Flight. Most have us have experienced it in some fashion. Either on a jet liner, some of you perhaps in a smaller aircraft. I'm lucky I get to fly often in a news helicopter. But unless you are a pilot, we are just passengers on the craft be it helicopter or jet liner. Last week I had the good fortune and the privilege to take hold of the controls during a flight in a jet ranger.
Every so often, dual controls are put into the machines, usually for training or as in the case last week, testing of a potential new pilot that will be joining the Talon team. In the past, one of the staff pilots would ask one of the CTV crew if they would like to give the flight controls a try. Kink and Pete C have given it a go. You couldn't wipe the smiles off their faces for days.
Last Thursday, Peter M comes into our office in the hanger and says "Murman, want to go flyin'?"
He had to check out some sort of RPM thing in an autorotation. "After the test, will see if you can fly this machine" he said with a smile.
The fight engineer Mike was all smiles and added "It's not like the flight sim, have fun buddy" and he left with that evil laugh of his.
I was a bit worried as just before we were talking about "dynamic roll over" and a number of other helicopter calamities. I am sure this was all part of their evil plan, spook the hell out of me.
Taking the controls is something I have always wanted to try , yet I had been told that a Helicopter is just a "bunch of parts flying is close formation", perhaps this was something best left to the skilled.
Before I knew it we were walking out to the machine, all I could think of was, God I hope I don't embarrass myself.
I climbed into the front left seat maneuvering my legs around the cyclic. I have been in the front before, but now there were peddles and a cyclic and a collective. What the hell do these things do again? Oh my god we are going to die.
Peter explained to me the voice protocol when handing over "control" of the aircraft. "I will say: You have control. And you will respond: I have control"
Ok I replied.
Peter fired up the engine called the tower. Before long we were on our way to an area nearby so he could do his autorotational checks.
"OK Murman, put your hand on the cyclic and your feet in the peddles. Don't put any presser on any of the controls yet"
He showed me a couple of things like turning and flying straight and level. "Are you ready?"
"OK you have control"
"I have control"
And with that I was flying the helicopter. It was a neat sensation, kinda like the first time my Dad had let me drive the old 75 Toyota on the road. "You're flying the helicopter" he said I glanced over his hands were not on the flight controls. I am sure I had a smile on that would have lit up the sky. "OK Mur, try turning to the left."
I moved the cyclic slightly to the left, and the machine began to turn. "A little more, a little more".
The thing I found was just how little you had to move the flight controls to make the machine respond. After a few minutes, Peter once again had control of the aircraft. "We'll take her down so you can try a hover"
Hovering was interesting. Let me rephase that, trying to hover was interesting. 'Good Mur, just watch your horizon and just slightly pull the cyclic back, good, good,,,"
My hover was shall we say, not exactly stationary. But Peter told me that I was not "propoising" fluxuating altitude, like a porpoise. After a few minutes we returned to 1000 feet and did a few more turns. My confidence grew with each minute. OK Murman take me back to the airport. And with that I turned the helicopter and began the flight back into YVR. "You're a natural!" You haven't scared me yet!"
He let me fly all the way back to the Shell hanger when he took over and landed the machine.
I can't thank him enough. I haven't wiped the smile off my face yet and it has been just over a week. Damn that was fun, If I had done that 25 years ago, perhaps I may have chosen a different career.
I believe it was a .7 of an hour, but it was the best damn .7 I have ever flown.