Index Home About Blog
From: (Badwater Bill)
Newsgroups: rec.aviation.homebuilt
Subject: Flight Instruction In the Robie
Date: Thu, 11 Jun 1998 16:54:34 GMT

As most of you know, I've been taking my training for a commercial
helicopter add-on over the past couple of months.  Going out to fly
the Robie every other day is about like going to a knife-fight.  It's
interesting that in fixed wing training, you learn to fly in just
about the easiest airplanes in the skies, a C-152, Cherokee 140,
Tomahawk and so on.  This makes it easy to become a flight instructor
and easy to get a license for the student.

Frank Robinson did not design the R-22 as a trainer.  He designed it
as a high performance low inertia rotor system helicopter with tons of
power and snappy performance.  But, since the thing is easy to
maintain, inexpensive to buy (by helicopter standards) it's become the
main machine used for training in this country.

What this does is create a situation which requires the best pilots to
become the CFI's and believe me these guys I'm flying with are the
best I've ever seen.  There's no room for error.  These guys are
spring loaded to correct anything that a stupid input by a student
puts this machine into.  Consequently, when you get your license in
the R-22 you can transition to anything with rotors in a heartbeat.
It's completely different than the fixed wing regime.  I was talking
with a Bell-47 pilot at Pink Knee and he told me he used to fly here
in Vegas for Sundance Helicopters.  He told  me that should the
Lycoming fail in his 47 during hovering he could do a complete 360
turn then land perfectly since there's so much inertia in the rotor
system.  In the Robie, you have about 1 second to flare with the
collective before you hit the dirt.  In normal cruise flight you have
1.5 to 1.8 seconds to bottom the collective if your engine pukes.  If
you weight longer, your rotor rpm will decay below 80%.  That coupled
with the 2000 fpm rate of decent stalls your blades and it's
unrecoverable.  Many R-22's have hit the ground with the rotors

What a knife fight!  I love it.  It's an interesting challenge to fly
this thing.  Something just sort of clicked in the last couple of
training hours for me and all of a sudden I can fly it.  Monday the
machine flew me but Tuesday I flew it for the first time and yesterday
I flew it.  In fact we were doing 180 degree autorotations from 500
feet and I was totally in command of the rotor rpm, airspeed, trim,
coordination, flare, power up to join the needles and landing.  It
just all came together for some strange and wonderful reason.

At the end of the flight we had some fun and chased a jack rabbit
around the desert in a hover.  What a kick!

Badwater Bill

From: (Badwater Bill)
Newsgroups: rec.aviation.homebuilt
Subject: Re: Virtual Love Making in an Airplane (long and instructional)
Date: Tue, 16 Jun 1998 03:41:03 GMT

Dear Uncle Bob:

Not a chance.  I think this CFI is a product of the Hitler Nazi Youth!
He's only 26 years old with 1000 hours of chopper time, all in the
Robie.  He's a maniac.  He grinds me about keeping the machine in
trim, the power on, the rotor rpm on, the carb heat on or off, the
strobe on the airspeed on, the decent rate on, on and on and on.  Then
he takes is around the pattern to demo it to me and it's perfect. So,
I know that it is humanly possible to do it right.   I must go to
sleep now because tomorrow I will be forced to goostep again to this
guy.  I keyed up the mic the other morning after doing six 180 degree
autorotations and told him I was going to write to his mother a letter
and tell her how her son turned out.  I was going to tell her that he
was into torturing old people.


>Dearest Nephew Billy,
>Any chance that the mean old instructor will ever let you out of hover
>mode so you can fly that eggbeater like a real aeroplane where you can
>then concentrate on writing more poems over the Sierras or the Sahara.
>We need more poems!
>Uncle Bob U.

From: (Badwater Bill)
Newsgroups: rec.aviation.homebuilt
Subject: Helicopters!  One second to suicide
Date: Sat, 27 Jun 1998 17:36:11 GMT

It's a beautiful Saturday morning here in Las Vegas.  I'm going to go
fly the helicopter this morning and have some fun.  I sat down in my
easy chair a while ago to review some written material and I re-read
some of the technical safety bullitens issued by the Robinson
Helicopter Flight Training Center.  I'm in a relaxed peacefull kind of
a mood but I must warn myself that I'm about to go enter a realm
equivalent to going to a knife fight.  No holds barred.  I think many
of you will get a kick out of these.  They are real.  I didn't type
all of each of them, just the fun parts.  Read and enjoy.  While you
are reading these, I'll be out there with my left hand on the
collective, SPRING LOADED.  I think you'll all see why!

I think drinking hemlock might be something safer than this
instructional flight I'm about to take.


Safety Notice SN-10 (paraphrased)

Issued Jun 94


A primary cause of fatal accidents in light helicopters is failure to
maintain rotor RPM.  To avoid this, every pilot must have his reflexes
conditioned so he will instantly add throttle and lower collective to
maintain RPM in any emergency.

The R-22 and R44 have demonstrated excellent crashworthiness as long
as the pilot flies the aircraft all the way to the ground and executes
a flare at the bottom to reduce his airspeed and rate of decent.  Even
when going down into rough terrain, trees, wires or water, he must
FORCE himself to lower the collective to maintain RPM until just
before impact

Power available from the engine is directly proportional to RPM.  If
the RPM.  With less power, the helicopter will start to settle, and if
the collective is raised to stop it from settling, the RPM will be
pulled down even lower, causing the ship to settle even faster.  If
the pilot not only fails to lower collective, but instead pulls up on
the collective to keep the ship from going down, the rotor will stall
almost immediately.  When it stalls, the blades will either "blow
Back" and cut off the tail cone or it will just stop flying, allowing
the helicopter to fall at an extreme rate.  In either case, the
resulting crash is likely to be FATAL.

No matter what causes the low rotor RPM, the pilot must first roll on
the throttle and lower the collective simultaneously to recover RPM
before investigating the problem.  It must be a conditioned REFLEX.

SAFETY NOTICE SN-24 (clipped and paraphrased)


Rotor stall can occur at any airspeed and when it does, the rotor
stops producing the lift required to support the helicopter and the
aircraft literally falls out of the sky.

When the rotor stalls, it does not do so symmetrically because any
forward airspeed of the helicopter will produce a higher airflow on
the advancing blade than on the retreating blade.  This causes the
retreating blade to stall first, allowing it to dive as it goes aft
wile the advancing blade is still climbing as it goes forward.  The
resulting low aft blade and high forward blade become a rapid tilting
of the rotor disc sometimes referred to as "Rotor Blow-back."  Also,
as the helicopter begins to fall, the upward flow of air under the
tail surfaces tends to pitch the aircraft nose-down.  These two
effects, combined with aft cyclic by the pilot attempting to keep the
nose from dropping, will frequently allow the rotor blades to blow
back and chop off the tailboom as the stalled helicopter falls.

Due to the magnitude of the forces involved and the flexibility of
rotor blades, rotor teeter stops will not prevent the boom chop. The
resulting boom chop, however, is academic, as the aircraft and its
occupants are already DOOMED by the stalled rotor before the chop

SAFETY NOTICE SN-29 (Clipped and Paraphrased)

There have been a number of fatal accidents involving experienced
pilots who have many hours in airplanes but with only limited
experience flying helicopters.

The ingrained reactions of an experienced airplane pilot can be DEADLY
when flying a helicopter.  The airplane plot may fly the helicopter
well when doing the normal maneuvers under ordinary conditions when
there is time to think about the proper control response.  But when
required to react suddenly under unexpected circumstances, he may
revert to his airplane reactions and commit a FATAL error. Under those
conditions, his hands and feet move purely by reaction without
conscious thought.  Those reactions may well be based on his greater
experience, i.e., the reactions developed flying airplanes.

For example, in an airplane his reaction to a warning horn (stall)
would be to immediately go forward with the stick and add power.  In a
helicopter, application of forward stick when the pilot hears a horn
(low RPM) would drive the ROM even lower and could result in rotor
stall, especially if he also "adds power" (up collective).  In less
than ONE SECOND the pilot could stall his rotor, causing the
helicopter to fall out of the sky!

(the report goes on with a couple more unnatural reactions)

To stay alive in the helicopter, the experienced airplane pilot must
devote considerable time and effort to developing safe helicopter
reactions.  The helicopter reactions MUST be stronger and take
precedence over the pilot's airplane reactions because everything
happens faster in a helicopter.  The pilot does not have time to
realize he made the WRONG MOVE.  If you think about it and then
correct for it, it's too late.  The rotor has already stalled or a
blade has already struck the airframe and there is NO CHANCE OF

To develop safe helicopter reactions, the airplane pilot must practice
each procedure over and over again with a competent instructor until
his hands and feet will always make the right move without requiring

******************end of quoted

Well, with all of this in mind plus a few thousand other things, I
think I'll go try this.


From: (Badwater Bill)
Newsgroups: rec.aviation.homebuilt
Subject: Re: Help - Strange Ignition Problem -Rotax 582
Date: Sun, 28 Jun 1998 21:34:32 GMT

Dear CPeter7:

 Thanks for the vote of confidence but I really don't know the answers
to these questions either.  Every time I seem to get a reasonable
discussion going  on the 2-stroke questions everybody has a different
opinion, the answers diverge and I'm left in the cold again.  In order
not to open myself up for a lawsuit from Rotax or Fetters I must tell
you that what I'm about to say is strictly my opinion and is based
only upon my own experience with the Rotax 447's, 503's and the
Robinson R-22 helicopter.

This is my statement:

From what little I know, from the lack of validated engineering
evidence provided to me, from the lack of test-flight data and  from
what I do know about flying small helicopters, I would just forget
having one if I were limited to the Mini 500, a CH-7 or any other
experimental at this time.  Also, I just don't have a good feeling
about using 2-cycle engines in helicopters although I have a few
hundred hours behind them in fixed wings and feel perfectly
comfortable in that realm.  As you all know, the rpm in a helicopter
is always at 100% although the load demand varies from about 20% on
the ground to 100% power in an OGE hover.

The helicopter is a goofy flying machine and the constraints are
different.  I  don't really want to go out  and buy an R-22 for
$115,000 but  a Mini 500 or CH-7 at $25k is within striking distance.
In fact I could write a check for one tomorrow.  I choose not to do
that, however, because after looking at it critically over the past
couple years I think there is a real high potential for me to kill
myself in the Mini 500 or CH-7.

Since I really would like to live a few more years I'm just going to
rent an R-22 until I can make enough money to buy one or I get bored
with them and I just hang the whole idea up.  In fact I don't even
ever want to ride in a helicopter that wasn't built in a factory.  I'm
not up for being a test pilot in an experimental helicopter at all.
And, I don't mind test flying lots of neat homebuilts around here
including ultralites, gyroplanes, gliders and experimental balloons.
Most of these people have no idea what they're up against in a
helicopter.  Fixed wing airplanes, even gyros are simple in comparison
to helicopters.  When I go out to fly the Robie, I fly my Dave Brown
RC model flight simulator first (for about an hour).  I don't drink
anything the night before and I drink 3 cups of coffee (I never drink
coffee at any other time).  That's how I prepare to go out and fly a
certified, proven ship.  In order to get me to fly a Mini 500 I would
need a prescription for diet pills to pump me up, then I'd still
probably still be behind it.

Now there are people out there like Gil who has about 180 hours in his
Mini 500.  He's still going strong and loves it.  That's had to be 180
hours of pure pleasure.  So, I may be dead wrong about my conservative
emotions conserning this machine.  I may just be getting old too.
And, I may change my mind later.  I'd love to see an adaptation of a
turbine engine to one of these, like Joe Rinke has done.  I'd love
nothing better than to see a factory start up that builds a 2 place
turbine powered ship, about like the R-22 but for half the price.  I'd
watch them for about 5 years then if many hundreds were flying and
there were very few problems, I'd probably buy one.

You know, a young man who is not libreral has no heart.  An old man
who is not conservative, has no brain!


On 28 Jun 1998 15:57:31 GMT, (CPeter7) wrote:

>Now imagine. You're flying along at 1000 AGL- in a helicopter. As you
>make a botched entry into autorotation, you start asking yoursef BWB's
>really right-on questions. You get to "was it the..." and BAM! the main
>rotor impacts the 1/16" perspex windscreen and you're DEAD. The reason
>for this unfunny missive is to BEG you to continue to share with this
>group ANY info you come up with on the 582 Rotax, as we rotorheads have a
>dying need to know WHY we're dying. Try calling 1(800)airwolf or visit
>their website (California Power Systems)- Mike Stratman might know the

From: (Badwater Bill)
Newsgroups: rec.aviation.homebuilt
Subject: Re: G-1 Ultralight Helicopter
Date: Sat, 04 Jul 1998 22:03:21 GMT

On 4 Jul 1998 16:19:34 GMT, (CPeter7) wrote:

>Josh, do you have your helicopter rating yet? If you are not rated, call a CFI
>and take a demo flight. If you haven't acted as pilot in command of a
>helicopter, you are committing suicide by trying to build one. No insult, just
>facts, and said to prolong your life so you can design us all a new toy :-)  !!

You know, this comment made by Cpeter7 is something I would have
ignored a year ago out of stupidity on my part but he is DEAD ON with
this advice.  I read your question and I understand your thinking.
I've been down that same trail myself.  There is nothing neater than
the thought of levitating out of your own backyard under a homebuilt
rotor system of some sort.  Flying helicopters is very much like
levitation in many ways.  The problem is that the machines are
EXTREMELY dangerous to handle even if they are perfect mechanically.
They are not hard to build either.  Look at the Mini 500.  That thing
is an easy build.  I'll bet I could put one together in a month.

If you are not a rated helicopter pilot at the present or you are
rated but have never flown anything with a low inertia rotor system
then I would urge you to go rent a couple hours of time in the
Robinson R-22 so you know what you are up against.  As for my
knowledge of this machine you are asking about, I have none.

I think I'm going to go buy an Air Command gyroplane when it cools
down out here this fall.  I'm going to continue to fly helicopters too
but an Air Command with a Rotax 503 is just a ball.  If you fly in
some wind, you can hover a gyroplane too.  The price on a used one is
somewhere around $7k and they are cheap to operate and maintain.  All
of my rotor-head buddies who have flown them say they are just as much
fun as a helicopter and about 100 times safer.

Just a thought.

Good luck!

Badwater Bill

From: (Badwater Bill)
Newsgroups: rec.aviation.homebuilt
Subject: Re: Flight Instruction In the Robie
Date: Thu, 11 Jun 1998 23:35:41 GMT

It's a double edged sword.  With a low inertia rotor system you can
also get the rpm back very quickly if you aren't a dunce.  If the rpm
decays to 85% or so you can drop the collective, pull back on the
cyclic and wind up the blades in a couple seconds.  So, although it
decays fast, you can be back in business in a heartbeat too.  It's
just not for a rookie.  A lot of the training is low rotor rpm
recognition and recovery.  So, when you get your ticket you've been
through it about a hundred times.  If you kill yourself after that
then you're just stupid.

Another reason for low inertia is that you can rap up the blade rpm to
much higher levels and keep the stress under control.  It's pretty
hard to get a retreating blade stall in a Robie because the rotor rpm
is 530.  If I recall correctly, the Hugheys we had in the government
were something like 350 or so.  Also, the lower the inertia the more
responsive the disk is to cyclic inputs.  It's very desirable to have
a highly responsive machine because they are fun to fly once you
master them.  Look at the RV-6.  It's a highly responsive airplane and
that makes it really fun to fly.  I can't stand the way that P-210 of
ours flies.  It flies like a truck as do the bigger Cessnas like the
340, 414, and 421.  Give my an RV-6, Glassair, Lancair or whatever if
I what to go out yanking and banking.

The Robie  is not built for the general run of the mill pilot.  It
takes a lot of skill to fly.  It's not at all like the docile fixed
wings we've been flying our whole life.  This little bastard will bite
you in the ass when you aren't looking and it'll do it in a second of
two.  As a comparison, a Bell Jet Ranger (206) under engine failure
can fly down the entire 5000 foot runway doing turns, then land safely
in a perfect flare.  That's how much inertia is in that system.

Badwater (the knife fighter) Bill

>So why do you want a low-inertia rotor system?  What is the benefit of
>low inertia, to counteract the detriment to ability to autorotate?

From: (Badwater Bill)
Newsgroups: rec.aviation.homebuilt
Subject: Re: Virtual Love Making in an Airplane (long and instructional)
Date: Mon, 15 Jun 1998 21:24:22 GMT

Dear Uncle Bob:  If flying helicopters becomes something that is
essential for life on this planet at some point, the human race will
evolve to have a third arm.  My instructor tells me to pull carb heat
when I reduce power below 18 inches but jumps on me for letting go of
the collective.  I'm twisting, pushing and pulling with my left
arm/hand, I have the stick in my right hand  and both of my feet are
on pedals.  If you let go of anything you go kerbonkers.  I can't even
switch radio frequencies and be safe in that helio chopter without
puting my ass on the line.

God it's fun!


On Sat, 13 Jun 1998 17:17:22 GMT, (Bob U.) wrote:

>While I write this, I'm patting my head up and down with one hand and
>making circle motions on my tummy with the other.  Is this good
>practice for a beginner to fly choppers?
>Don't even ask what I'm using to hit the computer keys with........
>Bob "from the Brantley days" U.

Index Home About Blog