Fixed Wing Pilot to Heli Pilot

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anydam
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Fixed Wing Pilot to Heli Pilot

#1 Post by anydam » Mon Jul 28, 2014 3:20 pm

This one is for any fixed wing pilots who have transitioned to rotary wing.

Is it safe for a high time fixed wing pilot to transition into helicopters? From what I understand recovery from a low rotor RPM situation (approaching blade stall) is in essence the exact opposite of a fixed wing stall recovery, and pushing forward on a cyclic when the stall horn is heard could destroy the aircraft. With stall recoveries so ingrained in us airplane pilots, is it safe to fly helis? Specifically Robinson machines.

Thanks
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All Sides
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Re: Fixed Wing Pilot to Heli Pilot

#2 Post by All Sides » Tue Jul 29, 2014 7:40 am

The information you received is a little inaccurate anydam. The procedure in the event of low rotor rpm is to immediately lower the collective. When I did the transition we were doing manoeuvres that if you pushed the nose over too quickly, you could induce blade rocking. This could result in chopping off the mast. We were doing auto rotations from the hover from 200 feet, not a required training exercise. My first reaction was to immediately quickly push the nose over, a fixed wing habit. The correct way was to lower the collective and slowly push the nose over to gain speed. As mentioned, not an exercise that one would normally train for, the instructor did it to show what the options were in the event of an engine failure in the hover with a 200 foot longline on. The instructor was a very highly experienced, respected and gifted pilot, he was just trying to demonstrate that it was survivable. The POH said otherwise.

One habit I had a hard time breaking was pulling back on the cyclic when doing run on landings. It was engrained in me from flying floats for so many years.

Hope that helps.
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Legacy14
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Re: Fixed Wing Pilot to Heli Pilot

#3 Post by Legacy14 » Tue Jul 29, 2014 9:55 am

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Schooner69A
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Re: Fixed Wing Pilot to Heli Pilot

#4 Post by Schooner69A » Tue Jul 29, 2014 12:48 pm

Anydam:

I had 16 years fixed wing before I transitioned to rotary wing. Then went on to fly both for about thirty years. No problem with the transition; no problem maintaining currency on both subsequently. Go for it if you get the chance.
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Nark
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Re: Fixed Wing Pilot to Heli Pilot

#5 Post by Nark » Mon Aug 04, 2014 8:26 pm

I'm finishing up military heli training, after a few thousand hours of fixed wing flying. I'm still quite wet behind the ears.

Some mentioned a few negative habit transfers such as cyclic inputs during run-on and for me auto's (wanting to flair, rather than use collective to cushion)

As Schooner said, it's very do able. I liken it to your attitude. Understand the airframe your in, and apply a healthy dose of respect for the machine, and you'll be fine.

Heli flying is just a different kind of fun/challenge. No better, or worse. Just different.
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ruddersup?
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Re: Fixed Wing Pilot to Heli Pilot

#6 Post by ruddersup? » Wed Aug 06, 2014 6:12 pm

I've flown both for a career simultaneously. I had no adjustment problem that I recall and like has been said here before it's all about the collective. If you are full time on helicopters the fixed wing instincts will take a back seat. I find I slip in and become one with the helicopter more than fixed wing and the necessary inputs are become natural and almost without thought.
Enjoy.
RU
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fish4life
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Re: Fixed Wing Pilot to Heli Pilot

#7 Post by fish4life » Wed Aug 06, 2014 10:06 pm

On that topic how much weight do operators put in your fixed wing experience if transferring to heli flying?
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All Sides
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Re: Fixed Wing Pilot to Heli Pilot

#8 Post by All Sides » Thu Aug 07, 2014 11:55 am

fish4life wrote:On that topic how much weight do operators put in your fixed wing experience if transferring to heli flying?
It really depends. I was hired by a company, the CP said the reason I was hired was because of my bush/float experience (7500 hrs.). He at least knew I would make it to the pad, with a low time helicopter pilot it wasn't always a slam dunk. A lot of the older pilots recognized my experience because a lot had come from a F/W background, that's not the case anymore. A lot of younger pilots then didn't think it counted for much, they were wrong. Learning to fly helicopters after F/W is not a big transition in itself, doing as a career can be a whole different story depending on what type of work you pursue.
A huge day flying floats might include 30 take-offs/landings, I counted over 60 in 5 hours flying R/W one day just for comparison. Again, depending on what type of flying you pursue, the R/W flying can be way more intense. A lot of work these days involve long lining which can be production (eg seismic, logging) to precision (drill moves), you could do in excess of a few hundred cycles in one day. One guy I knew did 1000 cycles flying shake blocks one day!

Hope that helps.
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Re: Fixed Wing Pilot to Heli Pilot

#9 Post by soneil » Fri Aug 08, 2014 7:46 am

Just to add another aspect to the subject, I recently attempted the exact opposite career switch and fell flat on my face. After 16 years of rotary bush flying, I felt that career fulfillment would be achieved by expanding into something very different. My two options were multi IFR helicopter or fixed wing. I worked hard to attain commercial airplane, night, multi, group 1 then converted it all to include rotary night and group 4. In the end, after a year and a half, only one fixed wing operator showed any interest (the chief pilot himself was dual rated with some limited rotary experience) out of dozens. I often exceeded total time requirements by thousands of hours, but it didn't matter. I accepted a rotary multi IFR entry level position this spring and wil be very happy finishing my career with that. Still, it would have been interesting had it gone the other way.
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Re: Fixed Wing Pilot to Heli Pilot

#10 Post by C-GKNT » Fri Aug 08, 2014 1:03 pm

Hello anydam,

After about 1,250 hours of fixed wing time (so not high time but enough), I did my commercial fixed wing to commercial helicopter conversion last fall.

I do not fly for a living but I regularly fly a fixed wing Aerostar (rotates at 90KTS) within minutes of a Bell-47 (cruises at 70KTS). Yes, initially, I had "transition" issues, between the two. Amongst other things, the approach angles are just so completely different. At first it just seemed unnatural. However, after a couple of times back/forth I never noticed it again.

So in summary, yes they are different but not an issue that a bit of practice won't take care of. Just do it! Its a blast... However, if your aspirations are more "commercial" in nature, I would carefully read over some of the previous responses.

Glenn
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