Day 3 – First Autorotation
The third day starts with the new usual routine, an intense briefing and how could it be different than yesterday. I am again surprised by what the instructor comes up with this time: “Basic Autorotations”.
Before reading << Myth #1 “If the engine of a helicopter stops – you fall from the sky like a brick” >> I knew that helicopters could glide in autorotation, but, I thought the landing would be more or less a controlled crash. One you survive, but probably with a broken leg or so. I was not aware that the lift they can produce, with the energy stored in the blades when reaching the ground, was so enormous that the landing would be perfectly soft – softer than in an airplane.
Since I read this a few days ago, I knew that autorotations are a vital part of the training and no problem at all. Still, I did not expect them to start on the 3rd day, but it makes perfect sense.
Autorotation – 3, 2, 1 – GO
So after this briefing we fly to the training area – as usual, the view over the sea is absolutely stunning – and soon I here him speaking:
<< I will now demonstrate to you the basic autorotation. If you think that you are ok with it, you fly the next one. I will assist you of course – ok? – Yeah, cool, let’s try this. – Autorotation “GO” >>
The helicopter starts to gently move downwards, no abrupt change of direction, no sudden feeling of falling down, even the angle or so-called attitude looks almost the same as flying normally, only the rate of descent starts to increase. After a while, the instructor starts to recover and we climb away, back to the initial altitude where I would start my first attempt.
It was very comfortable. I found the autorotation so comfortable straight from the first time that I renamed them for myself to Sofa-Hopping – a bit like sitting on a sofa in a fancy glass elevator that reaches up to the sky.
Totally harmless & way less scary than I had expected.
I do not want to banalize them now, but I had really expected a violent and rough exercise, which it’s definitely not. Many roller coasters are way more violent and there is no comparison to a ‘not very well flown’ recovery of a partially collapsed paraglider where you can get massively thrown around.
As to which dynamic move can have a frightening effect on the student in the beginning or not I assume will be down to the individual and will depend on personal experience.
During training, you will do loads of autorotations in different variations and by the PPL skill test, you will enter and recover from autorotations almost like just flying a turn. Even combined with additional tasks such as turn around, select an emergency field, adjust speed and place a mayday radio call, etc. All together called “Practice Forced Landing – GO”.