Don’t Yell At Your Co-Pilot

The turbines had been running for a couple of minutes already by now. As I walked out of the hangar, and onto Rotorvation’s apron, I noticed a ground crew member giving the pilot a thumbs up, and then walk away. Sweet! I was convinced I got out there just in time to finally get some shots of the WA Police SA365N “Dauphin” in flight. I stood there patiently waiting for the pilot to run through his endless checklists (apparently the Dauphin has some pretty long ones) before he could take her up into the hover.

a very respectable 86%

While waiting I decided to check my settings by taking some shots while it was still on Terra Firma, since every helicopter has a different rotor RPM, which requires different settings on the camera if one would like a nice blurring of the blades. I noticed the drop in turbine RPM, of which I was convinced was the pilot checking if the spragclutch was working. But to my disappointment, both turbines whirred further and further down, until finally they shut off. Apparently the helicopter had just landed. I swear I didn’t hear him come in, but perhaps I’m just used to the racket the BK117 makes whenever they fly it.

Oh well, I still have two modules left to get those pictures. And if I don’t get them by then, I doubt they’ll change the code on the door at Rotorvation, and if I ask kindly they probably won’t mind me hanging around with my camera. Yes, you read that correctly, just two more modules left! Air law (supposedly the hardest one) and Navigation. Both tough subjects, but since I scored a very respectable 86% on Planning & Performance I have a feeling I’ll do well in Nav too. Planning & Performance had some hard questions, landing you a good five points if done correctly. I was however utterly insulted when I only got four points for two questions I deemed to be five pointers. They made me do two full load sheet and four fuel weight interpolations to get the answer. That’s a five pointer if you’d ask me, but apparently not for CASA. In the end though, to be honest, I don’t really care what “grade” I get, as long as it is a pass. If it’s good enough for CASA, it’s good enough for me.

ten days of study

James, Rotorvation’s ground instructor, took a three-week vacation, so with two weeks of Planning & Performance being taught by a substitute teacher, we were left with one week off. James suggested we could use that week to tackle Human Factors & Limitations if we felt up to it. I had planned to book the exam for Saturday, giving me ten days of study, but unfortunately all the slots on Saturday were already booked. So I did my exam this morning after three days of self-study, and I scored 78%! Some people tend to really struggle with this subject, and I personally think it has to do with underestimating the material. Granted, even now it still feels a lot like “Don’t fly when you’re drunk”“Don’t expect the other aircraft to move out of your way”, and “Don’t yell at your co-pilot”, but they also cover Threat & Error Management, which I thought was quit interesting, all be it pretty vague at times.

At the exam venue, you run into all kinds of people, from pilots, students, mechanics, to flight crew members. So it was a matter of time before I heard about ATPL, or Airline Transport Pilot Licence. Needed if one would like to be Pilot in command on any multi-crew aircraft. So naturally most of us would then be thinking of big airliners, and to be fair, you don’t hear a lot about ATPL helicopter pilots. But there are definitely jobs out there that would require you to hold an ATPL, like flying out to the oil rigs. But it is also considered to be the highest achievable grade of license among civilian aviators. So I’ve added it to my list of things to do after obtaining my CPL. I may not be a fan of lists in general, but I do like this one.

  1. CPL (commercial pilot licence)
  2. Low level endorsement
  3. Sling load endorsement
  4. Turbine endorsement
  5. Night time VFR (visual flight rules)
  6. IREX / Instrument flight qualification
  7. ATPL (airline transport pilot licence)

And somewhere along that list I hope to have accumulated enough flying hours to get my instructor rating as well, which I obviously will not neglect to collect. And of course as many endorsements on different types of helicopter as I can get. The more the better. It’s nice to be doing something with lot’s of potential growth for the future.

still pretending

Other than all that, nothing much has happened since the last time I blogged. Emma’s wedding rings arrived from the States. She opted for two thinner rings to go on each side of the engagement ring. I’m still waiting on my titanium with Jarrah wood inlay ring, also from the States. Strange enough I couldn’t find an Australian place who made Jarrah wood rings.  Also, Zoey was sick for a few days, but she’s a lot more active today. If she hadn’t been I would’ve taken her to the vet (maybe that’s why she’s up and moving about). The kittens are growing well, and Wilson is definitely no longer deaf now that his ears have cleared up. Although, he’s still pretending to be whenever it suits him, just like me.

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