Flight Training - November 2014 - 33

4. HELICOPTERS FALL OUT OF THE SKY
WHEN THE ENGINE QUITS: It's a common

misconception that a helicopter without a
working engine is the world's most expensive brick. In reality, there's an emergency
landing procedure for helicopters, just as
there is for airplanes. The difference is
that while the pilot of an airplane need do
little more than find an appropriate field
and fly toward it when the engine quits,
a helicopter pilot must act quickly if the
machine is going to keep flying.
Called an autorotation (the blades
rotate by themselves without power),
the helicopter emergency landing has
many benefits over those performed in
airplanes. Primary among them is the ability to put the machine down in an open
area the size of a big backyard. And if the
engine quits and the best landing site is
straight down, the helicopter can go any
direction the pilot chooses to set up for
it-including backwards.
The energy at the point of touchdown
also is considerably less in a helicopter. A
single-engine airplane will be moving forward anywhere between 30 and 60 knots,
whereas if the helicopter pilot does things
well, he or she can touch down with less
than 10 knots of forward speed.

5. HELICOPTERS ARE IMPRACTICAL: If

your aviation need is to fly from New York
to Los Angeles once a week, it is true that
a helicopter isn't the best tool for the job.
But here's a little secret-neither are most
GA airplanes. Consider the sometimes
false assumption that airplanes are great
for travel. A salesman will gladly explain
to you why a Cessna 172 is the perfect
aircraft to get you from Buffalo to Boston,
but that's only true in July. Otherwise, the
airlines will get you there cheaper and
more reliably, albeit with considerably
less joy. Let's say you do fly yourself. The
Robinson R44 will make the trip in the
same amount of time as the Cessna, can
carry about the same amount of stuff, and
will get you where you're going sooner.
Helicopters can land closer to the destination, if not right at it. They also don't have
to spend time taxiing or waiting for the
use of the runway.
For many pilots, fun is the primary mis-

sion. And here, helicopters excel. The view
is often better, the speeds are more leisurely, and you can loiter over an area. It's
like the difference between a convertible
and a motorcycle. Both get you in the open
air, but only one makes your heart race.
6. HELICOPTERS ARE FRAGILE/SMALL
TOYS: Just like airplanes, helicopters

range from small, single-seat Experimentals to multiengine, turbine-powered
beasts. Some of this myth no doubt comes
from the fact that training helicopters
are relatively small. The Robinson R22 is
by far the most common, and it's also the
lightest, weighing less than a thousand
pounds empty.
The reality is that they are extremely
maneuverable and easily controllable
under a large variety of conditions.
Helicopters even take turbulence better
than airplanes, in most cases, so a student
who is uneasy about the bumps may enjoy
helicopters more.
Where maintenance is concerned, the
tolerances are tighter in helicopters, and
there is definitely more to go wrong than
in an airplane. But they can take a huge
amount of punishment, just like Cessnas
in the training environment.

7. THEY ARE HARD TO FLY: This is partly

true. Many fixed-wing pilots who have

transitioned to helicopters say hovering is
the hardest thing they've ever done in an
aircraft. Everything comes with a price,
and the price of such amazing maneuverability and flexibility in a helicopter is
some initial challenges for the pilot who
is learning how to fly them. But once the
basics are mastered, it's no different than
flying an airplane. In many ways it's easier.
Consider landing. An airplane is going
to land when it feels like it. The wings
will stop producing lift and the wheels
will touch. If the pilot has set up correctly,
those wheels are only a few inches above
the concrete when that time comes. But if
he hasn't-well, you know how that goes.
In a helicopter the pilot controls everything. He dictates exactly when it's time to
set down. If things are feelings rushed, or a
gust of wind comes, he simply waits it out
two feet above the ground. If, as he's coming down, things get squirrely, he simply
stops and gets his bearings again. It's all
under the pilot's control, as is the speed on
the approach, the exact spot of touchdown,
the exact moment of liftoff, the approach
and descent profiles, and so on.
8. HELICOPTER PILOTS ARE WEIRD: That's

just jealousy talking.

Flight Training Editor Ian Twombly recently added a
helicopter rating to his pilot certificate.
NOVEMBER 2014 FLIGHT TRAINING

/ 33



Flight Training - November 2014

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Flight Training - November 2014

Contents
Flight Training - November 2014 - Cover1
Flight Training - November 2014 - Cover2
Flight Training - November 2014 - Contents
Flight Training - November 2014 - 2
Flight Training - November 2014 - 3
Flight Training - November 2014 - 4
Flight Training - November 2014 - 5
Flight Training - November 2014 - 6
Flight Training - November 2014 - 7
Flight Training - November 2014 - 8
Flight Training - November 2014 - 9
Flight Training - November 2014 - 10
Flight Training - November 2014 - 11
Flight Training - November 2014 - 12
Flight Training - November 2014 - 13
Flight Training - November 2014 - 14
Flight Training - November 2014 - 15
Flight Training - November 2014 - 16
Flight Training - November 2014 - 17
Flight Training - November 2014 - 18
Flight Training - November 2014 - 19
Flight Training - November 2014 - 20
Flight Training - November 2014 - 21
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