Question: spatial awareness in helos?

killbilly

Vocals, Lyrics, Triangle, Washboard, Kittens
Was watching the local Medevac bird hover-taxi to his spot this week and was struck with a thought - not specific to medevac either:

How do you guys know how much space you have in a given place relative to your rotor disc and tail (boom?) When you're inside the cockpit, it seems like you might have some visual clues or tricks to measure your space, but your tolerances are much tighter than the FW guys, so I figure you have some ways of measuring if you've got enough space visually. Especially with all the helo behind you....Just curious. How do you deal with it?

Been real curious about helos lately. Trying to finish CFI and rejecting the urges that make me want to get dual-rated....

@MikeD @MikeFavinger @Nark @Lawman @USMCmech
 

MikeD

Administrator
Staff member
You have to pre-gauge your eyeballs through experience and just knowing how far your rotor disc goes. Flying different helo types with different disc sizes can make that a bit of a challenge. I land next to a parked fuel point all the time, and its just something you learn.....or have to learn. Otherwise if you do things like always depending on ground markings all the time, you'll inevitably run into a situation that bites you in the ass, because ground markings depend on everything else being in their proper place distance-wise. In helicopters, just as in airplanes, you are responsible to not hit any fixed objects, in addition to being responsible for your rotor wash.

Tail rotor wise, when i land off field, ill generally come to a low hover and if terrain allows, do a 90 degree in-place (pedal) turn to look at where i know my tailboom and rotor will be setting down behnd me. In light helos this is especially important, as the tail rotor is low enough to be able to hit bushes and low obstacles, whereas in larger helicopters this isnt generally an issue with higher or top-mounted tail rotors, although the tailboom structure itself has to always be taken into account that it doesnt come down on top of anything.
 

MikeD

Administrator
Staff member
This is the result of relying on ground landing area markings instead of actually judging whats around you. First helo pulled out of hangar for mx ground run, and is parked in between the two normal parking spaces. Second helo lands at landing point, then hover taxies to its "normal" parking spot, which is infringed by the first helo that is parked in between the spots. Second helo pilot should have seen this and just parked in the landing area.....let the ground crew move his helo whenever they need to later. Ultimately the fauly of the second helo pilot because regardless of the first helo being in the "wrong" spot, the second helo still collided with a parked, non-moving, aircraft. Gotta always look and gauge distances.

 

Lawman

Well-Known Member
Gets even more fun when you restrict/redefine visual position to gauge. That’s the whole purpose of the bag training with Apache, to teach visual perception and memory based off of a series of monocular cues because the sensor is 11 feet in front of you so your aided and unaided eye have effectively competing information especially to objects close to the side.

Geometric perspective
Retinal Image size
Aerial perspective
Motion parallax

Within those are broken down factors like overlapping contours, known size of objects, loss/gain of detail, etc. We all as aviators in some form use it, helicopters just get way more daily exposure to it due to the nature of the flying typical with the type.


And then there is an element of mathematical understanding that goes with it. When your crew member providing you vocal cues says “slide right 10 feet... 5 feet... steady...” it helps to have a known feel of that that movement should look/feel like to execute smoothly.


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MikeD

Administrator
Staff member
Gets even more fun when you restrict/redefine visual position to gauge. That’s the whole purpose of the bag training with Apache, to teach visual perception and memory based off of a series of monocular cues because the sensor is 11 feet in front of you so your aided and unaided eye have effectively competing information especially to objects close to the side.

Geometric perspective
Retinal Image size
Aerial perspective
Motion parallax

Within those are broken down factors like overlapping contours, known size of objects, loss/gain of detail, etc. We all as aviators in some form use it, helicopters just get way more daily exposure to it due to the nature of the flying typical with the type.


And then there is an element of mathematical understanding that goes with it. When your crew member providing you vocal cues says “slide right 10 feet... 5 feet... steady...” it helps to have a known feel of that that movement should look/feel like to execute smoothly.


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Isn't it nice not having to fly a bird with those dirty people wearing these onboard? :D

image.jpeg
 

Lawman

Well-Known Member
For the original question.... spatial awareness as to the body of the helicopter, all its extremities (wings, wheels, tail in NOE and not aerodynamic trim), and the deviating path of the rotor disk....

IMG_0107.JPG



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MikeD

Administrator
Staff member
Unrelated Army question. Are Chinooks no longer Corps-level aviation assets?
 

MikeFavinger

Hubschrauber Flieger
Been real curious about helos lately. Trying to finish CFI and rejecting the urges that make me want to get dual-rated....

@MikeD @MikeFavinger @Nark @Lawman @USMCmech
The other guys covered it all pretty well. I don't have much to add, except...

Do NOT pay for a helicopter rating! You think getting your FW ratings were a long and expensive slog? Triple everything for a rotor rating. And the reward when you're done? Fewer job opportunities and less pay. And if you choose FW as a profession, your rotor time won't do much for you.
 

MikeD

Administrator
Staff member
The other guys covered it all pretty well. I don't have much to add, except...

Do NOT pay for a helicopter rating! You think getting your FW ratings were a long and expensive slog? Triple everything for a rotor rating. And the reward when you're done? Fewer job opportunities and less pay. And if you choose FW as a profession, your rotor time won't do much for you.
My added ATP rotorcraft-helicopter is going to do nothing for me.
 

Lawman

Well-Known Member
Reminds me of this classic...


And thus why you do NOE route surveys....

The rest of that video is even better. Dude was flathatting the whole flight. That’s not to say there isn’t an inherent training value in the type of flight they were doing (high speed NOE under Night Vision System) it just has to be done right not for personal entertainment and impressing your opposite crew member because you’re so bad ass.

Funny enough the PC on the controls was actually on an NOE flight training route designed to take you between those trees. It just hadn’t been an approved and more importantly surveyed route since the last time he was stationed there. So yeah, he’d have fit.... five years earlier.

I’ve had similar conversations with junior pilots flying in similar situations. I’ll fly them down very similar conditions because they need to know and competently be able to execute the same. You do it to exercise the muscle that is coordination and visual scan in what is the most demanding mode. We did it a lot in one unit I was in due to the availability of the training environment but it was canned and planned. The point wasn’t to see how stupid low or fast or sexy you could make your training flight, it was to demonstrate competence and also build endurance in a mode of flight that would be necessary in a high intensity conflict with a peer force. A lot of guys found they could execute... but for 10-20 minutes tops and then they’d get sloppy. As the opposite crew member you were there to monitor that and act as a safety check. When NOE trim starts going that’s usually the big sign. The aircraft has to pass Nose to tail through the same point in space (vs aerodynamic trim for those unfamiliar). If you can’t maintain that your tail is shifting whole feet out left and right of the aircraft. That can and does readily exceed the clearance space available when you start talking about moving like a snake in the weeds because your given window was 20 feet of spread with rotor disk above and level but your tail swung left or right enough it puts it in a Bush.

The unfortunate thing in today’s risk averse communities is we don’t have the experience to evaluate the risk vs the necessity or the community of experience to teach and mentor it well. The guys that taught me low level in the weeds flight were all products of the Cold War when it was the way we did business. Now days the average pilot with thousands of hours has little time in a similar situation. So there’s a lot of community knowledge we lost and are now training to regain. At the same time, I would never argue those guys were anywhere near as good at power management or dust conditions as today’s cadre due to the stuff we’ve been exposed to.




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Lawman

Well-Known Member
I imagine life was better under the Corps level?
Meh, it’s like saying whether you’d rather or not be kissed on the mouth during.... either way you’re •d out to a ground force that’s gonna give you that green weenie.

I’ve been a corps asset, Brigade asset, and a division asset. All that changed was the rank on the shoulder of the guy that told you what he was gonna do to you that night....


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deadstick

Well-Known Member
Hold the phone — @Lawman went to the Hookers?

So how long until he’s saying....”They might have had a good idea way back when...”

30B7A741-9A09-4B1A-9B16-6FCE68561943.jpeg
 

Lawman

Well-Known Member
Hold the phone — @Lawman went to the Hookers?

So how long until he’s saying....”They might have had a good idea way back when...”

View attachment 44104
In fairness I did thoroughly enjoy the MH-6 ride I got in the dark. I had to eat a lot of crow for the crap I’d talked over the years to Kiowa guys about how stupid picking an aircraft just to be doors off was.

But yeah I sold my soul to fly the big girl. I’ll miss the big rig with guns I’m sure, but getting to try and plug a C-130 in the sim that convinced me.




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