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Murdock's Journey through HC Helicopter Training.

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It was a cold November afternoon, about half a year ago, one of those days when the weather is so bad that you just want to spend some ‘quality time’ with the computer! Well I booted up my machine and started on the usual flight from my home airport down to the south coast of England, what aircraft was I flying? Well, you guessed it, the default Cessna 172. Probably one of the most boring aircraft included in the FS package. However a beginners favourite nonetheless!

When you had been sim-flying for as little time as I had (about two months) the only thing you would be able to handle would probably be the 172 – at least that was the extent of my skills at that point.

Well the 172 is all fine and dandy and it will amuse every simmer for a while, but at some point it stopped satisfying me. I was looking for something more, something a lot more challenging. So I racked my brains as to how I could make the most out of this FS software, which I had just blown 40 pounds on! It suddenly dawned on me, like some kind of divine inspiration. Yes folks, Helicopters. I was so eager to start flying choppers that I just jumped straight in. My first port of call were the heli flights already within FS, I fired them up and gave them a go. My thought process at that moment in time was if Microsoft couldn’t teach me to fly a chopper then who can!? I was adamant that it would be a breeze….

I couldn’t have been more wrong! I commenced my first heli flights in FS. I whacked the collective straight up to 100% torque before you can say, “Burnt out Turbine”. Wow I am flying, how do I get back down with my body intact? That was a tough question that I struggled to answer on my own. I had no idea of the way of the beast; I only had a loose understanding of some of the concepts of helicopter flight. After numerous failed landing attempts, all I had to show was some smoking holes in the ground and a bruised ego.

So I set about changing all that, I set about finding some sort of learning resource for FS helis on the web. A quick google search revealed ‘hovercontrol.com’. I read through the site numerous times, back to front, over and over, the site really impressed me, and stood out above all the usual FS sites, which I must say do nothing for me. I signed up to the forums, and became enthusiastically involved in the community. By Christmas time I was on multiplayer every night, having some great flying experiences and making many new friends.

After Christmas I could hover (in my opinion), however back then I thought I was hovering even if I was up and down 50 feet and bobbing around like a bee in a jar. To me it was hovering and I thought I had cracked it!

Early Hovering Skills, or lack of!

I continued flying like this, as I would call it rather ‘hap-hazardly’ for quite a while. It wasn’t until February that Steve Hanley the infamous ‘SkyMed’, now friend as well as fellow IP, introduced the idea of the Hawks formation team. I jumped at the chance to take part, as we met every weekend my flying skills slowly improved, step-by-step. It got to a point where I had it pretty much mastered. I thought about the CP, but I really didn’t see the point, it just seemed like a lot of wasted time and effort to me.

Steve is a very persistent guy; he will push students to achieve the best that they are capable of. Steve pushed me forward, to see what I could achieve. He just would not give it a break until I finally agreed to start some ‘real’ training for the CP. I practiced for a couple of weeks, diligently every night, about an hour or so. I had a really solid base to work from, especially considering that I had a very knowledgeable group of pilots to help me out – the Hawks.

Well a couple more months went by when I sort of gave up on the idea of CP, I guess it slipped to the back of my mind, while real life decided to take a large chunk out of my sim time! However a couple of months later, I got back into it. Steve just gave me one last final push. He scheduled a checkride; the rest as they say is history….

It was the day of the test; my stomach was in my mouth, I was SO nervous. The beads of sweat started rolling, you could say I was geared up; I had my glass of water, and the obligatory pair of brown trousers for the checkride!

The test commenced, I did all the manouvers to the best of my ability. When the test ended I went into another channel, while Steve discussed my fate with Jim and Paul. After a short time, we were all back in checkride comms. I awaited the bad news. “Tom, you finally did it, you passed, well done!”, Wow, I jumped up out of the chair so fast I almost ripped my headset cable apart. All that training had paid off. I was as pleased as punch!

Flying with the Hovercontrol Hawks!

Ok so I had my CP ticket, where do I go now? How about teaching others, it was certainly something I had considered. It was not long after my CP that I was invited to become an Instructor Trainee. I would be able to help out others, and hopefully pass on all I learnt during the CP training program. Well here I am now, full Instructor Pilot at Hovercontrol. It took meticulous practice, and a lot of time but it has unquestionably paid off.

There is a moral to this story that applies here at HC aswell as in real life, if you have a dream, and you want to realize that dream YOU have to do something about it. When YOU make the moves to do it for yourself you will reap the rewards, not only in enormous satisfaction, but also in admiration from your peers.

I never would have thought over half a year ago that I would be in a position like this, enjoying myself as I am now. I love it. Back before my CP I didn’t think I had any hope of flying to a CP standard as I use a twist grip stick and a low-end computer, but I made it regardless. It doesn’t matter what hardware you have, how much memory, graphics card, twist grip or not, whatever. I did the whole CP checkride with an average of 15fps and constant stuttering. It just goes to show what can be achieved. Anything is possible you just need the drive and determination to do it.

Thank you Hovercontrol, and thanks to everybody who made my journey possible. I am thoroughly enjoying my ‘innings’ at HC.

Now go get that CP! Then iNav! Then advanced…. ;-)