Flying a helicopter is a unique and exhilarating experience. Purely having the opportunity to hover is worth every penny. In this post, we give you a basic introduction to these awesome flying machines and what it’s like to fly one. Don’t forget that a helicopter flight makes a fantastic Valentine’s gift too!
Learning to fly a helicopter
The most common training helicopter is the R22, manufactured by Robinson Helicopters. It’s a two-bladed, four-cylinder, single-engine light helicopter. The two-seat Robinson R22 was designed in 1973 by Frank Robinson and has been in production since 1979.
This is a basic training aircraft, which is operated directly by push rods, with no hydraulic assistance. They are very sensitive and require a light touch to avoid over-correcting. Therefore mastering the controls of a Robinson R22 Helicopter means that students will not have a problem transitioning to a heavier helicopter.
If you book a helicopter flight with Air Experiences you will more than likely be flying one of these, and our most popular flight is the 30-minute experience. This gives you the perfect amount of time in the air to see just what fun flying a helicopter is!
What to expect on your first helicopter flight
On your first flight you will sit alongside your instructor, who will show you all the controls and instruments before starting the engine. Once the helicopter engine has warmed up, the instructor will raise the collective (this adds power and tilts the blades) and the helicopter will come into the hover. You may hear your instructor talking to air traffic requesting permission to leave the airfield. Then you’re off, pitching the helicopter forward and the machine will set off at speed and start climbing skywards. Your instructor will show you the sights and then after a demonstration, will offer you the chance to fly the helicopter. Excuse the pun, but your time airborne will fly by and you will soon be heading home. Once on the ground, if you want to fly again then the flying school will show you what’s involved in returning for more lessons.
My first helicopter flight
I will never forget my first time hovering in a helicopter. It was amazing – even thousands of flying hours in fixed wing aircraft didn’t prepare me for it.
My first flight in a helicopter was in a Bell 47 (as seen in the TV series MASH) from Oshkosh in the USA, for Air Adventure (the world’s biggest general aviation airshow). I climbed aboard with the rotors running and strapped myself in, went to reach for the door… Hang on! There was no door! The pilot lifted off into the hover and then pushed the control column forward and off we went. Flying around at less than 1000ft with my foot outside on the helicopter’s skid was pretty cool. I felt like a Vietnam soldier, holding my camera as if it was a machine gun.
Flying around was simply stunning, and it’s certainly one of the best ways to see the world in detail. Once I had finished playing soldiers the pilot asked if I wanted a go at flying. The instructor showed me how to control the helicopter and then handed control to me. It was insanely sensitive to fly, but after five minutes I was slowly getting to grips with the controls.
On the way back to the helipad, the pilot showed me some more hovering. I can’t help but be amazed at how a half-ton piece of metal can float in the air. Then it’s a gentle touch down and back to the clubhouse for a coffee.
Order your helicopter experience now!
I can highly recommend a helicopter flight to anyone, young and old. Air Experiences offers 30 minute flights at £195, the perfect gift for him or her this Valentine’s Day.