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Does anyone out there have anything say on Helicopter flying in general?

Flying with a non- pilot passenger -

One of the joys of having a PPL (H) is taking others for a flight. One thing has always concerned me - What should the pilot include in his pre-flight briefing to passengers? Apart from explaining the correct manner of approach and exit from the helicopter (although I never load with rotors running) the action in the event of engine failure and subsequent exit procedure once on the ground, what other items should one include to ensure that the passenger has a safe and enjoyable flight?

Peter Christian, UK.

In reply;

Consider the the following additions to your passenger (pax) pre-flight briefing-

(a) Over land Suitable clothing/footwear; Helicopter door opening and closing; Loose articles within the cockpit; Discussion with you during radio transmission/s, to and from; What happens in the event of an engine failure, if you get knocked out on impact - what pax can do! Does he know where the ELT is, how to activate it? Is it within the helicopter or outside and do they know how to remove it and install the aerial in the event of fire or moving away from the landing site for any reason.

(b) Over water Huet course for the pilot; Life jackets, should they be worn? Liferaft, how does it work , who operates it? (pax?). Track - ships, islands, VFR (cloud cover, you will loose available autorotational height if weather unsuitable, etc.; Door opening prior to impact, etc. Some basic comments.

Go back to your basic training and pass on to your pax (only what is required for the type of flight) what your instructor taught you and what you had to verbally demonstrate during your initial flight test.

Arnold Catlin, NZ


In reply to your question it is a really good idea to remove the duals when flying with a non pilot passenger. I have had someone grab the cyclic when percieving threat, (I was banking 20 degrees to turn) another restrict the lever with 'overhang' from the seat and 'aren't those pedals well placed to rest your feet?!' Some will even stamp on the brakes!!

But the most unexpected problem was a friend I took for a flight just after getting my first licence. He went very grey just flying st & lvl, air as smooth as can be. He was nauseous, almost sick and we just got back in time.....SOME PEOPLE WILL EVEN PANIC TO GET OUT WHILST AIRBORNE! (Thankfully he didn't).

This chap had sufffered carsickness as a child which went away when he began to drive , something about being in control turns the 'switch' off apparently. He was 42 and been driving 20 yrs. But he was again a passenger in the air ....

I always ask any student or passenger if they have ever suffered with car or motion sickness and make up my own mind (depending on the reply). If it is positive you MUST assume it is likely that it will resurface. Quiz them tactfully and its not an issue but it could save you having to deal with a situation you may not have forseen otherwise. To check, do a circuit or two and see how they feel before going off anywhere.

Encourage your passenger to help with traffic spotting, 4 eyes better than 2 and it does help them to look out and more importantly look toward the horizon (linked to the above if they are latent sickies).

The bottom line is that even your passenger does not know how their mind or physiology will react to light Helicopter flight if they have not experienced it before. Having flown on airliners is so different as to be irrelevant so don't allow that to fool you.

Lastly but definately not least is this - It has been known for a passenger's clothing to 'snag' on the R22 fuel cock and turn it off when they are alighting (and you are staying in to shut down or wait for the next passenger) - see 'Deerhunting' on this website to learn how the kiwis have dealt with that. I can't offer any advice that is legal in UK save to CHECK it is ON after someone has got out.

Similar snagging can happen on the lever when they are getting out, as can rolling on throttle by sliding over it to so please sit and HOLD the throttle (you should be at 70 - 80 for someone to get out which gives you a margin and saves their ears) towards closed and hold the lever down. You'll know it was worth it the first time you feel and 'input' from the 'other side' through your collective/ throttle grip. STILL BEST TO REMOVE THE DUALS!

Please do print this, share it with your club friends and stick it on the notice board if CFI agrees. I'll be obliged and they might be too one day!

Fly safe!

Steve Sparrow


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