April 1st, 2015
Total Hours: 174.5
I just can’t seem to keep up with the blog these days. Granted a lot has been happening since I started my instrument training, but it wasn’t exactly mellow before and somehow I can’t seem to make enough time for the studying, flying, and writing anymore. My checkrides for the instrument and CFII ratings are coming up next week and that is adding to the pressure. And after that, incredibly, I’m all done. It is unbelievable how quickly the instrument training has gone. It took a fraction of the time needed to complete the other certificates. There has been a lot of information to cover, but the flying is simple, and I guess that leads to it motoring by.
In the last week I finished up the remainder of my R22 flying. I had decided to split up my instrument training between the R22 and the R44 so that I could use some R44 time for fun things like long lining. Basically it works like this: For the instrument ratings I needed 35 hours of instrument flight. Forty percent, or 14 hours, can be in a flight training device, aka simulator. That leaves 21 additional hours to be flown in the helicopter. In order to be eligible to train students in the R44 we need to have a total of 25 hours when we are hired. So you can see that it would be possible to do all the instrument training in the R44 and still have four hours left to do the checkrides. That is what many people do even though it would be more fun to fly the R44 VFR. Why do the instrument in the R44 then? The main reason is that it is a very stable platform compared to the R22. With the high workload of instrument flying the easier the physical flying is the lighter the workload. And if the R44 is so much nicer to fly why not do all the training in there instead? Economics! It’s about 75% more per hour, which really adds up over the course of a couple hundred hours.
To try and make the most from the 25 hours of R44 flying in the budget I decided to split the instrument training between the two helicopters. I flew about ten hours in the R22 and will be filling in the rest with the R44. The first flight I had was to fulfill the instrument cross-country requirements. Like the other cross-country trips I’ve done this one took us over to Maui and then back again. The big difference is that I had to fly with my foggles on. Not as good for the views, but I’ve been enjoying the instrument flying so much that it didn’t matter. Besides being behind the foggles the trip was also different in that we planned it to take advantage of actual IFR routing and instrument approaches at the airports we visited. Flying the more direct instrument routes would actually be a bit boring if not for the IFR workload so I was thankful to be kept busy watching the gauges, the GPS, and listening to the comm’s radio.
Our first stop was at Kahului, an airport I visited on my commercial cross-country. I can vividly remember how overwhelming it felt at the time, flying into an airport I had never been to before, and one that is considerably busier than Kona. This time around it was cake and not just because I had been there once before. I think the IFR flying helps build a lot of confidence on the radios and it helps form a better picture of what is going on around the airport. I have heard that one of the next steps I’ll be able to take is visualizing where various aircraft are around the airport as I hear them talking to ATC. With the instrument flying I feel like this is slowly starting to happen. I know I am much more comfortable talking to ATC and not only that, more aware of what they are expecting. It’s starting to feel like we are working together and that is the ultimate goal. After all, they are there to help keep us safe. The rest of the trip took us to the east end of Maui at the small Hana airstrip and then back across the channel into Kona. I can certainly say that this cross-country was way more comfortable and relaxed in the R44 than my commercial flight in the 22!
Well, I’ll do my best to crank out a couple more blogs in these final weeks of training. Wow, final weeks of training. It feels crazy to write such a thing, but apparently it’s going to be happening. Just like all the checkrides before I’m feeling a bit nervous and wondering if I’m really ready. I’ve learned that this is normal though and I try not to let it psych me out! It’s no matter anyway, within a couple weeks max it will all be over. I am happily imagining a time in the very near future where I will not have checkrides and studying to stress over. Naturally there will be new things to consider, like getting a job for example, but it will be good to shift to a new subject!