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flight school again

Today I had an evening flight. I got about half an hour of day time, and one hour of night unaided. It’d be just another Saturday, except for one thing: tonight’s flight was in a Cessna 172.

It’s a funny thing, flying a small reciprocating single-engine plane after becoming used to a dual turbine helicopter. On the one hand, I’m infinitely better at flying this Cessna than I was a decade ago when I first took flight lessons. Air sense turns out to be a skill transferable between modes of flight. Landing, which was once a chancy gamble, is now fairly straightforward. I’ll want a bit of practice before I attempt a solo, but so far everything’s been startlingly easy.

On the other hand, a Black Hawk is just a much more powerful high-performance aircraft. It’s not just that the helicopter has enough cargo capacity to slingload a pair of the 172s–we could, though it’d be a bad idea to attempt any speed much faster than a hover–the power difference shows up in the general performance and handling. On the job, a typical cruising speed is between 120 and 145 knots. The hydraulic system ensures the flight controls offer no resistance regardless of conditions, and the enormous control surface area means that tiny movements are translated into near-instantaneous responses. At the flying club, the aircraft might make 120 knots in a dive, but a more typical speed in level flight is around 105. The controls all feel a bit mushy: they require both larger inputs and actual muscle. Of course, the simplicity and low-powered nature of the 172 are what make it cheap enough for me to be able to fly recreationally, so I can’t really complain.

What I really want is to start collecting ratings. To get an FAA rotary to fixed-wing transition, I need few enough hours that I’m certain to have my private pilot’s license before I leave Korea, and probably my instrument license as well. Once I’ve got both of those and the commercial rating, I can start looking into upgrading, getting into higher-performance aircraft. Hopefully by that point my salary will have risen to where I can afford them.

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1 Comment

2010-02-11 19:40:29

Isn’t is funny how skills transfer from one mode of flight to the other.


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