The slingload hook fitted to an R22.

The slingload hook fitted to an R22. It is positioned directly below the C of G both laterally and longitudinally so any load carried does not affect balancing. Any load will, of course, affect all up weight. For placement of a load onto the target area aground it helps to think the load as being suspended underneath the fulcrum of the P1 collective lever, ie. to the Pilot's left rear. Hook release operation is always checked before any load is attached. The load strop is released from the hook by an electric solenoid arrangement. This is actuated by a button on the front facing side of the P1 cyclic grip. A 'fail safe' cable operated release is also provided. The cable can be seen going to the hook mechanism, as can the wiring for solenoid operation. Another mechanical release is provided for ground crew (the loader/driver) to use. This provides additional safety precaution.

Attaching the strop to the slingload hook. During this training flight the instructor (yours truly!) acts as loader/driver, attaching the the strop to the hook. The Pilot must hover over the loader/driver very steadily and accurately. Position of the hook in relation to the Pilot has to be borne in mind to position it for the loader. The most common error made by students (nervous of hovering over a person for the first time) is to hover too high and too far back. This makes things hard for the loader, who might have to stretch awkwardly or be unable to reach the hook at all. Many CPL flight examinations are conducted in this way when the time comes for the slingload element. The examiner is never impressed if he cannot reach the hook to attach the strop, Pilots have been known to fail CPL flight tests in precisely this way. Remember, the examiner already has confidence in the your ability to hover safely or he would not elect to stand under the Helicopter! Allow this thought to give you a little (but not too much!) confidence and don't fail for being too shy.

Lifting the load Logs are just one type of load that are transported during commercial Helicopter operations. Water may be carried and 'dumped' on fires, seeding or topdressing (fertiliser) may be spread, hunting kills may be retrieved. Aerials, air conditioning units and all sorts of machinery and building materials may be placed on top of buildings in cities or in inaccesible locations in wild areas. This training mission is set in conditions a little more representative of 'real' sorties. Not all airfileds have low flying facilities available so training will often be done in designated 'Low flying areas'. Training loads vary, they may be a collection of tyres tied together or a container full of water. Later, it may be a bucket that has to be filled whilst airborne, achieved by dunking it in a pool of water to fill it. This practice helps to hone load placement skills.

Transitioning away with the load.

Payload is not large using an R22 so training is almost always a solo pilot operation (excluding initial training with light fuel and slingload).

Controlling a swinging or oscillating load is difficult at first but you soon learn to fly over an extreme position of load swing, thereby neutralising its movement. Another way to regain control of the load is to simply fly away and regain control by making it follow the aircraft.

One of the most important elements of slingloading is to make sure the load really HAS been released. It is paramount that the pilot does this before lifting off again. It is done by observing the strop from the best position (depends on Helicopter type and surroundings) and gently moving away from the load to make sure it is not still attached. An unexpected snagging of a strop or mistaken ly believeing it to be released when it isn't often ends in dynamic rollover of the Helicopter. This can be even more serious than during a take off or landing as the height at which it happens is often greater.

Flying a slingload is quite a new experience. You have to do just that, 'Fly the load'. Flying the Helicopter becomes almost secondary. Many phases of slingloading require the Pilot's head to be well out of the door aperture, looking down and watching the load fly. For Pilots with short legs it can be quite difficult to be stretched out on the right side and yet use large amounts of left pedal (power in use is invariably high).

However, once gained, the skill of flying in this manner does your general flying skills no end of good. All of a sudden, flying in the normal position seems so much easier, your accuracy improves many times over. The Heli almost 'flies itself'!

It's a real achievement to be able to 'button off' the load and move away to see it right in the middle of the mark!

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Flying the load. Flying the load. Flying the load.