August 2019 News

Home News August 2019 News

This month read about a past student’s experience dealing with a pressured situation, the safety in aborting pick ups, and our new PPL theory course.

Everyone needs a holiday sometimes right?

Alex T is heading over to New Zealand for a few weeks in August, Gray is planning his own venture up north, and Sophie is heading away for work for three months, her return date set for the end of October. 

David “Flacky” Flack, CPL(H) Having a student gain a licence is almost a monthly tradition at the moment. Well done to Mr. David Flack for putting in the hard yards this past year (below left) and completing your Commercial Licence. David’s next step is road tripping down the Great Ocean Road to visit prospective employers, perfect timing coming soon into spring. A few more honourable mentions go out to our students this month, George and Adrian for taking the helm and flying solo, great work gents.

Melbourne Heli's full time PPL(H) theory course


This year Melbourne Heli will be running a small group, full-time PPL(H) theory course.

The course will commence in September and run for two weeks. It will be full-time, Monday to Friday with classes at 8.30 am – 4.00 pm. Students will need to plan some home study in addition to the classes (in other words we’re giving you homework).

The final PPL(H) exam can be completed at anytime after the course, either at the Melbourne Heli base or at a CASA exam centre.

Chief Pilot Chris Wakefield will largely be at the helm running the classes with guest appearances from all the Melbourne Heli Instructors.

There are currently 3 spaces available, get in quick to secure your spot. Enquiries can be made at

A few bits and bobs

We have a new machine.

A worthy addition to the Newsletter. Melbourne Heli has a new coffee machine to add to the kitchen. Now serving eco friendly coffee with ‘proper’ frothed milk. Melbournians get excited.

The ‘Standby’ list on Timely.

If you’ve missed out on booking your preferred time and date for lessons, it’s always worth putting yourself on our standby list here, or checking in with us at the office as cancellations do happen.

A small note on arrivals.

We understand daily life can throw us curveballs and appointments will be pushed back, though under normal circumstances we must insist on a timely arrival for lessons. Being here for the full duration of a lesson ultimately turns out the best results for students and ensures a smooth(er) days flying for everyone.

Safety Corner: Two Stage and Aborted Pick-ups.

We practice a two stage pick up to control our heading, monitor how much power is required for the weight we carry, and to aid in familiarity with control inputs. The goal here is not only to achieve a smooth lift off and develop an understanding of the controls, but also to identify possible dangers; namely Dynamic Rollover. Slow and steady wins the race in this manoeuvre (as in most helicopter manoeuvres), our inputs should be subtle.

Think of it like your initiation into driving a car. You start slow, typically in a parking lot to get a feel for the effect of your inputs. When you feel as though you’re aware and in control of the movements, you can speed up. The two stage pickup is a little like this. We start by increasing the manifold pressure by raising the collective slowly. When we’re ‘light’ on the skids, in other words when we feel as though we’re about to lift off, we halt for a moment and evaluate the situation. Are we turning slightly to the right? Is one side lifting more than the other? Are the skids (or wheels) clear of anything catching. This short pause allows us to make any small adjustments to our controls, allowing for a safe lift off. Here is the time to abort the pick up if need be. If a catch on the skids is felt, if we don’t have authority over the tail rotor, or if we simply feel more comfortable starting again, the course of action is to lower the collective.

This leads us into the second stage, lifting off the ground. After adjusting for a balanced lift off, we raise the collective a little more and shift into the hover. Whist we should be prepared beforehand in knowing our power limits for the day, in holding a hover here we’ll have a feel for the amount that’s required given the weight and atmospheric conditions, we double check by monitoring our manifold pressure gauge. As hovering requires some of the biggest power inputs, it’s the ideal time to check.


What actions do we take to control and remedy Dynamic Rollover?


A Navigation gone wrong, by David B.

It all started out fine. An hour or so planning a pretty straight forward solo navigation was time well spent. 

The plan was to leave from Essendon, up to Kalkallo, follow the Hume Highway to Wallan and Broadford. Make a right turn for Glenburn and then head south to line up for the Lilydale runway. I’d catch a few breaths here before I’d pick up and head back to Essendon.The weather was a little cloudy with showers of drizzle, though nothing too threatening.

After a pre-flight briefing with Kyran and a quick review of procedures it was off to the helicopter to get started. My daily pre-flight inspection, fuel drain, and start ups were all good so far. I called the tower, “Essendon Ground this is helicopter Whiskey Tango Tango at hangar 7 apron for Kalkallo with Charlie. Request taxi and airways clearance from tower helipad”. I hear their response, “Whiskey Tango Tango unable to give you Kalkallo. Cleared Tower Helipad to Doncaster not above one thousand five hundred. Taxi and Hold short of helipad”. First hiccup – I don’t want to go to Doncaster, I want to go to Kalkallo! Quick rethink of that plan.

I take off and head towards Doncaster, turn left over Eltham and straight onto the Water Tanks. I follow the power lines heading North West and finally spot the Kalkallo comms tower in the distance. Big deep breath; I am back on track. I fly up the Hume HWY and through the Kilmore gap to look for Broadford. There it is! I make the right turn at Broadford, get my bearings and head for Strath’s creek. I run through the CLEAROFF checklist in preparation for landing, all is clear.

Glance down at the instrument panel about 2 minutes later and what the heck! What is that warning light? And why is it on?

Auxiliary Fuel Pump – I do a quick mental review, it’s important but not critical. Thank god I don’t have to ditch out here. I check the circuit breakers and sure enough one of them has popped. I push it back in and it pops out immediately, I guess the auxiliary fuel pump has failed. Decision time. Do I fly on to Lilydale or do I do a U-turn and head home quickly? I decide to head home; after all this is my first emergency and I don’t want it to end badly.

As I approach Kalkallo I contact Essendon Tower to request clearance to the Tower Helipad. I hear back,“Whiskey Tango Tango remain outside class Charlie airspace. Will get back to you.” Or words to that effect. “Whiskey Tango Tango We are going to bring you in via Melbourne. Contact Melbourne Tower on 120.5 for clearance”.

Melbourne Tower… Surely he can’t mean Tullamarine International Airport? I’m just a trainee pilot in a tiny little R44 Helicopter. They don’t have them at Tullamarine. Shirley he can’t be serious! But he was! I Switch to 120.5. “Melbourne Tower this is helicopter Whiskey Tango Tango at Kalkallo, one thousand five hundred, for Essendon, with Delta. Request airways clearance.” After being asked to wait outside class Charlie airspace, I was eventually told “Track direct Melbourne, not above one thousand five hundred”. So through the drizzling rain I headed towards the Tullamarine Air Traffic control tower. “Whiskey Tango Tango track to the 27 threshold. Remain at one thousand five hundred. Contact Essendon Tower overhead. Be aware there is a Jetstar Boeing 737 about to land. Be careful of Jetwash”. Jetwash, What?! Where was this in the flight manual.

As instructed I proceeded over the 27 threshold, just behind a JetStar 737 that landed right in front of me. I hold it steady as the Jetwash hits. Thankfully it wasn’t much; a small amount of turbulence but nothing to get upset about.

After arriving back at Essendon I went through the shutdown procedure and climbed out to head inside. Wow! I thought. I rerouted successfully, survived my first emergency, I got to fly over Tullamarine and nobody died! Not bad for a trainee. 

So what did I learn. 

  1. Don’t panic – You have done the training; you know what to do.

  2. Evaluate the situation – Determine what has gone wrong and what the appropriate course of action is, and then proceed.

  3. Air Traffic are there to help. Listen to their instructions, ensure you understand, then follow them.

  4. Tullamarine is just another airport. Admittedly it’s bigger, busier, with bigger planes than Essendon, but it still works on the same principals. Follow the instructions and listen to what is being said.

  5. If things don’t go according to plan; make the most of it anyway.

Happy Flying.