Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Helicopter Lessons

So lots has happened over the past couple of weeks. Everyone knows I was planning a big trip to Asia, Work didn't grant me the time off with any real notification making that trip next to impossible. So I got a little depressed, ended up buying a newer pickup I am still not sure I could afford and dreaming of my dream trip yet again. I decided on Sunday I was going to find work in vegas and move after a couple of potential job offers at local dealerships, hell why not? Just how hard can it be to find work in the second worst state for unemployment in the nation? So I spent the past couple of days scanning help wanted ads seeing what would suit me and for no apparent reason going along with my here and there mind I somehow decided to get a commercial pilots license flying a helicopter, yea I know how that one came to be is beyond me. Thus far in life my only knowledge of a helicopter comes from watching Airwolf but it does not seem like it could be that difficult of a piece of equipment to handle, after all, unlike a plane you can just hover in it.
So I called this morning and got an appointment to take an expeditionary flight at the local airport. The ad promised a little stick time and some actual training before flight, sounds like fun I thought, fast forwarding in my mind to flying aid in and out of some disaster ridden town in the middle of a Jungle. I arrived at the airpot dressed a little nicer than I would have liked just leaving a job interview. I was greeted by a smiling lady instructor wiht hair pulled back tight in a flight jump suit. She promptly went straight to business starting with pre flight paperwork and going over the fundamentals of the helicopter with me.
"Whoa whoa whoa" I exclaimed, just how much is this costing me? she names her price, I thought surely I had misunderstood her so I replied "you mean 1025" she shook her head, only if you want, yea hum no I will go with what I think you said. So we continue with the paperwork, I bore her with my usual managerie of questions, both relevant and well off the wall.
We then continue out to the flight pad and get in a golf cart, wait wait this is getting to be a bit to real, golf cart? You mean I get shuttled important person style to the Bird?
Yup apparently so, she starts out by looking over her shoulder and driving forward, and the solution to this was blatantly obvious to me "You want me to drive to the Bird?" I asked grinning ear to ear. Ok so flipping the instructor crap before take off may not have been my brightest Idea but I suspect you expect it from me at this point in life. We do all the pre flight inspections, and all can think of is how can I fold myself into this little Bird? well upon entering the cockpit, wait, backup after three adjustments of my boys to fold myself into the cockpit we start all the preflight jargin with instruments and the like. Now the big part, radio talk, shit, I cant hear it, the motor is roaring and the Bird is shaking, She asks for a second flight path and apparently its confirmed as we start to lift off. Man lemme tell ya seeing the ground move away while you move straight up is an odd feeling, my stomach somewhat sunk and my hands were dripping sweat. We moved across the runway and lifted up, radio blather chirping in my ear I watched the earth fall away as the roters pushed the air beneath us.
We continued on with more instruction and a "go ahead and grab the stick" grab what? my mind had been swirling so much IM not sure I understood what the actual name of the stick was but in my excited mind that was what I heard, I steered the bird around, following her instructions "Make sure you control it, do not let it control me" as it tipped hard right and I fouond myself wondering if we could just fall out of the sky with my inexperience, her calm voice guided us back with Im sure a bit of her gentle touch as here hand was right there the entire time. I watched the gauges and learned I had a lonnnnggg way to go until I was able to fly by the seat of my pants. I was happy about one thing though, it wente better than flying on the video games where I always seemed to crash, well not on a helicopter, never tried one before on a game that I remember, but I do recall thinking on airplane flight simulators I was happy they were not the real thing or rather it was not a simulator. after we passed over the water tower I commented on checck point one being reached, I can save the game now :P
We flew to the airport with her taking full control again shortly before landing. We then practiced the hovering which I thought would be easy bt oh hell no, keeping that little bugger in one spot proved very difficult, a little this way mment a lot, a little that way ment a lot more that way, ironically enough my arm actually burned from holding it up as the stick was so light it was almost like balancing a pencil on your finger. She would finally land the bird and I would be left with my mind scrambling to decide if I had enjoyed the experience or not. To be sure I am grateful; for it but it was unlike anything I had ever tried, no piece of equipment compared, but I can say this, as odd as it may sound it was like losing your virginity, a new experience that was a little unusual with a promising future after you get used to it.
Not sure where to take it from here, hopefully I can move down, find some work and go fly into a jungle dropping supplies to some remote village, not holding my breath, but I am in the meantime going to focus on yet another hobby I really cannot afford, what the hell, that is what life is all about isn't it? Tasting life, one dish at a time.

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