Helicopter Pilot Training

A few years back I qualified as a private helicopter pilot and Ive been asked a lot about it by people who want to look into flying, so this group is dedicated to anyone who wants to talk about training, flying or just thinking about flying helicopters.
Do you think learning to hover a helicopter is the coolest thing youve ever done? Do you want to start training but need more information?

The standard training helicopter is a Robinson R22. Its the cheapest to train in and has the best saftey record.

I trained in the UK at Shoreham airport (on the south coast) at a school called 'Fast Helicopters' (to see the link below, click on "see all"). The private pilots licence PPL(H) course is a minimum of 40 hours flight (on average people do 60 hours), including 10 hours solo and costs around £10,000. One 1hr lesson costs around £220. Theres a flying examination, a solo cross country flight (between 3 airports) and 7 ground exams to complete, plus a radio oral exam. And im told it costs about half as much to train in the US.
Also conventional aircraft cost half as much to learn (but anyone whos flown both will tell you helicopters are more fun :)

Once you have your license you need to do a minimum of two hours flying a year and one flying check with an examiner to keep it current. If you havent done this you will need to do a slightly more extensive check to be able to fly on your own.

The flight medical costs around £70 and needs to be taken every 2 years to keep your licence valid

In addition to the standard ground school and flight training Here are some good techniques and tips that i picked up along the way:

1) I bought microsoft flight simulator and set it up with the correct aircraft (R22) and photographic senery of the UK, so i could practice navigation with ground features being exactly as they are in real life. It sounds a bit geeky but its perfect for getting ready for your first cross country solo. You wont get lost, but its also important to use this in conjuction with the map and compass as you would in real flight.

2) I combined this with a dictaphone, that i had recorded simulated radio communication by a controller, so that i could play the transmitions and answer them whilst flying on the simulator to get used to dealing with the radio and getting the flying right at the same time. It really works. Radio becomes second nature.

3) I purchased the "ppl confuser" to help answer the exam papers (all but two). Its a book that contains similar exam questions and answers for the current years exam papers. (And the school recommends it, believe it or not!). Its important to complete these exams within a year of each other, otherwise they will become invalid and you'll have to take them again. You'll get three shots at each one.


4) for the remaining two exams "Aircraft general & principles of flight" and "flight performance and planning" I got Pooleys JAR Helicopter Manual Principles of Flight Technical 'H'. This deals with both those papers effectively although it doesnt give you the current questions or answers.


5) For the emergency procedures during flight, i wrote on different coloured cards (the warning on one side, and the procedure on the other). You get to know them pretty quick that way.

6) When hovering look straight ahead and relax on the controls. Its so easy to find your self looking down, but you'll keep the aircraft level if you can see the horizon. Hovering feels difficult at first but after 10 to 12 lessons something kicks in and it becomes instinctive.

7) During an approach for landing, keep a good constant forward speed (A walking pace relative with the ground) and use the collective to make height adjustments on your way down. Dont slow your forward speed to give your self more time to descend. Control the descent with the collective.

8) Aviate, navigate, communicate...In that order.
All these things are important, but some are more important than others (for obvious reasons)

9) Left, Port, Red......Right, Starboard, Green (all the small words on the LEFT...all the bigs words on the RIGHT)

If anyone wants to add anything here, let me know and i'll update the group profile with it.