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!