This is the post from my first lesson in 2008.  When I started training I could not find anything  on the web documenting other’s helicopter flight training.  I tracked the training experience and the cost in detail and will repost these blog entries.  I’ve updated pricing and made a few changes to reflect the current training environment. I hope these training posts help some others turn a dream into reality.  Happy Flying!
My First Lesson

Preflight

I met my instructor about 11am. We went through the preflight checklist. The preflight took about 20 minutes and it was cold. Very cool to walk around the machine and learn what all those moving parts do.

After warming up the machine and checking the weather on ATIS, we entered a hover behind the landing dolly and radioed the tower for takeoff clearance. We were cleared, took off into the departure pattern, and headed for the off airport practice area 10 minutes away. My instructor had me place my hands on the controls so that I could feel his movements during the hover and departure.

In The Air

Once we left the pattern, my instructor gave me the controls and I practiced keeping the helicopter straight and level during the trip over to the practice area. The trip took us over some beautiful wooded hills. We saw several deer on the way over.

When we arrived at the practice area, my instructor took the controls again with me lightly holding mine so I could feel his movements. He laid out the pattern in the practice area and entered the downwind leg of the approach, taking us in for a landing on the practice area. There was lots of snow at the practice field, so it was pretty cool to see the powdery snow swirl up around us from the rotor wash.

Hover Practice

I read somewhere that hovering in a helicopter is like trying to balance a greasy ping pong ball on top of a needle. After 15 minutes of hover practice today, I get it. My instructor handled the collective and the anti-torque pedals. I was only responsible for the cyclic. I managed to keep the helicopter in Spokane County. Not bad for my first lesson.

After hover practice, we headed back to the airport playing “follow the river”. My instructor gave me a target altitude and told me to maintain it while following all the curves of the river. It’s fun, but harder than it sounds. Whenever you turn with the cyclic, you have to pull up on the collective or you’ll descend. Then when you level out, you have to lower collective again or you’ll start to climb. I kept my altitude plus or minus about 500 feet. For my first lesson, I’ll take it.

The Dismount

As we approached the airport, my instructor checked ATIS again and then radioed for landing clearance. We came in to a hover above the runway numbers, called the tower again and then hover taxied over to the landing pads. I then watched as my instructor landed the helicopter on the tow dolly you see in the picture with Jedi like precision. Someday young padawan, someday :-).

Total Hours To Date: 2.4
Total Training Cost To Date: $900.00
Total Books, Supplies, and Tuition To Date: $2109.48

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