Frequently Asked Questions

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Helicopter School Questions & Answers

Q. Are helicopters harder to fly than airplanes?
A. Flying a helicopter is completely different from flying an airplane, but that doesn't mean it's any harder. Airplanes and helicopters have many commonalities and differences. Some people believe that helicopters are more challenging to fly than airplanes, but each studen'ts experience will vary.

Q. How do you control a helicopter?
A. Helicopters utilize four main controls: the cyclic ("stick"), collective, throttle and anti-torque pedals. The cyclic tilts the main rotor disc and splits the vertical component of lift. The helicopter will then move in the direction that the rotor disc is tilted. The collective controls the pitch of the rotor blades. As you move the collective it simultaneously (or collectively) pitches all of the rotor blades. The throttle regulates the engine r.p.m. The anti-torque pedals control the direction the nose is pointing and are used to counteract the torque of the main rotor blades..

Q. What happens in the unlikely event of an engine failure?
A. In the rare case of an engine failure, the rotor blades are disengaged from the engine by means of a freewheeling unit, allowing the rotor blades to continue to spin at normal flight speeds. Then, the pilot performs an "autorotation".

Q. What is autorotation?
A. An emergency procedure, autorotation is a descending maneuver where the engine is disengaged from the main rotor system and rotor blades are driven solely by the upward flow of air through the rotor. This procedure allows the helicopter to land in the event of an engine failure.

Q. Will the helicopter spin out of control if the tail rotor quits?
A. In forward flight the helicopter will tend to weather vain and not spin out of control. To land the aircraft you can enter an autorotation. In autorotation the torque of the main rotor is eliminated.

Q. Are helicopters more restricted due to weather?
A. Helicopters can generally handle high winds better than airplanes. However, comparably priced planes are usually better equipped for icing and low-visibility flying

Q. Can I obtain a helicopter pilot certificate if I wear glasses?
A. Yes, providing that you are able to pass the medical with your glasses or contact lenses on. The only requirement then is that you will need to wear your glasses or contacts when flying.

Q. When may I begin to fly?
A. Immediately. However, you will need to apply for certain certificates, as described in this guide, in preparation for solo flight.

Q. Is there a set number of flight instructional hours I will receive before I solo?
A. No. The instructor will not allow you to solo until you have learned to perform certain maneuvers. These maneuvers include safe takeoffs and landings. You must be able to maintain positive control of the aircraft at all times and to use good judgment.

Q. Is flying safe?
A. Well-built and well-maintained aircraft flown by a competent and prudent pilot make flying as safe or safer than many other forms of transportation.

Q. If engine failure occurs, what will happen?
A. Modern helicopter engines are very reliable and complete engine failure is a rare occurrence. If the improbable does happen, however, you will not "fall out of the sky." Just do what the instructor had you practice during lessons; select a good landing area and land.

Q. When do I need a medical certificate?
A. You will need a medical certificate prior to solo flight. It is suggested you obtain your medical certificate prior to beginning flight training. This will assure you are aware of any condition which could prevent you from obtaining a medical prior to making a financial investment in helicopter training.

Q. When do I need a Student Pilot Certificate?
A. Prior to solo flight.

Q. If required, how do I get a medical certificate?
A. By passing a physical examination administered by a doctor who is an FAA-authorized aviation medical examiner.

Q. How do I obtain a Student Pilot Certificate?
A. Upon your request, a combination medical certificate and Student Pilot Certificate will be issued by an FAA-authorized aviation medical examiner upon the satisfactory completion of your physical examination. Student Pilot Certificates may be issued by an FAA inspector or an FAA-designated pilot examiner. Applicants who fail to meet certain requirements or who have physical disabilities which might limit, but not prevent, their acting as pilots, should contact the nearest Flight Standards District Office (FSDO).

Q. What are the requirements for a Student Pilot Certificate?
A. To be eligible for a Student Pilot Certificate, a person must:

1.be at least 16 years of age.
2.be able to read, speak, and understand the English language.
3.hold at least a current Third-Class Medical Certificate.

Q. Where do I get my medical certificate?
A. From any FAA-authorized aviation medical examiner. There are approximately 6,000 doctors who are FAA-authorized aviation medical examiners.

Q. Where can I get a list of FAA-authorized aviation medical examiners?
A. The FAA publishes a directory which lists all FAA-authorized aviation medical examiners by name and address. Copies of this directory are available at all FSDOs, air traffic control facilities, and flight service stations. Airport managers and some aviation operators may also be able to supply this information. Or Online here!

Q. When required, what class of medical certificate must a student pilot have?
A. Third-class, although any class will suffice. Medical certificates are designated as first-class, second-class, or third-class. Generally, the first-class is designed for the airline transport pilot; the second-class for the commercial pilot; and the third-class for the student and private pilot.

Q. If I have a physical disability, is there any provision for obtaining a medical certificate?
A. Yes. Medical certificates can be issued in many cases where physical disabilities are involved. Depending upon the certificate held and the nature of the disability, operating limitations may be imposed. If you have any questions, contact an FAA-authorized aviation medical examiner prior to beginning flight training.

Q. How long are my Student Pilot Certificate and my medical certificate valid?
A. A student pilot certificate is valid for 24 calendar months. Under the new regulation, third class medicals issued to pilots under age 40 became valid for a maximum of 60 months up from 36 months. Pilots who are age 40 and older will still renew a third class medical every 24 months.

Q. May my Student Pilot Certificate be renewed?
A. No, but a new Student Pilot Certificate may be issued by an: 1. FAA-authorized aviation medical examiner, upon completion of the required examination.
2.FAA inspector or FAA-designated pilot examiner if you already hold a valid medical certificate or if you are not required to hold a medical certificate.

Q. If my original Student Pilot Certificate has been endorsed for solo, do I lose this endorsement on my new certificate?
A. The endorsements are still valid, but are not transferred to the new certificate. Retain the old certificate as a record of these endorsements.

Q. Should my flight instructor endorse my Student Pilot Certificate before or after my first solo flight?
A. The endorsement on the Student Pilot Certificate certifying that the holder is competent to solo must be made by the flight instructor prior to the first solo flight.

Q. If I solo in more than one make and model aircraft, must I have an endorsement for each on my Student Pilot Certificate? If so, who should endorse the certificate?
A. Yes. A flight instructor must make this endorsement prior to the first solo flight in each make and model aircraft.

Q. Does the endorsement to solo permit me to make solo cross-country flights?
A. No. The flight instructor must specifically endorse the Student Pilot Certificate to permit cross-country flights.

Q. Must I carry my Student Pilot Certificate on my person when I am piloting a helicopter in solo flight?
A. Yes.

Q. Must I have my medical certificate or certified statement in my personal possession when I am piloting a helicopter in solo flight?
A. Yes.

Q. Is there a charge for the Student Pilot Certificate?
A. Not when the Student Pilot Certificate is issued by a FSDO. However, an FAA-designated pilot examiner is allowed to charge a reasonable fee for issuing Student Pilot Certificates, and executing the necessary reports. The FAA-authorized aviation medical examiner will charge a fee for the physical examination in connection with issuing the combination medical and Student Pilot Certificate.

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