The First EveningThe first Wycombe safety evening was rather an exploratory thing - there was no real theme, but it was treated as a meeting place and to see what people expected to get from the evenings. Having said that, there were still some good discussions and Dennis Kenyon gave us the benefit of his wisdom, which is really the whole point of these meetings anyway. In all there were about 15-18 people of varying experience.
The Second EveningThe second one had a particular purpose - to demonstrate that the 5 hours instrument flying given on the PPL(H) course is NOT an instrument rating.
9 people turned up, and the evening started with a short talk from Leon Smith regarding the difference between that sort of cursory training and what a real IFR pilot has to cope with. The first point made was that currency was vitally important - by the time that instrument experience is needed, typically 2 years have gone by! The second was that inadvertent IMC entry almost always happens at slow speeds, and when people go into cloud they tend to pull the nose up, which makes things worse. Helicopters have a minimum IFR speed which relates to stability - below about 55-60 kts, depending on the type, the fins and stabilisers don't work particularly well. So, when a pilot who has been groping around in bad weather and going slower and slower to cope with it suddenly goes into cloud that is the worst position you can possibly be in.
It was re-emphasised that the typical time between an unqualified person entering cloud and the time the machine falls out of the bottom is about 178 seconds, a figure from a study carried out by the University of Illinois.
While the candidates went into the sim three at a time, the ones left behind discussed various subjects, including the difference in philosophy between the FAA and JAA systems.
Helicopter Safety UK, C/O The Round House, Trevelmond, Cornwall, PL14 4LZ t:07775631465
(c) Gary Spender 2007-2019