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Importing a Hughes 500 helicopter from the USA

Hughes 500c HS Helicopter

Hughes 500c HS Helicopter with Lee

Joel has asked me to write a short piece on my experiences of bringing a Hughes 500 back from the USA to the UK so here goes.

I’m Lee Jones ,my day job is as a Captain on Airbus A320/321 for Monarch Airlines based at Manchester Ringway. I have long had an interest in helis and got my PPL (H) about 5 years ago. The Hughes and MDH product line has always been a favourite of mine due to its great handling, versatility and above all it supposed ‘relatively’ lower operating costs.

The 500 has since gone through several owners including the Hughes Tool Company ,McDonnel Douglas, Boeing and now MDH Inc. Continue reading


The law isn’t always an ass!!

The Law is an ass!I read two reports in my local evening paper tonight that were of interest. The first article described how a court has recently found a 22yr old idiot guilty of shining a lazer pen into the cockpit of the Greater Manchester Police helicopter. The tosser apparently didn’t realise that it was the police helicopter – Why, you prat, does that make a difference?

There have been 28 similar incidents in and around Manchester and any culprits are always prosecuted where possible. The defendant in this case has been warned to expect a custodial sentence. And quite rightly so.

The second recorded how a commercial fixed wing pilot had been prosecuted by the CAA for allegedly low flying over a football match that he had been paid to fly over towing a banner advertising (the now defunct) Setanta sports. The match was taking place at Manchester City’s football ground, but the banner included a Manchester United football shirt. One member of the crowd was so incensed (at the football shirt) that he reported the incident. The pilot was cleared after he was able to demonstrate that he was flying at between 1’600 ft and 1’800ft and had also identified suitable places in the vicinity that he would have been able to use if his engine had failed.

It would seem that the law got it right (for once) in both instances.!

New EASA Proposals. Take Action Now!!!!

ImportantHCGB – EASA Proposals July 2009

Chaps and chapesses, I have just received a letter from the Helicopter Club  of Great Britain (see link above) which I am summarising below. After reading the following article, each and everyone of you, YES, THAT MEANS YOU, must make a response to EASA (the European version of our CAA) on their proposals which may affect future helicopter usage.

You may not think they will have an impact on you personally, but they might. The fact that you don’t own your own machine is irrelevant.

The deadline for responses, which can be submitted via the EASA website, is July 31st 2009. It will take a bit of time to do but it is critical that we do do it. Continue reading

April Occurences

logosmall March/April’s occurrence listing has 21 entries relating to Rotary Wing Aircraft. From what I can see, none of the incidents involved serious injuries or fatalities. There were the standard airspace infringements, some technical issues and reports of targetting by lasers. (Presumably by people on the ground and not by the SAS prior to a missile strike). As usual you can get your own copy from the CAA website.

Night Night!!

Breaking NewsWahay!! It’s over !! My night qualification training is now complete. I have logged over the minimum number of hours (15 hours instrument, 5 hours at night including 5 solo circuits) and all that is left to do is pay the nice friendly people at the CAA and have them remove the night restriction from my license. (Apparently it’s not so much the addition of a rating, it’s the removal of a restriction – go figure!!)

The weather was looking good, but we were hoping for it to be slightly worse than ideal to give me an appreciation of the reality of flying at night in “iffy” conditions. However, unbelieveably, it was  a nice clear night, and the forecast tempos of reduced vis and cloud base didn’t seem to appear. There was the odd bit of cloud at 2000 ft but other than that it wasn’t too bad.

Anyway, it was a last minute dash, but I dived into Barton at the death and refuelled my machine ready for the evening’s detail. As I had previously done my circuits and solo circuits I had to do a navigation exercise, so off we trotted to Blackpool to begin the training.

We began with a demonstration from “JJ” of an autorotation onto the runway (with a power recovery at 10ft). Although I practised engine failures last week, we recovered at about 200ft – but this time the plan was to carry ondown much further. The technique here is to begin the flare at approximately 150ft agl and then bring the nose level at 50 ft agl. From there, hopefully we have time to identify what if anything we might be hitting if it all went pear shaped, at night, for real. Continue reading

Clear as mud!


Forgive me for being cynical, but I have to ask why, the CAA find it necessary to use 3000 words when 1 would suffice?

I’ve just returned from the briefing at Barton on the new ATSOCAS prepared in conjunction with the CAA, NATS, DARS and the ASI (and yes I’m serious about all those TLA’s (three letter abbreviations!!)). And those TLA’ get worse, how anyone at the CAA keeps track of them is quite frankly beyond me. What with CAP 774, the ANO, CAP 413, FIS, RIS, FISO, ATCO, SATCO, CTR, ATZ and ADR’s we all needed some TLC.

The event was well attended with easily over 120 people in attendance. However, after 90 minutes of, and to be fair, a professional, articulate presentation, I am no more wiser on the new services than when I went in. Well maybe marginally wiser. In fact at the break, we hadn’t really touched on the new services of which there are 4.

Only 1 of which, however, is likeley to be required or even provided to the typical VFR pilot. Continue reading