Whatever you do, don’t throw the bloody thing into the ground

So today started early again. No problem with that. I was the first to arrive in the car park at just gone 8:15. We cracked on at about 8:45, the only one missing was the Russian guy. We had a chat about a few things and then moved down to the hangar where we went through all the pre-flight on the R22. We used G-OJAN, which is the helicopter I fly. We found a couple of interesting things wrong with it which were quite worrying. It was absolutely fascinating though, the detail that had gone into the design and the redundancy of the systems. A couple of hours passed very quickly, we had a tea break and then Dick’s laptop blew up, literally. We went through a whole shit load more of stuff. Then we had a lunch break, I managed to cobble together another laptop with slides and things. After lunch we went through the operating manual and lots of numbers. We were asked a question about available power and how to calculate a few things. It all revolved around landing in the garden of a girlfriend, who’s daddy had a prized 400ft Beech tree. So we all did the calculation, picked up the GF and then all died and crashed into the tree. The one thing the whole room forgot to take into account was the weight of the over eating bitch. It’s all in the flight planning. Last part of the day was taken up with watching the R22 being safety tested to produce a thing called the ‘height / velocity curve’. Which is a diagram which contains things called ‘avoid areas’. This is to allow you to take off safely and also be able to recover in the event of a failure. The only problem is, someone has to come up with these figures. In 1979, when the helicopter was designed, two poor test pilots had to fly it at different heights and different velocities. Now as they had to simulate the ‘average’ pilot, they also had to incorporate a 1 second delay before they did anything. Considering the rotor only has the potential energy for 1.1 seconds they have fairly large testicles. So they fly at say 100ft at 50Kts and throttle chop, so killing the engine. Then wait one second. Then try and land it. Then they do the same thing at 40Kts etc. To the point where they crash. At that point on the video, where its just hit the deck, broken both skids, and slid alone the tarmac a few hundred feet you can hear Frank Robinson say ‘That’s where we’ll put the X on the graph then’. It is testament that it’s quite a hardy beast as these two test pilots got out, dusted themselves down and just got on with it. I still have the flying practical to do, which should be good fun.

At the end of the day I shook Dicks hand. He said, ‘Thank you for saving my life with this bloody laptop’, I replied with just, ‘Thank you for hopefully just saving my life’, and we parted ways.

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