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How to pass the CP Helicopter Checkride - Part Two

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How to pass the Certified Pilot Check-ride Part 2:

In follow up to my last, long post in respect to passing the Certified Pilot checkride, I will finish up the original article with some other things to watch out for:

The Hovercircle work in respect to hovering, pedal turns and lateral maneuvers has usually been practiced to the point that, when an applicant for CP is performing those specific maneuvers they are usually done quite well to at least a pass mark of a 3. In fact, I would suggest that many applicants spend too much time practicing the Hovercircle maneuvers and not enough time in practicing the 3 flight maneuvers that follow, specifically:

TEST 5: Orbit the Hovercontrol Headquarter Facility at 100 feet AGL and at a speed of between 20 – 30 knots.

This test is designed to show your ability to control the helicopter in the specific flight regime of slow controlled flight while performing turns and maintaining a constant altitude.

This one is a deceptively simple test that most people rarely practice, but it will catch you out and make you fail your CP unless you are paying attention to detail. I see many people unable to maintain a constant altitude of 100 feet AGL, and fluctuating up or down 20-30 feet during the turns.

To master this test you should break the maneuver into 3 parts:

Part 1:

Start from the center of the Hovercircle, lift up into a controlled hover, transition into climbing forward flight and climb to 100 feet AGL at 25 knots.

PRACTICE THIS PART OVER AND OVER AGAIN. It is so easy to over speed and blow your assigned altitude. You want the chopper leveled off at 100 feet agl, NOT blowing the assigned altitude and then creeping back down again to stabilize at 100 feet.

Part 2 :

Practice flying at 100 feet AGL at 25 knots while making turns left and right MAINTAINING 25 kts AND 100 feet. I see folks who climb or descend in the turns 20-30 feet, which, if you stop and think about it, 20-30 % of the assigned altitude.

Part 3:

Practice a slow, controlled descent from 100 feet altitude agl, coming to a full stop 10 feet above the center of the Hovercircle and in a controlled hover. After the hover is stabilised, then land.

Put these 3 maneuvers together and you will have this portion of the test mastered.

TEST 6: Fly the Runway, Join Left Traffic, and Approach and Land on the Numbers

This is another are where I see some pilots have problems in the CP test.

Basically, what we are expecting of you is to be able to fly a left traffic pattern for runway 29 at KMSO, and land on the runway directly on top of the actual runway numbers, announcing by voice (and with correct radio procedures) pilot’s intentions for all flight maneuvers.

You will start from an altitude of approximately 4000MSL over the town of Missoula and, announcing intentions, fly at 80 kts directly over and down the center of, runway 29. At the end of the runway, you will announce intentions of turning left crosswind and follow the traffic pattern all the way to final and land on the runway numbers in the same heading as the runway.

Problems I see here are poor radio communications, failure to maintain a constant altitude and not landing directly on the numbers.

Make sure you have your radio procedures down pat, that you follow radio etiquette and that you understand the left traffic pattern and are able to name each leg correctly.

Make sure you can maintain a constant altitude. When practicing you should allow yourself NO leeway with altitude deviation, and try your best to perfect accurate altitude control.

Finally, a well set up approach on final is the key to landing on the numbers. It is exactly the same procedure used in the previous exercise, except we will use the numbers as our target, as opposed to the center of the hovercircle.

TEST 7: Hover-Taxi back to the Hovercontrol HQ.

The final test is a slow, controlled hover-taxi back to the training circle from the numbers of runway 29.

Practice flying at about 10 feet agl at a speed between 3-5 knots. What we want to see is precise pilot control in respect to altitude and speed, as well as your ability to follow assigned taxiways AND to follow radio procedures in respect to announcing your intentions.


Pay attention to these 3 tests. They are deceptively simple yet fiendishly difficult to perform masterfully. Diligent practice will see you make huge improvements when it comes down to acing these tests.

Remember, the Certified Pilot test is all about controlling the chopper in ALL flight regimes, not just the hover. Pay attention to mastering all 7 areas of the CP test ride, and you will be assured of gaining pilot proficiency and control over the helicopter so that you will be able to perform any maneuver you wish and have a great deal of satisfaction knowing that you can do so.

Did you know that less than 1% of all Hovercontrol Members are Certified Pilots here? Its a small but growing club of dedicated pilots who have taken the time to master helicopter flight, and have been rewarded for that dedication by the Certified Pilot Ribbon.

I would love to see YOU with that ribbon under your name, so If I or anyone else at HC can help you in any way to teach you helicopter flying or with any other aspect of flight simulation as it pertains to helicopters, do not heisitate to ask.