Merry Christmas Rico! Yes – I know it’s late but Rico decided to wait for clearer weather before using his Christmas gift.  Since Rico has contemplated becoming a helicopter pilot, the perfect gift last year for him was a test flight.  He scheduled the flight yesterday when the forecast said perfect weather for today.  We woke up to cloudy skies and chilly temperatures.  But we took the chance and as we drove to Boeing Field, the clouds thinned and finally the sun popped through.  It seemed that the exit for Boeing Field was the line for the clouds, so he got super lucky and had amazing blue skies for his first flight (the clouds returned as soon as we started heading South again and it’s supposed to rain all this weekend, blah).

To me, this little copter looks like a dragonfly – little skinny tale with a big head buzzing around…. 

Since there is no way I can describe what it was like to fly a helicopter, I’ll let Flyboy tell you in his own words:
It was an amazing experience.  It started out with Bryan (Flight Instructor) walking me through a few of the basics of safety and the controls of the helicopter. Then we headed out and got settled in and ready for take off. During the take off and landings of the helicopter, Bryan was in control but once we got up and out over Seattle, Bryan gave me control and just assisted in making corrections (there were two sets of controls, similar to a Drivers Ed car). We headed north from Boeing Field out over Queen Anne Hill and up to Lake Washington and back down along the shore.  The coolest part was flying right over Qwest Field.  It was so awesome to be able to just hover over Seattle and see everything.  I wish the flight could have been longer but I look forward to going back out and doing more training.

I got to control the Cyclic (basically a stick in the middle of the copter that controls the forward and backward movement), the Collective Lever (up and down controls on the side of the seat) and the Throttle (controls speed of the engine to keep the copter in flight).  I didn’t really get to use the Torque petals though which controls the Rudder and controls the pitch and balance – we didn’t really need it because the wind wasn’t blowing too hard.

 Caught this shot just before Rico strapped in for his lesson!

 Take off!

 Hovering… and showing off for the camera!

See…what’d I tell ya? A Dragonfly!
His huge grin after the flight was finished!
Some other interesting information Rico discovered by talking with his instructor:
  • It takes approximately 4 years to be able to make a decent living flying helicopters.
  • There are 3 levels of licenses: Private, Commercial, CFI (Certified Flight Instructor)
    • Private: 40hrs of flight time (not allowed to charge for your services)
    • Commercial: 250 hrs
    • CFI: Most pilots will work as an instructor to accumulate hours.
  • It takes approximately 1000-1500 hrs of flight time for insurance companies to consider you coverable in the  business of flying.
  • Each hour of flying costs anywhere between $200-$350 depending on where you fly and if you buy in bulk.