Yearly Archives: 2018

Helicopter Private Pilot Add-On

I had originally intended to record all of my experiences in helicopter training on this site, unfortunately my schedule has been too intense to keep up with many of my projects. In late August 2018 I completed my Private Pilot Add-on in the R-22. Here is a photo taken immediately after the successful check ride.


I have had the opportunity to take several family members and friends flying since completing the rating. My mother-in-law, Olga, was one my first victims. I landed at the house and picked her up for a short flight. She really loved it.

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The same day I stopped at my Dad’s and took my step-mother Nancy for a flight.

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And of course my Dad got a flight too!

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My buddy Wes got a flight!


My CFI Mike over Towson Maryland.


This photo was taken as I was set to leave on my first solo flight.


The photo below was taken before my first flight with the doors off. Flying the R-22 with the doors off is one of my favorite ways to fly. Period. Its an exhilarating experience. The visibility and perception of flight is unparalleled.


Multi-Engine Instructor

MEI ReportThis is my fourth check ride with DPE Mike DeRuggiero (CFI, CFII, Multi Add-On, and MEI). I will give a quick rundown of the exam and any notes as I can remember them.

  • Oral / Ground: The ground portion was about 2.5 hours – but this includes about 45 min of paperwork as well as a good 30 – 45 min of shop talk unrelated to the exam. Biggest topic was Vmc Certification and the relationships with performance etc. While I didn’t have to “teach” a lesson on it – I basically did just that. He sent me the video below the night before, and its a very good video for students to watch. I highly recommend. It also helped prepare me for the exam – and I addressed part of my “lesson” towards the video.  COMBATS is a useful acronym to remember the 13 certification points. COMBATS is frequently quoted incorrectly – it is not Maximum Weight, but rather Most Unfavorable Weight, which is typically the lightest possible weight with an Aft CG.
  • Normal T/O to the North West: Don’t start your takeoff roll while still on the taxi-way that is prior to the threshold on 15. Other than that, textbook, no surprises.
  • Slow flight – demo: Not much to report, standard slow flight.
  • Vmc Demo – DPE Performs: He asked me to critique and assess his performance of the maneuver. He performed it very well with only a few deviations – altitude and flap retraction. On altitude he got a bit high at one point but corrected. He let the flaps come all the way up due to the way the flap lever works on the Cougar, and was likely looking to see if I would catch that as part of my critique. (The cougar flap switch springs to all the way up, so if you want to bring the flaps up incrementally you have to manually stop the flaps at each point) I did, and he was happy.
  • Vmc Demo – I performed: I did the Vmc demo twice. My first one was a little rough. I got a bit off on heading – not much maybe 5 degrees, and as I began the maneuver I pushed power up on the right  before pulling power back on the left. He would like to see power always pulled first – makes sense as you are simulating an engine loss. I pointed out my mistakes and performed a second demonstration as a teaching event.
  • Drag Demo- Of all the maneuvers this is probably the one where I made the biggest mistake in terms of procedures, but I caught myself halfway through the maneuver and used it as a teaching opportunity. Namely, I started to do the configuration changes while I was still slowing down and prior to capturing Vyse. When I noted my mistake and used it as a teaching moment, I modified the procedure to ensure all the configurations were performed. I think he was happier that I made the mistake and used it as a teaching moment than if I had just done it perfectly. One thing he did note was that you should also include varying airspeed above and below Vyse. I have not been doing that in practice.
  • Single Engine Shutdown – No surprises here.
  • Single Engine Maneuvering Demo – Also no surprises.
  • Emergence Decent –  POH has two techniques. MRA has been using the latter (gear down) for the most part. I also prefer that technique. Useful to know that there are two. My preferred technique is to do a maximum slip as well. Get the airplane as draggy as you can make it, and come down hill like gangbusters.
  • KDMW – 50% power t/o: I had never performed the maneuver on a “student”. Easy enough, but may want to practice a bit more with applicants acting as the instructor vice just doing the manuevers.
  • Failure > 500’: Caught me a bit by surprise even though I knew it was coming. I did all the right things, if a bit slowly, and then we departed the pattern.
  • SE Landing back at KMTN: Also no surprises or mistakes. Mike likes to talk about using differential power in a crosswind on a ME plane – something I should practice.

If you missed my post on the Commercial Multi-Engine Add-On, and you are interested in earning your multi-engine rating, please watch the video below.

Helicopter Intro

As you may know already, I’ve been doing a fair amount of flight training in my spare time. I recently got my CFI, CFII, and my Commercial Multi-Engine Add-on. Now I’m getting my helicopter certificates as well! I haven’t decided if I’ll get my private helo certificate or go straight to the commercial add-on. The commercial add-on will require 35 hours of PIC, which means a lot of solo cross country flights. If I get my private cert first, I can make those XC flights a little more fun by bringing along some passengers, but then I’d have to take an additional check ride. Anyways, right now I at least plan to get my commercial and instrument tickets in the helo, and I may even get my CFI.

My first flight was scheduled for earlier in the week, but high winds meant we only did some ground instruction. We covered some helicopter systems and did a point by point pre-flight of the helicopter. Everyone says helicopters have a thousand moving parts. Sure – but when you peek behind the curtain, they really are not complicated machines.

Here is one of the R-22s I will be flying.




Middle River has one of about 20 new Guimbal Cabri G2 helicopters. From everything I have read and watched about this helicopter it is an exciting addition to training and rental fleets. Its safer and cooler than an R-22! If you want to see some cool helicopter flying in a collection of well made YouTube videos, check out Mischa Gelb’s channel Pilot Yellow. He runs BC Helicopters and they operate not one, but two G2 helos. After I get some time in the R22 (because its cheaper on an hourly basis) I’m definitely going to get some time in the G2!