Sunday, November 18, 2012

Bell Beginnings

This past week Duncan has been at the Bell Helicopter training facility near Dallas, Texas, learning from the horse's mouth how to fly the 206L3, or Long Ranger. A 7 seat, turbine-powered helicopter, this is what SIL operate in Papua New Guinea.
Some of the Bell Helicopter fleet
The first half of the week was all ground school - learning the technical side of the aircraft. Bell certainly have a good facility, with plenty of bits of helicopter to get your hands on and a maintenance training aircraft in the hanger to see how it all fits together. Then came the fun part...
Brian (my instructor) and me
Most of the time was devoted to what to do in the unlikely event that things mechanical stop working the way the designer at Bell intended. Time was spent practising what to do when the pedals stop working (no, you don't have to pedal to keep the aircraft airborne) but most of the time was used landing safely following an untimely engine failure. Brian certainly opened my eyes as to what was possible (safely) in a Long Ranger.

The Bell Practise Area

Brian failed the engine in just about every location imaginable, and each time we manged to land back on the runway with the aircraft still in a state that we could go and do it all again. We did engine failures on take-off and approach, and just about everywhere in between. I think the most interesting was from very close-in downwind: flare the speed off, pedal turn and then accelerate (all within 800') was a new technique!
 Each runway had the yellow aiming squares on it - each square is 12m x 12m (40' x 40')
As time progressed, Brian expected me to vary the flightpath such that we landed in the square he designated. Brian could land and stop in a square of his chosing! Me ... more like one or the other; but it was a lot of fun! And good training too, of course.

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