My first landing somewhere on the grass field in Goodwood, in rainy and pure visibility conditions, is absolutely perfect straight from the first attempt and takes me exactly 5 seconds.
It is so perfect that both myself and my instructor are speechless for a second.
But, he thinks that this must have been pure beginner’s luck, I assume this myself as I am really surprised how easy landing is. As usual, he was right.
The last 10″ inches / 25cm
After this first lucky punch things turned around. It developed into the exercise that took me the longest to master in order to be ready for the first solo flight.
Somehow, I started to become a real master at ‘fiddling’ around for minutes at 10″ above the ground …
I usually started under a good control and descended slowly from the 2ft hover. But, the closer I came to the ground, where you should have absolutely no yaw and no drift in any direction at all, I started by not being the completely satisfied the first time and so continuously over-corrected myself afterward.
I did this until I had to completely give up, get back into a hover, and restart from the beginning. Sometimes even worse, the instructor had to take control and first move us back to the initial position.
I am still not sure if I was simply not very talented, wanted to land too perfectly, or if this is what everyone experienced.
But the final 10″ at landing started to really scratch a little on my own self-confidence.
The idea that I could actually get into a hover, hover taxi to departure, take-off & fly a full circuit at some point – first circuits – and get all the way back to parking, but then to crap on the remaining 10″ was quite annoying.
Heading Reference FAR AWAY
My major mistake was to constantly fall back into the habit of watching towards a heading reference too close, instead of a heading reference far away.
Once, I even managed to pick another hovering helicopter as a reference just because it was straight in front of us …
As soon as my instructor noticed this, he asked me:
“What is your heading reference – this helicopter? – “Well … yes – it’s not very good I know, but …” –
“You can’t have a heading reference that moves! And he is too close anyway.” – “So where would you look than in this situation? – “Pick a tree over there” – “They are on the other side of the field” – “Yes – that’s perfect”.
I was really surprised, he really meant far away. From here, the learning curve went straight upwards.
Landing on Slopes
Landing on slopes is the next step and, once the helicopter partially touches the ground with one skid, any yaw or drift would end up in a rollover even more quickly.
The better the straight hovering and landing in the flat works, the easier the slopes. And, by that time I got the message that the heading reference can actually almost never be too far away.
In my case, perhaps because I did fiddle around on the last 10″ for so long and because, most importantly, my self-confidence had grown to such a point that they went acceptably from the beginning.