Thursday, March 10, 2011

Overdue and Far Over the Ground!

So I'm very overdue in posting something new, especially if I'm going to be keeping up with my "one picture worthy event a month" goal. Well, as I already said, February was HELICOPTER FLYING!!! That's right - flying. None of this tour stuff. Actually flying a helicopter myself.  Booyeah.

Ages and ages ago (ok maybe like last april), a phenominal group-on came up for helicopter flying lessons. They were marketing it as a Father's day gift and I guess it worked, cause I picked up 2 - one for me and one for my Daddy! The company was East Coast Aero Club and for $70 each, we were going to get to FLY helicopters. SCORE.  I think they had sold like 1200 by noon and by 3 they were sold out with something like 2000 groupons sold.  It was the most amazing groupon feat I've ever seen. Long story short, it took a while until my Pops and I could make it work to come up here, but 2 weekends ago we finally made it happen!

First though was HOMEWORK?!?!?! We had probably 10 hours of reading to do (if you really studied super hard) from various books and manuals to learn about how helicopters work, the controls, our specific helicopter (the R44 shown below) and the airfield that we were going to be at. Ok so the engineer in me is about to come out. Something I thought that was really cool is how the lift on the blades is created. Obviously, some is from the air foil passing through the blades and being pushed down. The other part is the Bernoulli effect - when the air goes over the blades it causes pressure changes that make a vaccuum that sucks the blades up. Ok, so you probably knew this, but did you know that the Bernoullie effect makes up 2/3 of the lift of the helicopter?!?! Two thirds! I was shocked! Anyways, meet the R44:

So after we did our homework, it was classtime! We were supposed to have about a 2-3 hour class to go over the material we read and make sure we really understood it. And then...duh duh duh...a test! Now, I have to say, even I was a little nervous about this test, so I couldn't blame my Dad for being really nervous. He totally understood ALL the mechanical parts though! Silly goose <3  Our instructor finally showed up and because it was the long holiday weekend, we had accidentally been locked out of the lecture room. And guess what was locked IN the lecture room - that's right! The tests!!!  Wooohooohooo! We were all stoked but told "just pay attention :) "  PHEW.

Next cool helicopter fact: if you loose your power, your engine just kinda disconnects from the blades and you float down. It's called autorotation and you can travel about a mile that way. So kinda hard to crash. Neat, yeah?

Next morning.... the day of the class... We're both getting psyched, doing silly little Kelly dances while my Mom grades papers in the hotel room. We drive to the airport, attempt to drive through the Air Force base and are kindly redirected. And BAM! Our dreamy sweedish instructor is there ready to go! We get a refresher on the controls, a tour of all the parts and in we go!  Now let me tell you, this helicopter is SMALL. It's all fiberglass and the doors feel paper thin. You're basically in a bubble up there.

Flying was incredible. We couldnt have had a better day for it. It was gorgeous weather and we could even see Boston downtown (we were about 40 minutes away). There's a kinda long startup list that you have to go through to get the copter ready for flight. So Dreamy helped us (my Dad went first) find all the controls and do things properly. Then he called into the tower, we were cleared for takeoff and there we went! So different than being in a plane! I got to ride in the back for my Dad and him for me, so we each got extra time in the heli. So once we were a bit away from the airport we were handed off controls one by one from the instructor. My Dad was AWESOME. So so smooth. Then we did some turns, then some steeper turns and that was about it. Probably 25 mintues up in the air but it goes so fast! Now turning, turning is a bit terrifying. You bank pretty far over and are basically looking through this plexiglass bubble right down to the ground below you. Freakkkkky at first, but then just really cool.

It was awesome to get to be a passenger and a pilot because you can relax a little more in the back. In the front you have to concentrate super hard. There are 3 different controls and you're trying to watch the horizon and for traffic and be smooth. It's a lot to think about the first time but I could definitely see myself getting into it. And definitely maybe my Dad in all seriousness.  So some more pictures from the heli:

Overall, AMAZING experience!!! Even without the groupon price, I would definitely recommend it. I mean, come on, how many people can say they've FLOWN a helicopter? I CAN BITCHES. Total bucket list task that's been taken over. So yes, go, fly! Enjoy it!

Soar Soar Soar!

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