So a few days ago, I had a heckuva time getting the helicopter on the ground. As you get close to Earth a little cushion of air from being in ground effect (basically air stacking up underneath you cuz it can't escape due to surface friction, not a good enough answer for the checkride but you get the idea) keeps the helicopter afloat. Helicopters are designed to land (or crash for that matter) facing forward. The skids can slide a good distance and everything will be fine. Go backwards and you risk hitting the tail rotor. Sideways and you might have a dynamic rollover. While dynamic is great in a personality, it sucks in a rollover. What was the name of that not-really-a-memoir memior Oprah (ever notice how she's on the cover of her magazine every goddamn month? Oops, where was I?) endorsed, "A million little pieces." Anyway I'd be sinking down all nice and purty, hit that little cushion and yaw back and forth. Just couldn't seem to get through it.
I hover-taxied back to park and Corbin said, "You just have some kind of block, here you are taxiing in a straight line with a quartering tailwind, which is much harder, and you're doing great. You just need to quit thinking about it." Easier said than done for yours truly. Actually, what if I obsess about it instead? Would that be alright? I bet I'll dream about it tonight, extra credit? "It's ok. Don't worry about it, your approaches were really good today. The set-downs will come."
I shared my experience with Pablo. Former Columbian, fellow Alaskan, ten or so more flight hours than me. He said he had the same problem, he just exhaled through that cushion, pushing the collective down as the air left his lungs. So I gave that a go. It worked. My set-downs and pick-ups were smooth, some forward movement on a few but that ain't no nevermind, it's safe. Guess what? The approaches went to shit. Missed every one. Some short, some long, all bad. I long for the day when at the end of a flight, the instructor says, "So what went well today?" and I have more than one thing to say.
We have gotten to the point, Corbin and I, where he's pulling circuit breakers or pushing in the carb heat to see if I'm paying attention. On paper, I'm halfway to soloing. You need twenty hours and an endorsement from your instructor to legally solo. If you mess up on a solo, it's your instructor's ass cuz he gave you the go ahead. Ask Skorecki to tell you a funny story. A kid from India, name of Puunja, soloed for the first time on Monday. Pretty funny, he did a coupla patterns around the airport while his instructor chain-smoked. Not exactly paternal pride, but something akin to it was on display. Also pretty funny that you have to solo to get your private license. You don't solo before you get your driver's license. Well actually you might, but if you get caught...I don't know, I didn't get caught. To legally fly, not only do you have to solo, some of that time must be at night. It's a mixed up, muddled up, shook up world except for Lola.
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