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Mike does his JetBox rating

IMG_0163 copywritten by good friend and fellow aviator Mike Bathurst

Regular readers of Joel’s blog may be aware that I was one of the unfortunate (or perhaps fortunate) souls on board G-LADZ, our Enstrom 480, that was brought to an undignified unplanned landing south of London a few weeks ago with a main rotor gearbox failure. Anyone involved with helicopters (or indeed most forms of private aviation) will be aware that you can’t just pop down to Halfords for a ‘new bit’ and therefore it seemed I was likely to be on ground-only duty for quite some time whilst waiting for Enstrom to send us some new cogs that didn’t make the same hideous grinding noise when they spun around. I needed something to do. Continue reading

Oh G-D, I have to have one of these!!

Aspen Avionics EFD 100H

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Aspen Avionics maker of the award-winning Evolution Flight Display System, have announced their first offering for the rotary wing market: the EFD1000H Pro Helicopter PFD. The first STCs for the EFD1000H Pro Helicopter PFD will cover the Bell 206 Jet Ranger and Long Ranger, and the AS350 (Squirrel) , with planned availability in November 2009, at a list price of $14,995.  Aspen is working on additional STCs to cover the most popular piston and turbine light helicopters, and will announce planned availability dates in the near future.

Based on the same proven state-of-the-art technologies as its fixed-wing products, the EFD1000H Pro PFD Helicopter delivers a large attitude indicator with airspeed and altitude tapes, an altitude alerter and altitude trend vector.  It also includes a full electronic HSI with dual bearing pointers and symbolic moving map with flight plan waypoints and leg overlays.  When connected to a GPS navigator, the Pro Helicopter PFD also presents a full-time visual indicator of winds aloft direction and speed.

The EFD1000H uses Aspen’s proven, highly-integrated Air Data, Attitude and Heading Reference System (ADAHRS), contained in a small three-inch diameter can on the back of the display, reducing weight, and installation time and expense.  Aspen’s latest ADAHRS software is enhanced to support the unique flight dynamics of rotary wing aircraft.  This helicopter version also comes with a vibration-isolating flush mount kit, which, combined with the inherent resilience of electronic gyros, promises years of trouble-free performance in the harsh, high-vibration helicopter operating environment.

Aspen’s high-resolution, ultra-bright, glare-resistant LCD display is clearly visible even in direct sunlight, and this latest version of the EFD1000 supports extended dimming down to extremely low light levels. Aspen is also working on a version of the EFD1000H that will support operations requiring use of night vision goggles (NVGs).  New versions of the Evolution Remote Sensor Module (RSM) offer greater flexibility in mounting locations to simplify helicopter installation.

I have got to have one of these !!!!! (John P and Steve H, do you think they’ll do a deal for three?)

Private Landing Sites (and rip off landing fees)

G-EWAW at Swinton Park Hotel

G-EWAW at Swinton Park Hotel

I go all over the place and I try to land at to my actual destination rather than the nearest airfield. There’s little point and less fun otherwise! If I’ve got the choice of where my meeting might be held then I choose somewhere that will let me land and I hunt around until I find somewhere. I also make sure that there is no landing fee or a very small one. This is more on principal than anything to do with finance. (We’ll talk about this a bit later!)

I usually always manage to come up with somewhere to land which makes things nice and interesting. Here’s what I do. It’s definateley not rocket science but if my technique helps anyone then that’s a good thing. Continue reading

Just get on with it!!!

G-EWAW at the Devonshire ArmsI’ve flown every day for the last 10 days which has been great. I’ve been all over the country including trips up to Cumbria and down to Buckinghamshire twice. Along the way I’ve encountered some pretty poor weather but I’m pleased to say that I’ve managed to get all my trips done safely with the minimum of delay. As I reported a few posts ago, I like to do lots of continuation training. Poor weather training plays a large part of that extra tuition.

Our weather system is shocking, and Manchester is particularly crap. If you believe the forecasts, I sincerely doubt any of us would ever fly. I find that the most important decision to take when flying in (or towards) poor weather/deteriorating conditions is when to actually give up and land. There is a strong argument that says that you shouldn’t begin the flight in the first place, but you really wouldn’t get airborne half the time and this was a particular gripe of mine. TAF’s/METARS would often containg Prob 30’s or TEMPO’s containing some real crud. Low cloud, poor vis, rain etc etc. I found myself postponing trips only to get to the end of the day and find that the weather had been perfectly (and safely) flyable. To me, Steve H and Mike B this was getting ridiculous and I hunted out someone who could teach us how to actually get going and critically get back (or at the very least down on the ground) safely. Continue reading

Continuation training

DSC_5765As most of you know I like to do regular continuation training to keep me on top of my game. I do plenty of hours and I’m a very confident pilot which has been known, in the past, to be the downfall of many an aviator. I’m definitely not intending to become a statistic so I have a determination to ensure I keep on with my learning. In the last 18 months I have actually totted up over 55 hours of such training which is quite a lot for a PPL but I think it’s vital. Continue reading

I’ve changed my mind

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I’ve decided that I don’t want a CPL (H), or an AOC for that matter. It’s too much like hard bloody work. I’ve spent a day flying people in and out of the Cholmondeley Pageant of Power; I’ve had two other aircraft involved, a pilot (Dave H) sharing the flying in my chopper and another pal (Dan C) doing ground handling. We also had a “no show” with Katie Price (Although I’m not at all surprised). All in all my machine has clocked up 5 hours flying, and “absolutely exhausted” , doesn’t begin to describe it. Continue reading

I need a CPL (H) and an AOC

pop_logo1.gifI’ve had a very busy week flying including trips to my office in Aylesbury and to visit a new business based at Cranfield called Helispan (more on that in a later post). However towards the end of the week I got a phone call from John P that owns CopterCovers. He’s one of the organisers of the Cholmondeley Pageant of Power.

Any chance you can give a few celebrities a lift from Knutsford into the Pageant on Sunday?

I don’t see why not….

Famous last words! I’ve spent the last few days organising helicopters, including mine, to ferry various footballers, their wives, Coronation Street actors and other similiar types in and out of a private landing site in Knutsford to the CPOP. Not an easy task especially when one of them is Katie Price and she needs collecting from, and returning to, Biggin Hill!!! Continue reading