I am a 20-year-old college student in southeastern North Carolina. I just wanted to say that I thoroughly enjoyed your article on efforts to improve safety management ("A Few Steps More," September 2006, page 30). It was refreshing to know that someone else out there is trying to make a difference in one of the weakest parts of emergency services these days.
I am a fireman and my last statement might be a little rough, although I am sure you can relate in some sense. My boss and I were having this conversation the other day and to read it in an aviation magazine merely hours later was refreshing. I am still very young and believe I can change the world. So thank you for your honest effort in educating the masses.
Frank and the R22
I write in response to your Question of the Month for September 2006, "Does Frank Robinson's proposal for flight schools to replace R22s with the R44 make sense to you?"
First, as a novice to flying, I enjoy each issue of Rotor & Wing, with the feedback from seasoned veterans and interesting and informative articles in this specialized field.
I dreamed of flying helicopters since I saw my first chopper when I was 5 years old. I carried this dream with me until I was 47, when I noticed a different looking helicopter flying over the interstate upon returning home from a business trip. I had some extra time and stopped at the FBO where the helicopter landed. I went in and talked to the owner who happened to be the helicopter instructor. I asked questions and learned that the helicopter he was using was an R22 Beta. I scheduled an introductory flight and I was hooked.
I did not have a pilot's license or any previous flying experience. My instructor pleaded with me to take lessons in an airplane to defray costs but I had, and still have, no desire to fly an airplane. This was coming out of my pocket and I was determined to learn to fly a helicopter and get my pilot's certificate.
Learning to control the R22 was more of a challenge than I anticipated. I generally had little problems adapting to anything I did and was at a point, during the third flight, that I thought I might not be able to learn to fly this #%*! helicopter. It was during the fourth flight that things started to come together and I was finally learning how to control the helicopter with slight pressures rather than abrupt control inputs. I was also fortunate to have one of the finest military pilots for an instructor, who is also a great R22 pilot.
The bottom line is Frank Robinson afforded me an opportunity to learn how to fly a helicopter when there would have been no other way than in the R22. I also believe that learning in an R22 offers a pilot the opportunity to learn what a "low inertia" rotor system truly is. Learning from a well-qualified R22 pilot forced me to pay attention to every detail, not only to survive but also to be the best helicopter pilot I can be during any flight. I have since flown the phenomenal R44 Raven and attended Robinson's safety course, and I eagerly await additional training to become a qualified commercial helicopter pilot. While I now only have a few hours over 100 total in the helicopter, I feel that taking away the R22 as a training tool for any new student pilots would not afford them the opportunity to experience everything you could do wrong as a helicopter pilot. (The R22 is also a great flying helicopter.)
I do understand Frank Robinson's reasoning for using the R44 instead of the R22 for safety reasons, but you have got to experience the R22. After meeting Frank at the safety course, I learned that he is truly concerned about each and every pilot, especially the ones that fly helicopters built by Robinson.
My hat is off to Frank Robinson and R&W magazine.
Mt. Morris, Ill.
Frank is crazy. The R22 is a great machine to learn in. In 1994, I had 1,000 hr in fixed-wing (tail draggers) and decided to switch to rotor wing. I learned in an R22.
It was the most unstable thing I ever climbed in. The first 10 hr, I could not keep the machine in a football field. In 15 hr, I could do anything I wanted.
When you learn to master the fast-acting machine, you can fly any piston-powered helo. I have flown Bells, Hillers, and Schweizers, and they are easy to fly. If you are smooth with a R22, you have learned to fly.
We Stand Corrected
Your most recent issue features a short piece on page 12 regarding the U.S. Army UH-60M and the fact that the flight management system is made by Canadian Marconi ("U.S. Army's UH-60M Joins The Black Hawk Family," September 2006, page 12).
Please note that the correct company name is CMC Electronics. This has been the company name since April 2001, before which it was Canadian Marconi.
Communications and Public Relations Manager
R&W's Question of the Month
What do you think the FAA's focus on enhanced operational control will mean for you and your operations? (See story on page 8.)
Let us know, and look for your and others' responses in a future issue. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.