A Moment In Chaos!

Moment of Chaos #2

I was fortunate enough to be flying UH-1H helicopters within days of my nineteenth birthday. After all these years, it is still one of the greatest thrills of my life. Like anything you are learning, there are good days and bad days.

TH-55We learned to fly in an inverted lawnmower called the TH-55. By the time I achieved my fifty-five hours in on that little helicopter I was a master at hovering. Well, then we moved into the UH-1H (Huey) and I was convinced there was something wrong with the damn aircraft.

I hated that oversized tadpole!

One of my TAC officers asked me after a few attempts at hovering the Huey what I thought of it.

“I don’t know sir, seems a bit unstable.” I replied sardonically.

He flashed a knowing smile at me that clearly said, you are a dumb ass, and then replied. “You sure it isn’t you candidate McDonald?”

All the TAC officers where veteran pilots and knew more about flying than I ever would.

“You are probably right Sir, I’m sure I will get the hang of it soon enough.” I replied still feeling as though it was the aircrafts fault. I was a damn good pilot in the little helicopter.

Well eventually, I was hovering the Huey as if I was doing it my whole life.

Several weeks later, I was having one of those GREAT days. It wasn’t a good day, it was a GREAT day. I nailed every maneuver as if it was a walk in the park. Even the ones I dreaded because I knew they were my weaker maneuvers. It was a great day to be a pilot in the United States Army, kind of day.

My instructor said, “Ok Bill, I think we are done here, why don’t you take us home.”

I was the first student of the day, so it was back to the pad, park the bird, switch students and ride around in the back for a couple of hours.

God I was feeling confident!

One of the maneuvers we practiced was hovering autorotation’s. If a helicopters motor quits, you can still fly and land. For a little while anyway. At hover speeds and altitudes, the inertia of the spinning blades offers enough momentum to allow for a gentle touchdown if the engine quits. Wait until you’re just about a foot from the ground, pull pitch, and the helicopter touches down nice and soft.

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