helicopter controls May 17, 2017
Hey, it's Kenny with Helicopter Online Ground School. A Helicopter Online Ground School members sent in the question, "As a fixed wing pilot on my discovery flight, I chased the nose attitude with the collective. Took me a day to analyze that mistake. I was wondering if you have a section on cockpit management while in the air? How do I flip a chart, or turn on my light, or check a circuit breaker with both hands on the controls? Greg."
Now, this is a really good question; because in a fixed-wing environment, of course, a person is flying the airplane, you can trim the airplane out. Their hands are free to flip charts and do what they have to do. In the helicopter environment, not many helicopters can you just take your hands off the controls. We'll use the Robinson R-22, for example, you always have to have your hands on the controls; unless you have to change a frequency, flip a chart, something along that lines. The Enstrom is a little more stable, where you can trim it out; but you still want to always be pretty much guarding the controls.
We have a video, that we just shot down in the hanger earlier, where I show you in the Enstrom, and then I also show you in the Robinson R-22; just kind of what I do as far as moving my hands on the controls to free up. I want to put in a disclaimer. You have to check with your instructor, your flight school, the POH (Pilots Operating Handbook) for the aircraft that you're flying; because you may or may not be able to lock the collective friction during flight. That will play a role in how you may be switching hands or what you may be doing. We'll go ahead and roll that video now.
Basically, PIC in this Enstrom is from the left. When you want to take your right hand off the cyclic, you're just going to simply take your left hand and take over the cyclic. Reach to what you need -the altimeter, switches, transponder, whatever you're going to do- and then hand back to here, and left hand back to the collective. Now, in the Enstrom, you cannot lock the collective during flight. That's prohibited, so you can't do that. You have to be stable flight. Of course, number one, is fly the aircraft, so have everything stable. Switch hands, do what you've got to do, hand back here, and hand back here.
When you're new to this, at first it will be really weird; but then once you get used to it, flying with your left hand is no big deal. It just seems kind of strange the first few times you do it.
All right, then the instructor's side. Normally, there'd be a collective here. We have the seat in right now for giving a couple of helicopter rides for Mother's Day. Simply, from the instructor's side in the Enstrom, you're just going to fly with the right hand. Again, you can't lock the collective in flight, so you're just going to -in stable flight- fly the aircraft, number one. When you're stable, reach up, change whatever you've got to change, then your hand back down to the collective.
All right. In a Robinson R-22, you’re PIC from the right. When you want to take your left hand off the collective during cruise flight to work with switches, buttons, whatever you've got to do; you can add just a little bit of collective friction. Get in the habit of doing it and learning how to move that friction without doing this; because every time you look down, you're taking away from looking outside. Get used to moving this on your own without looking at it. Apply a little bit of friction, take your left hand, make whatever adjustments that you have to do, and then hand back down to the collective, friction back off, and hand back onto your throttle.
Then, from the instructor's side, you'll never be soloing over here, so it shouldn't be a problem. You're going to be left-hand collective, and you'll be flying as the instructor; or if you have somebody with you, they can take the controls while you do what you've got to do.
All right. It's important to keep in mind that this is during cruise flight; this isn't during a hover. I'm going to caution you against that one. I don't really want to dig into that, because that could vary helicopter to helicopter, flight school to flight school. That question was geared while you're in the air, cross country, working charts, using your hand to do what you need to do.
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