HAI Heli-Center: Bringing Helicopter Careers and Safety to Oshkosh

HAI Heli-Center: Bringing Helicopter Careers and Safety to Oshkosh

22-Jul-2015 Source: HAI

In addition to their daily presence in the HAI HELI-CENTER, UND Aerospace ran an add-on information session on opening day at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh in the HAI-sponsored Forum 5 building.

The session began with a video featuring the range of mission profiles open to qualified helicopter pilots — the diversity of which certainly came as a bit of a surprise to some of the fixed-wing flyers in attendance.

The session continued with UND instructors describing the process of transitioning to rotary-wing, including Part 61 and Part 141 requirements, various practical test standards (PTS) tasks, and emergency procedures unique to helicopter aviation.

An interesting question was asked by an audience member: “Is it easier to train a fixed-wing pilot to transition to helicopters or train a ‘blank canvas’ youngster who has never flown anything?”

The instructors answered by asking what is the hardest part about learning to fly fixed-wing aircraft. “Landing” was the answer. The hardest part about learning rotary-wing, they shared, is the hover. Beyond developing a feel for hovering, the instructors said, mastering helicopter flight is usually pretty straightforward for fixed-wing pilots: get a handle on point-in-space approaches, minimum instrument flight rule speeds, the lack of autopilot in most cases, and the inherent stability of helicopters, and you are set.

Scott Burgess with the USHST and Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University gave a Helicopter Pilot Skills seminar on Day 2 in Forum 5. “Use it or lose it,” he said. “This is certainly true when it comes to maintaining instrument proficiency in the helicopter.”

A common thread in many helicopter accidents is the pilot’s decision to press on in marginal weather conditions. With helicopters predominantly operated under visual flight rules, Scott stressed the importance of taking steps to maintain instrument proficiency, less these important skills become rusty. Helicopter pilots need them. “Pressing Mother Nature is never a win-win situation.”

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