January 2024 News

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Student News

We hope everyone has had a restful start to the year. This month we welcomed back Jason from an overseas trip and Gray from a hard earned month of leave. After a fluster of new licences at the conclusion of last year, we move our attention to the up and comers as well as some returning fliers. Ricky Liu successfully completed his flight review with Glenn in the B206 while Jason Tang also refreshed his abilities and ticked off his own flight review. Turns out the review is the easy bit; locking down Glenn to sign your license seems to be the real challenge. Congratulations Ricky and Jason!

We would also like to welcome back Peter Renshaw to the right seat. After a 10 year hiatus from flying he has been taking to the skies in the R44.

Chris and the team would all like to congratulate Lassi and Sayed Taleb on passing their PPL theory exams. Two weeks in the classroom to cover the whole theory syllabus is not an easy feat and the two passes are a testament to the hard work and dedication you put into your study.

Both Lassi and Sayed were back in the heli as soon as they could to scratch that flying itch and get back to building towards their licenses.

Top: Glenn and Ricky during Ricky’s flight review

Middle: Peter Renshaw being put through his paces over Tullamarine

Bottom: Sayed over Tullamarine fresh out of the PPL theory classroom

Graduate pilot conducting flight review with instructor at Melbourne Heli
Competency training with Melbourne Heli
Helicopter student pilot flying over Melbourne Airport

Healthy Pilot Healthy Flight

It seems that summer has finally decided to arrive, and whilst it is nice to have blue skies and warm beach weather, sometimes we must remember to look after ourselves. In a single engine, single pilot helicopter the pilot is as critical as the turning blades.

Dehydration is a classic threat that most of us will have experienced before. Dizziness, inattentiveness, fatigue and headaches are common symptoms, and if left unattended can develop into loss of consciousness – especially if coupled with a hot environment like the cockpit of a helicopter. Fortunately this threat is easy to mitigate. Drinking water before and after a flight in hot conditions will keep the symptoms at bay. If you are planning a longer navigation flight or multiple legs in a day, it would be wise to take water with you. Just be mindful of stowing your water bottle securely so that it won’t come loose and risk interfering with any controls.

Hand in hand with dehydration comes heat stroke. Prevent the effects of overheating with the age-old mantra slip slop slap. It is very easy to get a nasty sunburn in the cockpit of a helicopter so wear a breathable long sleeve shirt and pants, slip on some shades and slop on some sunscreen. If you forget to bring sunscreen we have plenty at Hangar 7 so please don’t hesitate to ask. In the Cabri G2, the doors can be placed on the string to promote airflow throughout the cabin. If you this would benefit the safety of your flight, please have a conversation with an instructor beforehand and be aware of the limitations an open door will pose on your flying.

On the flip side, it is possible to over-hydrate. In these instances, you may just have to uncomfortably hold on until you land. At the other end of the severity spectrum there is risk of hyponatremia, which can happen if you eat little and drink lots. It presents with very similar symptoms to dehydration which can reinforce water drinking and further lower your sodium concentration.

Fatigue management… the words themselves prompt the drooping of your eyelids. It can be easy to brush aside or minimise, however in all instances, if you find yourself having to fight the urge to drift off, it would be wise to make the no-go or land asap call. We have clear legal and encouraged personal minimums for weather and aircraft condition but in the context of private aviation, fatigue management is completely left to the decision making capacity of the PIC. It is one of the most insidious and overlooked threats which demands self awareness and the ability to step back and make a potentially unpopular decision to ground yourself and your flight. That way you can guarantee there’ll always be a ‘next time’.

Treat your body like you would treat the engine of your aircraft, with a good deal of scrutiny and maintenance. A good adage that I like to use to remind myself of the importance of a healthy body: Passengers have landed airplanes, not helicopters.

Harry King