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Training Session, Learning to Hover Helicopters with SkyMed

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I bought my first computer and first flight simulator, FS9, in December 2003. I had long wanted to learn how to fly a helicopter, following two and a half years as a passenger in an AS355N Air Ambulance, but knew I couldn't contemplate the cost of real flying lessons. Very naively, I had expected to plug everything in, jump into the cockpit and fly. I hadn't appreciated how true to life FS9 is.

My system consists of:

Intel Celeron 2.4 Processor
Jetway P4 Motherboard
40Gb Hard drive & 20Gb Slave drive
512Mb RAM
FX5600XT 256Mb 8X AGP Graphic card
Saitek X45
Packard Bell comms.

On my "C" drive I have FS9, Abacus Whirlybirds & FS Terrain.
On my "D" drive I have VFR Photographic Scenery for England & Wales and VFR Terrain.


I registered at HoverControl on 27th February 2004 and have enjoyed my time learning from the forum postings and becoming active in the discussion. At the moment I am taking a lot more advice that I can offer, but hopefully as my experience grows I will be able to reverse this trend. Early on I set up Teamspeak and Multiplayer and spent a few evenings battling with my inexperience to get my signature and avatar on screen. I have the add-on scenery for 4s2 to allow me a helipad or two to aim at!
Over the last couple of months I have benefited from a lesson from Andy (HC6) & TeddJones and a couple from Murdock. The first two concentrated on straight and level flight and the two with Murdock concentrated on my hovering ability (or lack of!!).
I have also been lucky enough to receive some one on one theory tuition with Skymed on Teamspeak. This involved talking me through installing his head up display which I had somehow lost in the depths of my computer. Whilst this didn't involve any flying, I would recommend booking this type of lesson,with an Instructor, to discuss any problems you may have.


Last evening, following a post to Skymed, regarding a couple of issues about hovering, I received a Private Message from him saying he could offer me half an hour tuition on Multiplayer. I was on the verge of going to bed but couldn't turn down the chance of learning where I had been going wrong with my hovering.
I had, a few hours previously, fitted an extesion to my cyclic to see if this improved my ability to hover. This meant I couldn't use my trigger to transmit. In the event, this turned out to be quite fortuitous as it meant I only had to concentrate on listening and flying. I had made Steve aware of this and he was happy to talk with little or no response from me. Having changed the "physics" of my cyclic, by extending it, I hadn't appreciated the need to re-calibrate it but this was quickly addressed by Steve and the cyclic was calibrated following a description I would never have thought of. Just because the cyclic CAN move a distance of 3 inches or so in any direction, that doesn't mean you have to move it that far to calibrate it. Steve described how to reduce the inputs to the calibration wizard, which, when processed would result in a much more sensitive cyclic.
We located to a quiet runway and Steve informed me that he would be in observer mode to start with. This meant he could sit right beside my aircraft, so see what I was doing, without distracting me by appearing in my screen.
And so started a very focused lesson on keeping a helicopter stationary. This consisted of getting my helicopter light on the skids and trying to keep it from moving. Steve explained the forces involved with this manoeuvre, with regards to friction with the ground, the small increases in torque needed to cause a change in lift and how to react to motion with opposing cyclic input and anticipation of what that input would do.
He also emphasised and demonstrated the minimal amount of cyclic input needed to start and arrest motion and explained the technique needed to achieve this.
My occasional loss of control went without remark and the lesson was full of reinforcement and encouragement. Shortly before the end of the lesson we were joined by Cyberbyrd who was able to expand on some of Steves points and also offered very encouraging words.


I shut my engine down and there then followed about ten minutes of discssion. Here Steve discussed the need to get my controls and settings how I want them and then to LEAVE them like that. He emphasised the need to start each flight with EXACTLY the same environment EVERY time to teach eyes and muscles to learn and react without having to think.


This morning I have returned my cyclic to it's original state and calibrated it with much smaller inputs. I remembered a post about being able to reduce the friction on the collective, and I have now done this. I have returned my cockpit to how it was before I tampered with my cyclic and I returned to the airport I was at last night and spent twenty minutes getting light on the skids. I was able to repeat my successes of last night.
Much to the dismay of my wife, I now intend to bolt my cockpit down, rather than using the temporary fittings I have and I quickly want to get some pedals as the X45 rudder does cause excessive strain on my forearm and wrist.
My half hour lesson, in fact, lasted 75 minutes and I would like to thank Steve, and Keith, for the tremendous help and advice I received in those minutes. The lesson provided much more than the time spent would have seemed to allow.


Read and re-read the articles in the Training Section.
Get your cockpit set up and configured to EXACTLY how you want it and LEAVE it that way.
Don't be afraid to ask for any help or advice - the answers are always forthcoming or a link to the relavent material is supplied.
Ask an Instructor for an evaluation lesson (sorry guys) at your earliest opportunity and see just how much you can learn and achieve in an hour.

I hope this post will benefit ALL members of HoverControl and encourage Instructors and trainees, alike, to share the experience I was fortunate enough to receive last night.

Many Thanks