March 2008

This is a short video of the landing at a waterfall in the Julian Mountains.

A friend of mine got a short video of me taking off from the Julian Pie factory just outside Julian California.

or…how I ended up flying home in the backseat of my own helicopter!

I thought I would share this everyone who might get a chuckle out of my potential “disaster”….

So I was out yesterday working with my instructor on 90 and 180 degree autos in my R44. Everything was going well. We had started the day with a series of hovering autos and progressed to a couple of 90 autos at our local training area, to grass. After a couple of well timed 90s which ended with a light touch down on the skids, my instructor decided to move to a nearby local airport for some more training.

I was in the front right seat of 4142G, a new R44 Raven II with about 50 hours on it, my instructor was in the front left, and oh yes, my 10 year old “little brother” (next door neighbor boy to whom I play big brother on occasion) was in the back seat. Now how did I forget about him…? After the first couple of “Hey, those are really cool” comments from the back seat, I totally forgot about my young passenger.

So we moved to Ramona airport and started another series of right and left hand 90 and 180 autos. I was doing pretty well, concentrating on RPM, Airspeed, landing point, flare, not too much flare, pull pitch, heading..and of course LEVEL the HELICOPTER before touch down! With all this great training going on, I had totally forgotten about the poor kid in the back seat!!

We asked for a west departure and off we went. About 30 seconds later, my young passenger mentioned that he was going to be sick!!! WOW! Nothing gets your attention faster than the thought of someone throwing up in your brand new helicopter!

Thankfully we were over a open field and I was able to land immediately. When I realized how close we had been to disaster and how bad he felt, we shut down 42G and spent about 30 minutes walking around and drinking water…he spent a bunch of time laying on the ground looking up at the sky, hoping not to get sick. All of this in some farmer’s field!

After about 30 minutes, he decided he was ready to head back home. I decided that it might be best for him to ride up front with my instructor for better air flow and visibility and he seemed very happy with that idea. Within a few minutes, my instructor had him working the radios and flying the helicopter and all thoughts of being sick were gone.

When we got back to Palomar Airport, he and I talked about letting me know sooner next time he does not feel well. I learned a very valuable lesson that I thought (after 20+ years of fixed wing flying and over 250 Young Eagle and Boy Scout flights) I had learned – be very aware of your passengers, especially kids. I should have realized that when he stopped talking, he did not feel well, but I was so engaged in my own training, I totally forgot about him and what the autos were doing to him!

Since he has flown with me so many times in my airplane and helicopter, I never gave it a second thought – he has never felt sick before. Thankfully we were able to divert this disaster.

And that is how I ended up flying home in the back seat of my own helicopter!



I was searching for a quick R44 weight and balance program and ran across several interesting ones including several excel spreadsheets.

I ran across this Weight and Balance page and thought it worked pretty good! It nice to be able to hit it from a website to do a quick check. However make sure you use your own ship’s weights!!


Well, today was another wide ride in 4142G.

When we departed Palomar for the “Ranch”, the wind was 25 knots directly down the runway. Gusting to 28. Since the nice folks at Civic aligned my helicopter directly into the wind, this was no problem at all. However when we arrived at the ranch, things changed quite a bit.

First I have to say that I LOVE windy days. I love they as a fixed wing pilot and I love then as a rotor craft pilot. Why you ask..? Its simple. It hones your skills. If you can takeoff, fly, and then land in a 20 to 30 knot gusting wind, then on calm days you look like you have been flying for 10,000 hours!

So we set out to the ranch, the wind buffeting us quite a bt as we flew along. This is all quite new to me since I started flying helicopters 5 or 6 years ago. My Cirrus does not act like that in the wind. It hardly notices it at all once airborn except in ground track corrections and loss or gain of ground speed.

42G however feel all the gusting all the time. I have gotten used to it now, but it was a bit distracting initially.

So we arrive at the ranch, and Attilio (my instructor) decides that today is a fantastic day to find a 4′ x 4′ piece of highly visable grass and practice pickups and sit downs. This is in preparation for better landing on the cart that houses 42G when she is not airborne. We then do this every 45 degrees on the compass. It is as much a lesson in how to pick up the helicopter as it is in how to set it down exactly where you want it to be. We had great fun then entre time we were doing this exercise.

Next came the 90, 180 and 360 degree peddle turns (along with a great discussion on LTE), more sit downs, and of course, more pickups. Then we ran through auto quick stops, quick stops, some hovering autos and finally sat 42G back down. I glance at the clock – 2.2 hours so far, not a bad flight so far I tell myself. I mentally tick off about 40 hours in the R44 now and feel pretty god with my progress.

Attilio looks at me an asks me is I am ready to have some fun. Stupidly I respond Sure !!

I pick 42G into a hover and he directs me to the very small, but very important switch on the pilot’s side of the cyclic marked HYD and tells me to switch it to the off position. Wow, what a ride that was. I cannot even begin to tell you how inadequate I was at hovering 42G with our hydraulics off line. It was as if I had forgotten how to hover at all. Peddle turns with no hydraulics and 28 knot gusting winds was like flying a kite with one bad wing – it was a joke. I was glad I could keep her in the air!! Needless to say, once I got a handle on how much control input it took to hover somewhat near my spot, we set down. When, we are done…opps not quite. Attilio smiles and tells me to pick 42G up and hover, all without the hydraulics. When I pointed out that I would never do that in real life, instead calling the AAA of the helicopter world, he just laughed and told me to be care careful on liftoff!

It was not as smooth as it could have been, but I managed to keep us alive and the big twirling thing above me at all times. After about 10 minutes of this, I thought I was going to die. It was all worth it when I hit the switch and fell back in love with 42G.

At the end of our flight (3.3 hours total), I was able to shoot and land, on my first attempt, a landing to the cart. Winds – 25 gusting to 28.

It was a great day!

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