December 2011


Well, here we are again, yet another update. Wow, three updates in as many days. That’s really good for me. I am actually sitting in Laos in the hotel. I was having trouble with the internet connection here all last night and was unable to get the work done that I needed, so when my friends went on a day trip today I choose to stay back, finish my work and then update my blog with the free time that I had left. I am hungry, but I am not about to venture out on my own and pick up dinner. You can see from the picture below that the food here can be quite interesting!

But onto better and more interesting things. I will write about my Laos trip later, but I really wanted to bring everyone up to date on the progress of my MD500 restoration. In my last post I talked about the ship having made it back from the paint shop in Texas after a 10 month paint project. No, its not really supposed to take 10 months to get a helicopter painted, but that is really a story for another day and time. Needless to say, my ship is back in Phoenix and in the very capable hands of Phoenix Heliparts in Mesa, AZ.

What this means is that we can finally start the process of putting the 500back together again! This is a great step in the process as it signals the beginning of the end for the project. After such a long process, one can see why I am very happy to be talking about reassembly and engine start!

So here we go! One of the things that was done was a complete new wiring harness was installed in the ship. This includes every single wire, every single connector on the entire ship including the engine. Here you can see a part of the new wiring having been installed. This happens to be under the pilot’s seat.

The quality workmanship of the technicians and mechanics at PHI is amazing and it shows even in the little things like this new wiring harness. My goal is to be very proud of everything that I have put into the 500 and work like this will help make that pride a reality. Every single wire is marked with a wire code and along with all new wiring comes an all new wiring schematic! This should make changes in the future much easier than trying to decode the rats nest that was the 500 before this project was started.


Next on the list of things to do was to get the transmission and main rotor system reinstalled in the ship. This is not an easy task as the transmission is one of the heaviest (if not THE heaviest) items in the helicopter. Remember the nice pretty paint inside and out? Planning and care has to take place to make sure it remains that way when reinstalling the transmission.

So now the transmission and the main rotor have been reinstalled in the helicopter. Once that is done, the blower assembly, new belt and all of the components for heat and anti-ice can be reinstalled. All items were repaired or replaced and repainted before reassembly.

And finally all of those components have been reinstalled and we can move on to other things!

Next we throw on the towel bars and the ham radio antennas:

And then we move on to the exterior lighting which will include all new LED navigation lighting, new Whelen high intensity LED strobes both on the tail and on the belly and a new HID pulse light kit for the nose!

Now we add a highly polished static port and all new wiring in the engine bay and we are ready to move on to something else.

And one little personal touch to end the day

(Yes I know its crooked, that will be fixed)



Richard J. Sears

Hi – I am the author – Richard Sears. I have been a pilot and flight instructor for almost 24 years!

If you live in the San Diego area and would like to arrange a free airplane or helicopter flight for your child (age 8 to 18) through the EAA Young Eagles program please email me at richard@sears.net

If you are a Scout Master, I can work with your troop on the Aviation Merit Badge and provide all ground training and flights necessary to meet the latest requirements of the Aviation Merit Badge. I am a registered Merit Badge Counselor with the BSA San Diego – Imperial Council.

All my flight time is donated, there is no cost to the parents or the troop.

Parents are always welcome to ride along and get hooked!

As we are close to Christmas, one thinks of Christmas trees, wrapped presents and the glee that will be manifested on that wonderful morning on December 25th when kids all over get to open their presents and squeal in delight at what they find hidden beneath the wrapping. So was it for me as well on the 16th of October, 2011 when Christmas came just a bit early. My MD500 was back from the paint shop and it was time to unwrap my present!

As you know if you have been following this blog, I have been working on my MD500 restoration project since I dropped it off at Phoenix Heliparts in Mesa Arizona in May of 2010! The paint job alone took from January of 2011 until October of 2011 – a staggering 10 months of work just for paint and now we are pushing 19 months of work on my helicopter – from May of 2010 when I dropped it off at PHI until December of 2011 and we are not done yet! To say this has been a long project is nothing short of a HUGE understatement….but as my friends keep telling me – think of how much money you have been saving by flying your R44 at 14GPH verses the 500 at 28GPH!

The work being performed on my ship is nothing short of a total makeover. Nothing was left unchecked, no repair left undone, no STC or accessory not seriously looked at and reviewed, many incorporated into the repairs of the 500. We see light at the end of the tunnel, I have conversations with PHI about engine start dates, test flying and delivery dates and I am as giddy as all of those kids on Christmas morning getting ready to unwrap my own present.

You would think that unwrapping something as big as a helicopter would be easy work, but you would be far from right. The wrapping is applied as a shrink wrap and there are special coverings laid under the wrap to protect the new paint. We ended up having some slight issues with this wrapping method, but nothing a good buff job will not take care of once the ship has been reassembled.


So with the help of Ryan (PHI), my son Jentry and Mary (our awesome photographer) we spent the next several hours carefully removing all of the wrapping off of the 500. We had to be very careful not to scratch the new paint, so it was a very slow going process. In the process, we found some areas that will need to be touched up, but overall the paint job will make my 500 a one-of-a-kind!


With the paint job out of the way and the ship safely tucked back in the hanger at PHI, I guess the only thing left now its to put it all back together again!


Richard J. Sears

Hi – I am the author – Richard Sears. I have been a pilot and flight instructor for almost 24 years!

If you live in the San Diego area and would like to arrange a free airplane or helicopter flight for your child (age 8 to 18) through the EAA Young Eagles program please email me at richard@sears.net

If you are a Scout Master, I can work with your troop on the Aviation Merit Badge and provide all ground training and flights necessary to meet the latest requirements of the Aviation Merit Badge. I am a registered Merit Badge Counselor with the BSA San Diego – Imperial Council.

All my flight time is donated, there is no cost to the parents or the troop.

Parents are always welcome to ride along and get hooked!

Heading to Phoenix for 4th of July

It seems like no matter what I do I am always behind in updating my blog. Time passes and many things go on around me, requiring my interaction, input, review, interpretation….on and on it goes and I always seem to forget to keep things updated here. Well, one can always hope to make a change that sticks…like quitting smoking, giving up drinking, or in my case, an attempt to keep things up to date here at http://richard.sears.net !

So what has been keeping you busy you ask? Well, I added another type rating to my ATP certificate – this time the CE-500. I also added Rotorcraft-Helicopter to my ATP certificate after passing the IFR and ATP checkrides in my R44, both on the same day. I have also added my MEI to my Flight Instructor Certificate after passing the MEI checkride in a CitationJet. So, three ratings over the course of a year is not a bad average. My next stop will be my Helicopter CFI/CFII. I plan to start that by taking a class with Chin Tu of Civic Helicopters in Carlsbad starting in May of 2012. I am a firm believer that in order to keep your mind working, you must always stretch it by continuing to put stuff into it. In my case, I love aviation so it is the pursuit of more ratings and certificates that I work towards. Whatever your hobby or field of endeavors – I highly recommend a continuing line of study – it really does help keep you young (your brain at least)!

Besides all of the flying, I have been doing more flying! Imagine that. I teach flight training in both the CE-525 and the CE-500 along with the occasional dual-instruction flight in N736TB. This is the very same N736TB owned by the Flying Penguins Flying Club for many years now and the same tail number that I liked so well that I patterned my MD500 tail number (N757TB) after. I also reserved N369RS for my 500, but it just does not roll off the tongue as easily, so 757TB it is – at least for now!

One of the things that I love to do is to fly for the Young Eagles and the Boy Scouts. Anyone that has looked through my blog or that knows me knows that I enjoy exposing people to aviation. One of the ways to do this is through organizations that foster good will towards aviation. The Young Eagles has been doing this through their program to fly young people ages 8 through 17 in an aircraft and the BSA has the Aviation Merit Badge. I have been flying kids and their parents for over 15 years – at last count I have flown over 800 young people, 350 through the Young Eagles program alone. If you fly, I encourage you to expose the youth of today to aviation by involving yourself in the Young Eagles or the BSA or both! You can never tell what effect taking a kid on a flight will have. I myself was exposed to aviation when I was 10 or so when I was taken on a flight in a sea plane by a pilot that understood what aviation can do to a person. I don’t remember that pilot’s name, but I do know that he forever changed the way I looked at the world.

I like to think that I am doing the same thing that he did. My goal is to expose as many young people to aviation that I can – its a numbers game really…enough of them fly and one or two of them will eventually get the bug and become pilots. Think of it a “Pay it Forward”. These pilots will hopefully remember their first flight with me and go on to fly with other young people – keeping the tradition alive.

Some day I won’t be able to fly. I hope this day is many years to come, but when the day does come for me to hand in my wings, I will have all the memories of all the flights that I have done, and maybe some pilot out there will run across my blog and remember what it was like to take to the skies for the first time with me.

Richard J. Sears

Hi – I am the author – Richard Sears. I have been a pilot and flight instructor for almost 24 years!

If you live in the San Diego area and would like to arrange a free airplane or helicopter flight for your child (age 8 to 18) through the EAA Young Eagles program please email me at richard@sears.net

If you are a Scout Master, I can work with your troop on the Aviation Merit Badge and provide all ground training and flights necessary to meet the latest requirements of the Aviation Merit Badge. I am a registered Merit Badge Counselor with the BSA San Diego – Imperial Council.

All my flight time is donated, there is no cost to the parents or the troop.

Parents are always welcome to ride along and get hooked!