Monday, April 27, 2015

It creeps up on you

I am the world's worst helicopter student: my full-time job and my other flying obligations have me flying helicopters once a week or so.  This was just like my glider transition, only with the gliders I had a 3 hour drive each way so flew even less than once a month until I decided to knuckle down and go to a big commercial operation and finish the darned thing.

But the helicopter school is on the field, and the helicopter itself is in our hangar, so I have spent a lot of time sitting in the thing working on my scan and procedures.

And like all bad students, I fly better when the conditions are more difficult, like a beach landing with a maximum performance takeoff.  Try that in an airplane!
But when I come back to the airport my patterns suck.  Worse, I don't think they suck, which means that I am not perceiving something.  You've seen your students do this...now so can you!

Then one day last week I was returning from a photo flight in an airplane and decided for once to pay attention to my approach, since I was flying rather than a student.  You know what?  It sucked!

And now I realize that after a few years of flying focused on Something Else (and maybe a few friendly BFRs from CFI buddies who know that I can fly) I have gotten sloppy.  Sloppiness creeps up on you, through some mixture of complacency and ego.  I fly great!  Why should I pay attention to my approach angle!  

Yeah, right.

The sloppiness wasn't visible until I pushed myself into the helicopter, where someone paid attention and critiqued me.

So here's the plan: I'm going to take my helicopter CFI flying in an airplane while I work on flying a constant approach angle.  The airplane costs 1/4 of what the helicopter does and we're working on an eye problem, not a hand problem, so this seems like a practical approach.

I'll fill you in on the results.

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