Thursday, June 21, 2012

Finally Summertime

I didn't know if I could, but I survived winter. The days grew and I hit the gym to prep for bikini season. Now it's here! Grab the big NASCAR towel, umbrella, and hit the beach! Temps are hitting the mid-nineties and papayas are down to ten for a buck. The chickens are raising their second clutches since Easter to help the mongooses(mongeese?) fatten up for the long winter ahead. Some billionaire just purchased the island of Lanai from some other billionaire. Why, I have no idea, that island sucks. The only one in the chain that is less appealing is Nihau, which had all its vegetation permanently destroyed by US government weapons testing.

I've been prepping for my CFI check ride by learning how to land without the aid of an engine. We practice autorotations several times each flight, but bring the engine back into the equation just above the ground to avoid the high-risk, low-reward of ground contact.

But it's a requirement for the CFI gig. Many people did full-downs on a regular basis as part of training from private up. But over the years, helicopter owners tired of replacing skid shoes, skids that bent too far on hard landings, and helicopters smashed all to hell on harder landings. So now you get to do a few full-downs right before the test and that's it.

The normal autorotation involves a decision at 200' above the ground (AGL, review your acronyms lately?) If everything's groovy, you continue the maneuver and terminate it in a hover just prior to touchdown. If not, you roll the throttle back on and go around. So the full-down involves the same 200' decision followed by one that happens about forty feet AGL. If you like what you see (the ground rushing up at you at a speed acceptable to the reptilian brain) you make the decision to slide along the asphalt, otherwise you roll the throttle back on and come to a hover.

The other day, one of the instructors came onto the deck and told me I should get ready to do some full-downs cuz the wind was perfect (10-12 knots. Less and you slide an uncomfortable distance along the asphalt wondering if you're going to get to add dynamic rollover to your list of accomplishments, more and you run the risk of bending the skids with a hard landing) and Noah wanted me to hot load as soon as he was done doing full-downs with Christoph. It's quite a feeling to take off, make two turns, and autorotate all the way to the ground for your warm-up lap.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Controllers are people too

On Saturday one of my friends invited me to watch the Stanley Cup Finals and get some chicken wings. I accepted, not cuz I give two hoots about professional hockey (I quit caring about pro sports when I realized that the number one draft pick was younger than me) but cuz a coupla beers and a game is a pleasant way to pass an afternoon. I found a reason to root for the Devils; most Los Angelenos are unaware that they have a hockey team so Jersey should have way better riots if they win, or lose for that matter.

Anywho, I met the gang at Ocean's. As soon as I sat down, the bartendress set a round of shots in front of us. I asked her what it was and she said, "A roofi-rita, from those guys." Now roofi and rita are words one expects to hear at a bar full of frat boys on spring break. I guess this place is perpetual spring break. I looked over to see who to thank for the shot, I saw two grizzled old men and a young kid. I recognized them but couldn't place the faces.

"That's Tower," one of the others informed me. "Hey which one of you was flying 74805 yesterday?" Denials all around. "Why do you ask?" "That woman with the Spanish accent sounds delicious." "It's Brazilian, and she isn't." "Aww man, don't tell us that. Lie to us. All we gots to do all day is fantasize about the voices on the radio and you go and ruin it."