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March/April 2018

The winter that just won't end is finally looking like it's coming to a close. It's been a very busy Spring at Rotorworks and we are now starting to catch up. We have a few successful flight tests to congratulate, a first solo and a quick recap on map reading.

Big congratulations to Rick, Corey and Jackie! All three are now commercial rated helicopter pilots.
Congratulations to Harold who took the R22 for his first solo flight last month.

Map Reading


You all know how fond of paper maps were are at Rotorworks. We can't deny that GPS is an incredibly helpful tool but it is a tool that, although unlikely, can be shut off without notice. Your GPS could run out of battery, refuse to boot up in the morning because it's too cold or switch itself off because its too hot (take note of the last one for all those flying around using ForeFlight on an Ipad). Your trusty old paper map will be sitting there ready to go whenever you need it.
It's very easy to get a false sense of security when using GPS. You know exactly where you are at any given time anywhere on the globe but do have the whole picture?

Lets say you've been flying along your route for the last hour and the visibility has slowly been decreasing. Your fancy GPS shows you exactly on track but do you know what to expect along your route if the weather continues to deteriorate?
 
  
A GPS screen is usually zoomed in to show just a small portion of your route and even when not the terrain information is often minimal compared to a paper map. Is the terrain ahead climbing? Will you be able to get over it in deteriorating weather? Is there a road/river/train track/pipeline you can follow if needed? It's these details that are hard to find on a GPS screen.
Map Tips

Before you leave for your flight send some time with your map. Know what you are looking for on both sides of your track (for some reason pilots seem to forget there is also a window on the left side of the helicopter).

If your using roads, pipelines or rail tracks it is often easier to look for the cut line in the trees to find them. Take note of the angle they make with your track. It's a really helpful check to make sure the line you are looking at is the one you think it is.

If your looking for rivers don't look for water. Look for the dark tree snaking across the ground. Watch the banks for cut lines in the trees. You will likely see those long before you can see the power line crossing the river.

Have a look at the hyposymmetric tinting along your route. With a little practice you will start to see your map in 3D and have a much easier time matching the ground to the map and the map to the ground.


 
Refresher

602.101 The pilot-in-command of a VFR aircraft arriving at an uncontrolled aerodrome that lies within an MF area shall report
(a) before entering the MF area and, where circumstances permit, shall do so at least five minutes before entering the area, giving the aircraft’s position, altitude and estimated time of landing and the pilot-incommand’s arrival procedure intentions;
(b) when joining the aerodrome traffic circuit, giving the aircraft’s position in the circuit;
(c) when on the downwind leg, if applicable;
(d) when on final approach; and
(e) when clear of the surface on which the aircraft has landed.
If you have a spare 20 minutes we highly recommend watching this video. It is taken from American Airlines training session on how automated our aircraft are becoming and what you as a pilot can do to stay in control. Obviously the level of automation for these tube drivers is way above ours but every new helicopter type is becoming more reliant on automation.
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