR/TAF. Still crappy, but at least VFR, and forecast to lift and clear as we made our way north towards Parry Sound. I DI'ed, started up and we were off in the rain. Except the ceiling didn't lift - it got lower and lower and lower. This was the worst weather I've flown in (granted, I'm a newbie and all). Dipping under tendrils of low cloud + flying around really bad spots + avoiding farms below + trying to stay on track = high workload for a rookie pilot. Then the weather got really nasty, so it was decision time. Paul took over here, and landed us in a clearing where we waited it out. Luckily it only took an hour or so, and the clouds started to lift.

 

Sure enough, as we flew north and rounded the bend to follow Lake Huron shores, the clouds lifted, then vanished. We got beat up by the wind a bit, but we still made good ground speed and the scenery was spectacular.

 

In school, our approaches to airports were pretty standard student approaches; nice steady rate of descent, nice even glide path, lined up with the runway (or taxi-way, or heli-pad).On this trip, I got my eyes opened to the world of 'operational' helicopter flying in remote places!

 

To wit: Our first fuel stop at Elliot lake, ON. See the runway, no-one else here, so line up nicely for a straight -in approach aiming for the taxi-way breaking off from he right side.

 

P: "Which way is the wind coming?"

Me: Kind of off our front right quarter"

P: So, why line up with the runway? Why not land into wind?"

Me: "Oh... yeah! Why not indeed?

 

and...

 

P: "Where y' goin'? See the fuel tanks over there? We don't need to hover-taxi all over the place. Just go land there. You're in a helicopter!"

 

Lesson learned! Another one that became evident on this trip was how one gets almost lulled into the routine of cross-country flying - setting up approaches and landings after flying straight-and-level for two hours comes almost as a rude awakening. Between this, and trying to find my way around new and unfamiliar airstrips, and trying to shoot efficient, operational approaches (often to the wrong sight picture :wacko:) all meant that I was getting a bit tense on the controls. Not to mention flying with the boss in the left seat... :D

 

Anyways, on Day 1, after 8.7 on the Hobbes, we made it to St. Andrews in Winnipeg in the evening. We had a couple days in Winnipeg, but that's another story for another forum. Let's just say I fell in love with that town :punk: :up:

 

So...Friday morning, different machine, and off we go. It's a Raven 1, which means don't forget the dang carb heat :blink: .

 

We lift off and start beating our way westwards into headwinds. It was tricky planning fuel stops here; airports with fuel seemed to be just out of reach for a perfect leg, so this necessitated some shorter legs. The headwinds also resulted in an extra leg or two. Our first stop was Moosomin, SK. This was also an eye-opener for me, as it was literally a farmyard with a gravel strip. Again, I was reminded that we were in a helicopter - no need to shoot an approach to a gravel strip when one can approach the grass beside it - keeps the nasty gravel and dust away from the tail rotor.

 

As it was a farmyard, we were momentarily at a loss in finding the pumps (the CFS said it had fuel...). Paul took over and taxiied us into the yard, where we found the tank nestled in between a shed and a tractor. B) The owners came out, fuelled us up and chatted for a bit. No credit card machine, we didn't have cash, but no worries. The fellow handed Paul a sticky-note with the amount written down and an address and said "just mail us a cheque when you get home". Very, very cool to see this sort of thing in this day and age.

 

We continued creeping west. Paul gave me a lesson in steep approaches as we came into Regina, which was helped by the 30 knot winds.

 

We landed in Medicine Hat just before the fuel depot closed, topped up, and noted that the winds had finally started to die. Last leg should be an easy couple hours home - nice! I do all my pre-start checks, turn the key and... nothing. Just a faint "squeeeee".

 

Well, snap.

 

Luckily for us, there were two AMEs there - whom we were lucky to catch just before they left for the weekend - and between them and us and a few phone calls to our own AME in Calgary, we were able to find and repair a busted limit switch in the clutch/belt tensioning system (basically, the starter circuit becomes disabled if the limit switches aren't delivering the correct signals).

 

We pushed out, fired up and - save for a quick landing to properly latch a door - were off to Springbank.

 

 

One of the many things I learned about myself was how fatigue affects my flying. It had been a long week (not helped by my extra-curricular activities in Winnipeg), and I was feeling it. Dumb things - like selecting radio frequencies, then making a call before I flipped over (x 3, if i recall). Inefficient things, like setting up an approach to the wrong spot ("Where are you going? Fuel tanks are way over there!!), and potentially nasty things, like forgetting carb heat. When I'm tired, I need to make a point of being extra diligent, and check things twice, if need be.

 

But in the end, it was an epic week - in many ways. I needed a couple day's rest to catch up, but I netted around 17 hours of dual cross-country time, and I learned sooo much. That, and I got to see a large chunk of Canada from 500 feet up :punk: :up:

You da man,Darren!

- Darren

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Sounds like you had an awsome trip!

 

Glad you enjoyed Winterpeg, I am more than happy to be back in the southwestern part of Ontario now, but in the summer Winnipeg was nice (Except I did not get to see much of it, as I was usually in northern Manitoba...)

 

Had a crosscountry similar to that one a couple of months ago, but mine went from LA to Blenheim, Ontario. Fun thing to do tho!

 

Cheers

W.

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