As the year comes to a close we celebrate all that has come to fruition; thank you to every one who has shared it with us. It’s been a genuine pleasure welcoming new faces to the team, new helicopters to the fleet, and seeing our students succeed. Cheers to a good year of flying.
Congratulations to all the students who snuck in a success before the year’s ending.
Well done John for completing your first solo flight this month. Not a bad Christmas present to yourself mate. Glenn is going to kill me for cutting him out of the photo… John’s success is the important thing here Glenn.
A big congratulations to Maurice for gaining his Private Pilot Licence at the beginning of the month.
Another Commercial Pilot joins the ranks this month. Compliments to James for doing so well on his flight test. Looking forward to seeing you in the sky.
Well done to Glenn for passing his Private Pilot Licence. Not to be confused with instructor Glenn. Glenn has done exceptionally well in gaining his Private Pilot Licence.
Napoleon Brewery Yarra Valley
A new tour to Napoleon Brewery in the Yarra Valley is available (pictured below). I flew my family in to Napoleon for the first time a few weeks back; a belated birthday present for my Dad. I highly recommend it, particularly new pilots who would like to practice going in and out of wineries. It’s not too far from Melbourne and easy to locate so long as you’re familiar with Lilydale Airport. The lading area is an open and grassy with a clear takeoff run to the north. The restaurant there, ‘Meletos’ serves some lovely food and there’s a providore to explore after lunch. If you’re after an afternoon of nibbles and tea there’s a large outdoor space with tables and chairs; perfect for those lofty summer afternoons. We’ve made it a regular tour at Melbourne Heli. More details for the restaurant can be viewed here, or check out our flight here
I was given the opportunity to fly in an Agusta AW109. The experience was brilliant. I felt those ‘oh my gosh I’m flying in a helicopter’ butterflies again, even though I’ve been at this for a few years now. I was very much taken with the tech on board, it’s part of the reason I thought having a job flying helicopters would be so great, you get to play with all the cool stuff. The pilot flying made the observation that at some stage in our careers we can get a little disheartened with the industry and perhaps even a little bored. This is usually due to the fact that we don’t immediately step into machines like the Agusta after training and are most likely going to spend a few years flying the small machines we learnt in. The experience served as a good reminder of what I want to achieve in my career and I’m glad for the fact. It pushed me to reexamine the types of roles I should aim for and the endorsements I should gain to put me on my chosen path, a notion that had fallen a little by the wayside.
I’ve spoken with a few new-ish pilots who have been unsure of what the next step may be. They have in their minds what they might like along the way, but don’t have a clear path drawn. If you are unsure of what you’re looking to do or perhaps your perception of what you’d like has changed after working in the industry for a while, it’s of benefit to ask yourself where you’d like to end up and in what kind of role. Knowing yourself and the kinds of positions you’d thrive in will help achieve satisfaction in the long run and help you later down the track in landing those dream jobs. My advice is to investigate.
Your dream job might require a particular kind of flight experience, which needless to say is worth knowing. Aim for jobs and endorsements along the way that will earn you the required experience. Speak to someone knowledgeable in the industry to find out which positions would suit best (or come in and chat with us), and choose your companies wisely; often the size and dynamic of a company will either help or hinder your goals. Decide what kind of role within a company you would work best with, this may not be an all-flying all the time kind of role, but something in administration or development. You may be the kind of person who needs their skills to be constantly challenged to feel satisfied, in which case a more complex type of flying will be your jam; mountain flying, or sling work could be a good fit. Regardless of the goal, there’s no time like the present to start working for it. Who knows instructing might be what you’d like to do, in which case we prefer chocolate biscuits with our tea and never say no to baked goods.
Safety Corner: Downwash
Part of a pilot’s awareness when flying extends beyond the helicopter. We focus on various things; wind, tracking, and airspace to name a few. An important factor that has the potential to fall by the wayside is the position and strength of a helicopter’s downwash.
Downwash is the deflection of air in the vertical plane, caused by the blades alongside the production of lift; it is a significant force. When a helicopter is close to the ground the strength of the downwash will not only increase, given that hovering requires the most power, but veer out across the ground. The danger surrounds objects within the downwash zone; sand can blow up and impair spacial awareness, buildings can be damaged, and debris can injure those standing close by. We are taught to avoid the prop blast from aeroplanes for similar reasons, though there seems to be less significance placed on rotor downwash.
This is perhaps due to the notion that a pilot’s focus in a hover can be exhausted on manoeuvring the helicopter itself, given that it takes a higher level of concentration. Or perhaps the feeling of being in a bubble masks the effect. In any case, a diversion of focus from the external environment can have alarming repercussions.
Wind direction and strength play a large part in the severity and reach; objects downwind from a operating helicopter will feel the effects much more so than if they were on the opposite side, and things that may seem outside the danger zone can be affected give a strong enough wind. Learning to cultivate sound airmanship in decision making and the ability to focus on the scene as a whole is the best way to avoid this particular danger.
Anticipation is key to minimise the risk. Noting a few things when taking off and landing will minimise the risk of downwash damage.
Proximity to other aircraft, objects in the landing zone, and buildings must be carefully considered.
Note where the wind is coming from. Things that are downwind from you will be in more danger; sometimes it’s better to wait until the area is clear before you land or takeoff.
Keep your eyes outside in the hover. This not only improves handling skills but allows pilots an awareness of the outside environment.
Make your intentions as clear as possible when taking off and landing so as to help others in your area. This comes in the form of aircraft lights, radio calls and your classic ‘all clear’ call before you start the engine.