A few months ago Groupon offered an introductory helicopter lesson with North Carolina Rotor and Wing at Franklin County Airport in Louisburg, NC (the same location of our skydive). Ever since we experienced our first helicopter flight in New Zealand, Alex has been talking about learning to fly one. The lesson was to include a classroom portion and then an actual flight where you actually man the controls for a short time.
Our friends Lydia and Steve came along as Steve was also partaking of the lesson. Lydia and I sat in on the classroom part and my head was swimming pretty quickly with diagrams of the cyclic and the collective and pedals, worrying about torque and rotor RPM and altitude. I really should have taken physics at some point. The instructor, Tim O’Brien, was really great but it was a lot of information in a short amount of time.
Alex was up first. Unfortunately it was a pretty windy day and it was just a little too windy for Alex to do much. They flew around the area, performing different maneuvers, banking right and banking left and then came down to practice hovering, which is really about the only time Alex touched the controls. I took this high-tech video of him hovering:
I think Alex’s opinion after trying it out was that perhaps it was a little too complicated for his taste. He felt that perhaps his hand-eye coordination is not quite up to the challenge of managing all of the controls. But he still had fun!
Learn to fly is #74 on the 101 Things to Do Before You Die list and I fully plan to learn someday. While I enjoyed riding in a helicopter, I’m not too interesting in learning to fly one, either. Not to mention how expensive it is to get your license (around $14,000).
I did find out that you can get your sport pilot license. Sport Pilot certificates require as little as 20 hours of instruction. The holder of a sport pilot license may fly a light sport aircraft (a 2 place aircraft weighing less than 1320 lbs), unlimited distances within the United States , in good weather, and during daylight hours. And it only costs about $3,500. (Considering how much we’ve spent on other hobbies. See: marathon).
Maybe something to do 2 or so years out.
So who out there can fly a plane? Who has aspirations to? Who thinks it best to leave it up to the drunk commercial pilots?