Discovery Flights – The Briefing
When you decide to take flying lessons as an aviation enthusiast, or for a career it can be difficult to know where to start. We always recommend you start with a discovery flight (familiarization flight). This exciting first flight will cover the first lesson of your pilot licence, the Effects of the Controls, and give you an opportunity to fly the helicopter!
The Discovery Flight consists of a 20 to 30 minute ground briefing followed by 30 minutes in the helicopter. Read on to learn more about the experience of a life time!
Framework of a Discovery Flight:
- The Ground Briefing
- Your First Flight
The Ground Briefing
After an introduction with the instructor, you will go into the classroom to begin your first lesson (approximately half an hour).
The instructor will describe the layout of the cockpit, controls and instrument panel of the helicopter. The view in front of the helicopter will be described with reference to the horizon’s position in regards to the datum or reference line (top of the instrument panel). Flying is very visual and getting a thorough understanding of the reference line is critical.
The instruments on the panel are there to provide essential flight information, however outside references should still be your main focus. Just like you use your speedometer in your car from time to time to monitor speed; you would scan between your outside reference and inside instrument indications.
On the floor, you will see two pedals; they control the angle of pitch of the tail rotor blades, to counteract the torque produced by the main rotor blades. Without the tail rotor (anti-torque rotor), the main blades would spin one way and the fuselage would spin the other way. For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. The pedals enable the pilot to control the yaw, to keep the fuselage straight or to turn the helicopter in one spot in a hover.
On American made helicopters, the blades turn counter clockwise, which means that when you increase the torque, you need to add left pedal and when you reduce the torque, you need to add right pedal.
On your left side, you will see a big lever called the collective, with a throttle at the end of it. The throttle controls the engine RPMs, you increase the throttle by turning it outward and you decrease it by turning it inward. In Robinson helicopters the engine RPMs are controlled by a governor, so you won’t have to utilize it during this flight.
The collective controls the pitch of the blades all at the same time, or collectively. Therefore, increasing or decreasing lift. To put it simply, lift the collective and the helicopter goes up (houses get smaller!), reduce it and the helicopter goes down (houses get bigger!).
The other control is the cyclic, which is normally attached to the floor between the pilot’s legs; in the case of the Robinson helicopter, between the two front seats, with a T bar on top.
The cyclic got its name because it controls the pitch of the blades as they go around the cycle. The cyclic controls the attitude of the helicopter and enables the pilot to turn, go forward, backwards or in any direction required. In a hover, the cyclic controls the position of the helicopter over the ground.
Prior to the flight, you will receive a safety briefing on around and inside the helicopter.
A briefing on the proper control handover procedure in flight will also be discussed. To avoid confusion as to whom is actually flying the aircraft we use the phrases below.
Pilot flying “You have control”;
Pilot taking over controls “I have control”;
Original flying pilot “You have control”.