Moving into the Winter months, it can be a little touch and go with the weather. We generally spend our time dodging clouds and drinking copious amounts of tea.
We farewell long time crew member Todd and welcome Glenn, our visiting Instructor.
Happy future flying to our former Instructor, Todd.
A big congratulations is in order for our flight instructor Todd. As of last month, he’s had the opportunity to take up a dream job in New Caledonia! Whilst we’re sad to see him go, we’re happy for the time he had here and the contributions he made to Melbourne Heli over the years. We hope to see him again soon.
Glenn has studied in both Australia and New Zealand, completing his instructor rating in 2012 before moving back to Melbourne. He ran the Falls Creek helicopter operations at Mount Hotham whilst setting up a flight school in the North West region of Victoria. Glenn has operated as a flight instructor for many years, and has served as a quality and safety manager. The man takes a great selfie too.
A few of our students this month deserve a big congratulations for reaching solo flight in their training. It's the first proper milestone in our Aviation careers and is fun to boot. See what our students said about it.
Nat, CPL student
"When I described to my family what it’s like to do a solo circuit I said ‘It’s like your mom driving you to the mall so you can practice driving around the parking lot before the two of you drive home together.’ Except it’s 1000x more rewarding and the ‘car’ is a little more expensive. Soon I’ll be ‘driving to the mall’ all on my own and it’s so surreal and exciting that I’ll be completely solo soon! I love every minute of my training here."
Michael, CPL student
'Yep I was flying solo and I actually felt completely calm, albeit with a greatly heightened sense of awareness that it was me, and only me in control here.
Alex had done the incredible job of taking me from virtually zero helicopter experience a few weeks ago, not even knowing how to start the machine, to being competent to fly it completely on my own. “How was that?!” she asked after joining me in the cockpit (afterwards). “Awesome!” I replied, pretty much summing up how good it felt, “Absolutely awesome”.
David, CPL student
It was time for my first solo flight, a major step in the journey towards becoming a helicopter pilot. My first solo flight was probably the most exciting of them all. It’s where I was able to put all my theory into practice. It consists of successfully completing a take-off, a circuit pattern and a safe landing. The balance and power behind the helicopter felt different with one less person. The helicopter leant back more in the hover and climbed quicker which was a shock to me at first. This all enabled me to gain confidence in my own flight abilities. After my solo city orbit I felt content and ensured I made the right decision in pursuing a career in flying helicopters. The solo flights are when reality kicks in and you know you’re only moments away from being a commercial pilot.
Send us your story
Sharing stories about the industry is one of the best ways to learn and pass on important lessons in the aviation world. If you walk into one of our classrooms at any one time, chances are you'll stumble upon one of our instructors sharing an experience they had. These walls hear all sorts of stories, funny, strange, and sometimes nail biting. We'd love to hear yours.
If you have an experience you'd like to share, send through to firstname.lastname@example.org to feature on the website, or in the next newsletter!
'Radio Silence', by Alex T.
Absolutely everyone struggles with radio. Even fixed wing Captains who want to fly helicopters for fun or for a new career struggle. It's just a part of human nature. The people sitting in the tower are there for your safety. And yes, they may be a little irritated sometimes if you hold down the trigger and proceed to say “Umm” for the next minute or so, but we all have to start somewhere and this is a training environment. Practice makes perfect as they say.
My experience below shows that even if your radio call goes askew, it doesn't mean the world will end. Just give it a go, practice and soon you'll be saying "Wilco" to your friends on a casual basis.
The morning was quite subdued. I strolled over to our little white R22 with my student, getting ready for our first flight of the day. The red R22 next to us already had its occupants. We jumped in, got ready and started up.
The little red helicopter had already started. You could clearly see the instructor having a chat to the student, talking about what to look for on the gauges etc. It's often you find two or three helicopters starting at approximately the same time due to our schedules. It seemed like an ordinary morning.
After our checks were complete, we sat waiting for the red R22 to leave. We heard our fellow helicopter’s call to Air Traffic Control, "Essendon Ground, Helicopter Hotel Foxtrot Uniform, with flight details." Small pause, then the response, "Hotel Foxtrot Uniform, Essendon Ground." We then waited patiently for the details. And waited. And waited. The suspense was felt by the entire Essendon Fields crew on frequency. Suddenly came an almighty "F**K!" And then silence.
The call that came through shortly after was a forced flight details call, muffled by the instructor trying not to laugh. The response from Air Traffic Control sounded the same. I personally was howling with laughter, my student and I struggling to catch our breath for a few minutes until we were able to put in our own call.
It started off the day quite well.
Study Corner: Carburettor Heat
Whilst Carburettor heat is a rather in-depth study, we thought we'd give you the basics and ask a few questions to help get those minds ticking.
In a nutshell, the purpose of carburettor heat is to counteract carburettor icing. Under the right circumstances, carburettor icing can develop within the engine intake around the throttle butterfly valve, causing a blockage and halting the flow of fuel into the engine (we probably needn't state why this isn't the most desirable situation to be in and will simply recommend you try and avoid it). When triggered by the pilot, heated air derived from a shroud placed around the exhaust mixes in with the outside air flowing into the engine intake, thereby heating it and preventing the build up of ice.
How does carburettor icing occur?
To regulate the intake of fuel, engines have in place a butterfly valve operated via the throttle. When the throttle is closed, the valve is directed to close and a Venturi effect (see link below) occurs. This lowers the pressure of the air flowing through it, and with low pressure comes low temperatures. Add in the natural water vapour that exists within the air and you risk that air solidifying into ice. This ice attaches itself to the valve and surrounding surfaces and a build up occurs.
How do we stop carburettor icing? Prevention is the best remedy in this case. Apply carburettor heat when you fly with low power settings, and on days where the relative humidity is high. Low temperatures outside don't help, but be wary as we see carburettor icing develop even on days with temperatures up to 30 degrees Celsius. Typically helicopters have a cockpit gauge that allows us to monitor the temperature around the butterfly valve. If the gauge's needle falls into the danger zone, apply carburettor heat.
Which state of flight do we need carburettor heat the most?
List the environmental factors that contribute to carburettor icing.
What is the Venturi effect? This directs you to a video explaining the Venturi effect, with an extra example of how it applies in a pitot tube.