Thursday, July 2, 2009

Training to be a Helicopter Pilot -1977

" To lift the helicopter to a hover, raise the collective slowly,anticipate a slight droop in rotor RPM with a slight twist of the throttle you are holding with your left hand. The aircraft will have a tendency to yaw right when you are applying power so apply some pressure on the left rudder to maintain heading. Look far ahead into the horizon and maintain your position with your cyclic control on your right hand" ........These were some of the instructions on my first flight on the Bell 47 G Helicopter. And it was a hand full of instructions! Of course the helicopter did not respond to my commands and it seemed to have a mind of its own!!!!! "FLY THE AIRCRAFT.......You must always be ahead of the aircraft and don't let the aircraft fly you!" barked my instructor.
The year was 1977 and I was one of those few lucky guys out of many selected to be a student at the Helicopter Flying Training School to be trained as a military helicopter pilot. The first aircraft we learned to fly is the Bell 47 G. This aircraft has no automation at all so the pilot has a very high workload and you really need to be a well coordinated person to fly that machine.

At the end of the first hour while rejoining the airfield, I was commanded to pull the fuel shut off valve to the CLOSE position. What ? Crazy? instructor wanted to show me how safe a helicopter can be. At 1500 ft it took us more than a minute autorotating down to the airfield. The rotors are turning due to a windmill effect. It was nice and quiet! The aircraft landed on the airfield at a chosen spot and came to a stop within 50 ft. I was amazed and was hooked to helicopter flying at that point!

But learning how to fly is not only flying. We had lectures after lectures on numerous subjects like navigation, meteorology,air law, performance etc. It sure was hard work but if there is a passion for it the course will seem easy.

Very soon we were learning some flying that was perculiar only to landing in a small confined area, doing underslung work etc. was fun.
The basic flying involves 100 flying hours. Those who get through this stage will continue to Advanced Flying Training. that will be another story later.


  1. hi buddy,

    do you still remember Capt Shariff "UBAN" as one of your basic helicopter instructor ?? haha
    ,,,,you are doing great my friend, do fly/sail/kayak yourself to kapas island one of these days for a cold cool beer yaa.
    cheers brother

    Capt Uban

  2. Hi sir, im suhaidi. Im the free writer for one defends magazine in Msia. Now im writing my new article. The article is about the RMAF Flyaing Training. I would like to use your picture in my article especially about the Bell helicopter. Im wait for you replies.