Posts about colibri

First helicopter check ride

I’ve wanted to write this entry since a few days ago but somehow, time isn’t on my side. Anyway, I had my first check ride on the helicopter last week and this marks the end of the first module and beginning of another challenging one.

The ride was relatively manageable until I departed from circuit to the training area for area manoeuvres. The first set up for my manoeuvre was smooth but unfortunately, the tester requested for one more. At this point in time, apparently there were some radio transmissions of another aircraft joining the area. Unfortunately, I was too fixated on achieving the proper parameters for my manoeuvre that I missed out the entire transmission. This was coupled with the controller relaying the wrong information to the aircraft that was about to join the area. Just as I was about to commence my manoeuvre, the tester pointed out a head on traffic. I attempted to search for the traffic but could not sight it as the visibility was rather bad. It was only after the second prompt then did I spot the traffic and initiated a break turn to avoid a collision!

Anyway, guess I’m considered lucky to have passed the check ride though the airmanship portion cost my grades! Still, it was a great lesson learnt and hopefully, I do not commit the same mistakes again

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Free sightseeing trip

Had the opportunity to ride on the back seat of the helicopter and played the role as a lookout man for my colleague’s instrument flight this morning. This is the first time (and expecting many more) in which I am “flying” as a non-flying pilot with no worries and enjoying the scenery! For the non-aviators, an instrument flight refers to flying the aircraft purely by relying on the aircraft instruments. This is the only means of navigating around safely when visibility or weather does not permit visual flying.

During the 2 hour flight as the observer, apart from assisting the crew in looking out for other traffic within the vicinity, I’ve made a couple of interesting observations which I thought one would never realise it when you’re actually flying. In a multi crew environment, there is plenty of emphasis in inter cockpit crew resource management (CRM). For instance, during an instrument approach, the cockpit was overwhelmed with activities such as setting up the instruments for the approach, obtaining the necessary clearances from the relevant ATC agencies, referring to the approach charts. On top of these, the pilots have to fly the aircraft and achieve the parameters as accurately as possible since this aircraft does not have the luxury of autopilot!

The only complain I have is the long ride and backaches. Unlike commercial aircraft that allows passengers to walk down the aisle, I have to remain seated throughout the flight. Otherwise, the ride was definitely an eye opening experience as I get to see almost the whole of Singapore, including some of its prominent landmarks such as the Singapore flyer and the central business districts.

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My first helicopter ride

After numerous sessions of practising checks and procedures in the simulator, I finally had my first helicopter ride this week! Can’t describe how great it feels being able to get airborne again since returning from Pearce and honestly, nothing beats the adrenaline rush one gets from flying though the speed is only a quarter compared to what I previously flown.

Just in case you aren’t aware, flying an aeroplane and a helicopter is totally different in terms of aerodynamics, flight controls and missions. Gone are terminology such as throttle, rudder and stick. Instead, we call it collective, pedals and cyclic respectively. One thing I definitely miss and took for granted is the big airspace we had back in Australia! Comparing the airspace back in Pearce, a section of the training area is already the size of Singapore! Imagine how much time is spent trying to stay within area boundary and keeping a lookout for other aircraft!

Not forgetting that they are so many other aviators all operating within the same confined space as well as the numerous airspace and exams restrictions imposed. I guess trying to fly within the little space available above this island will prove to be a big challenge!

Apart from flying, I’ve been busy with ground work as usual and it only gets more! Looking at the rate I’m progressing, I’m optimistic and I hope that I’ll be able to handle helicopter flying and make the best out of it though I’m still trying very hard to hover the aircraft right now! On a brighter note, my instructor mentioned this famous quote in the spirit of keeping us motivated.

To fly is heavenly, but to hover is divine.

I can’t comment how true it is but I’ll definitely share my thoughts once I’m able to hover perfectly.

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In a loop

Ground school is over and whatever rotor dynamics or aircraft systems knowledge that I’m expected to know have been delivered within the short period of time. Right now, I feel like I’m back to the days when I first arrived in Pearce for flying training where I’m kept occupied with procedures, orders and aircraft checks to read and commit to memory. Honestly, I’m still trying to adapt and accept the fact that I’ll be exposed to this endless loop of change in environment and hitting the books just when I feel settled.

Perhaps I should feel glad that the dynamic change I have been experiencing enables me to exercise flexibility and not always staying numb within my comfort zone. Still, I must admit that it is quite a painful process to be going through within every few months! Fortunately, the people around me are friendly and the new environment seems less hostile though expectations remain unchanged.

I hope that all will go well for me and my course mates in the next 7 months of helicopter flying training. Having come so far, this will be the final lap before we earn the prestigious wings on our chest.

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