Day 33: Future Helicopter Pilot

This is a "new thing" day I've been looking forward to for many weeks now, ever since I bought this deal off of Living Social--a one-hour helicopter flying lesson. I saw the deal for a mere $89 (typically $295/hour) and applied my "carpe diem" mood to justify my purchase.

And it was so super cool and worth it.

I arrived to the helicopter pad with my instructor Steven and he went over a couple of FAA regulations before stepping out onto the tarmac. What surprised me most was that the helicopter had no doors. Why on earth you would put students in a flying contraption without the courtesy of preventing them from falling to their death, I'll never know. But as you can already assume, I didn't have to worry about that after all.

Steven pulled out a checklist of things to read off to him, making me feel like a fighter pilot ready for battle. I called out commands like "master switch, ON!," "RPM, 70-75%," "Clutch, ON!" and on and on. While calling out commands, lots of things started buzzing, humming, and moving--all the way up to the rotor blades on spinning. It was strangely empowering and calming all at the same time.

When everything was up and running, we moved over to a grassy area where Steven let me take the reins. The right seat is the "pilot's" seat. Seriously. Look it up if you don't believe me.

Each and ever appendage works when you're flying a helicopter. There are two foot pedals, a lever for the left hand and not-easily-translatable-to-those-who-drive-cars joystick/steering bar called a cyclic--and they are all SUPER sensitive. Just a little push here, lift there and move of the pinkie on the cyclic could leave you upside down. But thankfully, Steven didn't let me get that far.We mostly worked rotating 180, hovering, floating up and down and moving left and right. Nothing like the Blue Angels, but hey, I was only 30 minutes in.

After thirty-some minutes of playing on the grass, Steven launched us up into the air and asked me to hold onto the cyclic while we flew, leaving one hand free to snap these pictures:

Buckhead and Midtown
Dunwoody--the King and Queen Building in the middle
He later told me that only 1% of people in the world are pilots, and only 7% of pilots are helicopter pilots. Of those, less than 20% are women. It's a small minority that I hope I added to for at least a day.

1 comment:

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