So the skills test, is it all just one big conspiracy?

So I’ve been over analysing this as normal. You do sixty-five odd hours of tuition, fly a hundred mile cross-country, so why then do a test to show you can fly the thing when obviously you can. Well. I was told just before we set off that I could navigate and I could fly, what this test was about was captaincy and how I could deal with various situations. So everything goes fine for the first twenty-five minutes, leave Staverton, on heading, start stopwatch. Everything goes tickety-boo. Then you go over that bloody mountain. It’s a bit like the Bermuda triangle, something bloody weird happens. If there is any wind at all you will be blown madly off course. I worked out it was actually about nine miles off course. You are expecting to see Chipping-Camden, and it ain’t there. I’ve never seen anyone smile so much at someone else fucking something up so completely. Then it kind of clicked. This was what was expected to happen. There is no-way a heading hold would work on that route. He was just interested in how I would deal with the situation. Thankfully I realised how far out we were and corrected it and found the destination. Promptly then took the wrong road out of that and had to correct that again. The whole test was a series of tasks and situations. Each one was carefully designed to catch you out. Even back on the airfield we’d just been doing some slope landings, very close to the tree line in front of us. He then says, right, do a 180 degree spot turn to the left. Rather than do it, I said I think we are far too close to the trees so we should back up a bit. That was the answer he said he wanted. If I had done the spot turn I would have hit the trees with the tail rotor. Its a very clever test. To be honest some of my flying was bloody awful, but when he pointed to the oil light and said ‘oil light is on, too late’ and snapped the throttle closed, that collective shot down and I turned into wind in about four seconds. And it wasn’t like that only happened once, I had every failure I’d ever heard of, plus a few more I hadn’t. He did put me into a rearward acceleration so I had zero airspeed then told me to turn, it flipped round and shot into a dive, I just let it settle and then recovered it, never experienced that before. After I shut the aircraft down I asked if I’d passed, he said, yes yes, your flying is fine, the captaincy was very good as well, but you should relax more. I certainly have a lot of respect for the man, he is the son of a very famous test pilot. He is listed as one of the finest and most experienced helicopter pilots in the world and holds several world records. I have a huge amount of respect for him. It was an absolute pleasure, if somewhat a slightly terrifying one to have my skills test taken by this man, it’s certainly two hours of my life I’m never going to forget.

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