Book Advice for Pilots starting “From_Zero”

After my trial lesson, I could not wait to start my training and googled to find some former students telling stories about their training. I did not find a lot, that was one of the reasons I started this website.

Instead, I found this book on Amazon – it is not part of the ground school or exam books in my training but it gave me some general ideas on how to approach things during the first few weeks.

The author is a former, obviously experienced US Air Force and North Sea offshore helicopter pilot, who received his primary helicopter training at the US Army’s flight schools in Texas and Alabama.

Perfect for a beginner “From_Zero” like me. I found it really helpful and it alleviated some of the concerns that I had in my mind. And, most importantly, I found it very easy to read  & understand – more like a novel for non-pilots.

I would recommend the book to give yourself an idea of what to expect before starting and/or during the first few weeks of training.

 

Learning to Fly Helicopters – by R.Randall Padfield  / 2nd Edition

It starts with the chapter “Helicopter Myths”

Myth #1 – If a helicopter engine stops, you fall from sky like a brick

Myth #2 – A helicopter needs two engines, one for the big and one for the small propeller

Myth #3 – Helicopters are too fragile to fly in strong winds

Myth #4 – A flight in a helicopter is always bumpier than in a aeroplane

Myth #5 – Helicopter pilots are different from other people

Myths #1 – Autorotations

In Myths #1 he covers and explains the ability of helicopters to “land” safely in autorotation and states:

The fact is: You have a better chance of survival after a complete power failure in a helicopter than you do in an aeroplane.

Although a helicopter in autorotation will descend at a faster-than-normal-rate, helicopter pilots are trained to handle this event. As the helicopter nears the ground, the pilot manipulates the controls so that the momentum generated by the turning rotors during the descent is converted into lift.

“Even under the most unfavourable conditions, a skilled pilot can usually still make a safe autorotative landing – no damage & no injuries – into an area not much larger than the helicopter itself.”

 

I decided to handle this question for myself as follows

I have the impression that whatever you start to fly – you will find a very plausible and reasonable explanation as to why exactly this kind of flying or aircraft is the safest. And, with all of them, fatal accidents can happen.

If you fly paragliders for example, you will become convinced that they are the safest because they have no technical parts that could fail at all. Yes, there are no technical parts to fail – there is no argument about this. But, they can collapse in on themselves, you can get seriously blown away, sucked into clouds etc. and of course fatal accidents can happen.

I do not know any statistical numbers, whether or not it’s true, that the chance of survival of an engine failure in a helicopter is higher than in aeroplanes.

However, there are many scientific studies that prove that more then 75% of all aviation accidents – whatever aircraft type – are pilots mistakes anyway (mis-interpretation of the weather, over-estimation of their own skills etc.).

So for me it’s not the question as to which aircraft is the safest, but how your own skills are. And this, in my opinion, is purely dependent on your training. Exactly the same as driving a car, motorbike, sailing or downhill skiing etc.

It is a matter of fact that during helicopter training the autorotation is constantly trained straight from the beginning and I did not find them scary at all – see post about autorotations.

 


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