Thursday, December 9, 2010

The Doug Doty Vertical Flight Foundation

I wrote about Doug's accident.  That left a big hole in a lot of people's lives.  Well, his wife, Jesika turned a lot of that horrible event into something fantastic.

The Doug Doty Vertical Flight Foundation,

The website says it best:

Our mission

The Doug Doty Vertical Flight Foundation, a 501(c)(3) organization (pending), was founded by Jesika Doty in 2010 after the death of her husband, a flight instructor, in a helicopter training accident. The foundation is dedicated to helping helicopter pilots pursue their dream of flying, keeping Doug's dream alive through them, as well as bridging a gap between the time spent as a flight instructor and getting the first turbine job.
The Doug Doty Vertical Flight foundation's mission is to help where help is needed most. Our focus currently is on providing scholarships for turbine transition certification (after all we need to start somewhere), however, we are always on the look-out for other opportunites. Opportunites where we can have a positive impact on the industry.

and why

Today, the industry requires a minimum of 1200 hrs if not 1500 hrs of total flight time along with turbine experience. Many schools are releasing their flight instructors at 1,000 hrs.
This is the gap.
This is what the foundation hopes to help fill. Being able to provide scholarships for turbine transition time will help these pilots find their first turbine position. It won't do all the work for them, as they will need to find ways to continue building flight hours, but it will help where help is needed most.  It will help those pilots that are determined and skilled, so that one day, they may be helping you.
Prior to his death, Doug wanted to eventually become an EMS pilot. Both Doug and Jesika saw that this path would be difficult as the helicopter industry was changing. There were not as many opportunities to gain valuable experience such as turbine time, if you had less than 1500 hours. They saw this gap, that was created in the industry, and were working on ideas of how to bridge this gap for themselves when Doug's accident occurred.
Moving forward, Jesika felt that helping other pilots would enable her to continue the legacy that Doug left. She is not ready to get in the pilot's seat but has a strong belief that if we do not help the pilots that are in this gap, then, not only the industry will suffer in the long run, but we, as individuals, will suffer.
Have you read the story about the sick child needing the services of Life Flight? Or maybe on the news you saw someone being air lifted from an accident site? What about those that fight forest fires or fly mountain rescues? All of these pilots have thousands of hours of turbine experience. The majority of them may not have had to deal with this gap. They went from being a CFI to sitting in a turbine helicopter receiving training at their first job and probably only had 1,000 hrs under their belt. This doesn't happen anymore.

we need you

This is why we need your help and support. Doug wanted to help people. He wanted to make a difference and he relished in the fact that he could make a difference while doing something that he loved.
He made a difference in many people's lives as a flight instructor, a husband, a father and a person. The contribution that you make to this foundation makes a difference not only in a pilot's life but possibly a life down the road. A difference that Doug would be proud to see and humbled by.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Flying in North Jersey... forgettaboutit!

So, we've relocated from Portland, OR to Bryn Mawr, PA and during the transition I've not been able to fly... at all... for about 2 months.  Was starting to get the shakes from the lack of 100LL in my blood. Scary.

Luckily I've got a new friend out here, Jefferson, who runs HeliFlights.Net.  Jefferson actually got his CFI from Jerry Trimble - same as me - so I know he's got a very high standard for his students.  He is a great pilot and put aside some time to fly with me a little bit.  Luckily I remembered to keep the big spinny part on top.

Nothing particularly interesting from the flying side, just a few patterns, some quick-stops and maneuvers.  Just getting used to the airspace, airport and helicopter.  Nothing but good.

View Larger Map

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Robinson R22 Pre-Flight Checklist - Website

I was just passed this very well done R22 Pre-Flight Checklist page that someone took a lot of time to do and post.  Really worth a view if you fly R22s.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Filling in the history...

As you will see, there is a horrendous gap between May 2009 and February 2010.  I have been flying, studying, and testing all during that period, but had not blogged about it.

Lots of reasons, honestly. Some to "protect" people involved and to not hurt any feelings, and well, I just ran low on time.  Family, work, and life take precedence over blogging and they got the attention.

Now, I'll go back in and fill in some of the empty space.  I plan to back-date the entries to approximately the same time I would have made them.  One of the great benefits of having a pilot log book... I know exactly what I did on any given flight day.  I'll mark them with the "backdate" label, and also mention it at the top of the entry.

Enjoy, and please feel free to ask any/all questions - as usual.

CFI Checkride Details : Part 2 : The final chapter.

Yup, that's right, yesterday I became a Certified Flight Instructor : Rotorcraft Helicopter.

Been a long journey, but boy does it feel good.

So, from the previous entries you have probably seen that this the 2nd face to face with my DPE, Ron G.  I now understand why he wanted me back.  

First of all, I did not fail the first Check Ride - meaning I was not issues a "Letter of Discontinuation" denying my application the first time. He just wanted me to brush up on something before he was willing to sign.  Basically, the "examiner is always right". 

Turns out that while he thought my explanation for why blade flapping reduces lift on the advancing blade was thin, it was correct. (Phew!)  He just did not like the way I got to the point.  I could have certainly explained it much better the first time, but I didn't.  So, after getting his comments to come back again, I dug in deep.  Way deep into the Wagtendonk text.  If you are not familiar with this book and are reading (and understanding the technical aspects) of my blog... you probably should be.  It is fantastically elaborate and detailed.  So much so, that it is probably the worst book for a Private student.  Too much detail. Too much theory. Too much physics and math for the introductory student.  But, if you want to know exactly why a rotor blade does xxx or yyy, this is your source of truth.

So, I dug in, and learned it.  I know all about force vectors, resultant vectors, inflow angles, blade planes, etc.  I can explain it pretty damn well now.

I took all that knowledge down to Ron, threw it up on the white board and stepped back, all proud of what I had done. The look on his face was rather like Carl Fredrickson from Up. Actually, he really does have a Carl look in general.

Anyway, he says, "Nope, missed it again".  Shit.  SHIT!. How could I possibly have missed this?  I know I'm right, I even have the book in my bag.  I can cite references!

"You are going the wrong direction here.  Sure, your explanation is correct, but I have no idea what the hell you are talking about, and neither will your students. Sit down, listen."

So, Ron proceeds to tell me how he would do it.  He clenches up his hand... and swings (slowly) at me:

Ron: "Where is the Relative Wind?"
Me: "Coming from..."
Ron: "No, show me.  With your hand."

Ron: "Great. Right. Now, where it the Relative Wind?"

Ron: "Great. Right. Now, where it the Relative Wind?"

Ron: "Great. Right.  My point here is I just explained Relative Wind to you without vectors, without math, without all that crap you put up on the board.  Your student will understand this, they may not understand that.", as he gestures to my 4 color vector diagram explaining relative wind.  

Ron:  "Relative Wind is opposite in direction to the movement of an object."

Me:  "Right, opposite and equal in magnitude to the direction of an airfoil..."

Ron:  "No! Well, yes.. but no.  Why magnitude?  Why airfoil?  Don't cloud the issue here. This is simple, and your student must understand this fully before they will understand any of the stuff to follow.  Got it?!"

Ok, got his point here.  I'm not trying to impress my students with my physics and math background... I'm trying to teach a very complex concept of lift to someone who probably does not have any interest at this stage.  Some day they will.. just not right now. 

So, then I went on to simply explain how mixing "2 winds" from different directions produces Resultant Wind in a different direction than the first two.  Ron used a good, and simple, example of a stream of water from a garden hose can be deflected by another stream of water to produce a mixed stream going somewhere else.

Bamm... we have Resultant Relative Wind.  Relative Wind across a rotor blade, mixed with the 'wind' from Induced Flow creates a new Resultant Relative Wind across the rotor blade.  this new wind is at a different angle than the original and will give us a new angle of attack on the blade.  Hence a change in lift.  

Ok, so I think he was rather unclear about what he wanted me to do on my 2nd run at this... but he's right.  I dove in way too deep... and I should have gone shallow.

Point taken sir... point taken.

After a bit of light discussion he congratulated me and asked for my final paperwork and ID.  

Boom goes the dynamite.  

While he was at it, I asked him for my SFAR73 200hr endorsement.  Which he happily gave me, and I immediately entered into my logbook.  

That was it.  The end. I made it.  Phew!

Afterwords I asked Ron if he would mind giving me a quick tour of the facilities at HTS Helicopters, in particular the Sikorsky SkyCrane helicopters they have on site.

All I can say is WOW.  Those things are absolutely amazing. The one above is from Evergreen Aviation, and not in HTS' fleet.  Although they just did buy a few from them, at about 26M a piece.  

As you can see, they are massive.  I believe I read on the underbelly by the hook that they have a max lift capacity of 25,000lbs.  The legs could easily straddle a 18 wheel semi truck.

Couple of interesting facts.  The skycranes
  • ...burn approximately 500gal of fuel per hour.
  • ...have approximately 1500gal fuel tanks.
  • ...cost about $500 to start-up and immediately shut down.
  • ...have a low inertia rotor system.  I mean, it is all relative I guess.  But the point is that they are paid to lift... and the first thing a helicopter lifts before it picks up is its own rotor blades.
Thanked him for the tour and the "beating", and headed home. Tired, happy and proud.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Friday, January 29, 2010

CFI : Checkride : Part 1

It has been a long time coming… but today was the day; CFI Checkride day.  I was both physically and mentally ready for the session, and I felt good going in to this one.  Not at all like last time.

The day started out early, at about 5:30am when I got up, got ready, grabbed a pop-tart and some coffee from the local espresso hut.  I had loaded the car up with my 100lbs of books and lesson plans the night before.  A quick check of weather and a small update of my flight plan(Oregon mornings in January pretty much start out the same… 7-9ºC, 29.95-29.98) and I was on the road.

After getting settled in on the road to McMinneville to pick up Jerry's "Old Yeller" for the flight to Corvalis, I called in to 800-WX-Brief to file my flight plan and get a standard weather briefing.  Outlook looked pretty darn good for the flight down, minus a few AIRMET Sierra's in the valleys to the West and a AIRMET Zulu for 10kft.  10kft does not mean much to a Robinson pilot, although mountain obscurement and low level mist/fog tend to stick to the numerous little hills and valleys around here.  The outlook for my flight back was good, but had the potential to get hair near sunset.  With all luck, I'd be out of there before 3pm, so all systems go.

In a practical proof of Murphy's Law, just as I passed Newberg, OR (about 10 minutes North of McMinneville), the front driver-side tire on my Mini Cooper S decided to blow out.  Yup, that is right, 15 minutes before my flight to my CFI checkride I have a total blow-out.  Luckily the Mini has fun flat tires, and a blow out in that car consists of a loud puff of air, slight left drift, and a console warning light.  I pulled over to check out the damage, grabbed my tire pressure gauge figured I would see if it was really an issue or just a false working. I checked the pressure in front… no reading.  Great, and now my tire gauge is shot!  Checked the back tire… 38.5psi.  Hmmm… could it be a total blow out?  I figured I would rub my hands along the tread and come across a mega nail or something.  Nope.  How about the back sidewall?  Reached around and instantly and put my finger into a 2in x .5in hole on the inboard sidewall of the tire.   Total blowout.  0psi.

I gotta say, If it were not for the run-flats, the day would have been over then and there.  The run-flats let the Mini limp along at <55mph for <100 miles - so day was saved - somewhat.

I pulled in to McMinneville about 10 minutes late to see Jerry Trimble just using a very cool portable generator to warm up the Helicopter via the electrical block heater.  "Old Yeller" is Jerry's newest helicopter in the fleet; a Robinson R-22 HP - bumble bee yellow. Nice ship.  Jerry keeps his helicopters in tip-top shape; he just did a track and balance the previous day, and it was ready for me.

I've got to say, the electrical generator and electric engine-block heater is a great combo. Fast and not as tricky as the propane driven hair-dryers that I used before at Hillsboro Aviation.  I suppose each has their benefit, but this method seemed a little more civilized.

After some chit-chat with Jerry, I belted my bag of books and lesson plans into the CFI side of Old Yeller and did my morning pre-flight inspection.  All go.  Jerry disconnected the generator and heater and hung around just until I got the engine started - just in case.  Of course, no problems and I picked up.  Have to say, it is rather nice to have some weight in the left seat on a solo… CG is just better.

I climbed out into a cool, clear MMV day.  Headed west and met up with Route 99W for my travels down to CVO. It was an IFR flight.  (In this case, IFR means I Follow Roads. :)  I called up McMinneville Radio to open my previously filed flight plan and got another all clear on the weather.

Flight down was enjoyable and uneventful.  Winter mornings, in Oregon, are quite dramatic.  There is usually thick mist/fog hanging in the valleys and on the mountain tops - sticking to all the fir trees.  As the morning warmed up and we got a little breeze it all dissipates and you get a nice reveal of what makes the Pacific Northwest such a visually impressive place to fly. 

I've been down this way number of times, but I like to have as much in-flight information as possible.  As such, I fly with my iPhone affixed to my kneeboard, running the Motion GPS application.  I have pre-programmed it with about 30 or so GPS coordinates of local airports and VORs.  It gives me a non FAA Approved HSI analog that I use as information to backup my pilotage and dead reckoning.  In 99% of the cases I just use it for the distance to the airport.  I like to make radio calls at 10, 5, 2, an 1nm out.  May be a little excessive, but there are a lot of uncontrolled and private airports around here and I'd rather fail to the side of safety.

Wind was from 180@3 so I called a straight in, 1 mile final to Runway 17.  Floated in and aimed for the touch-down stripes.  Crossed over the runway to the north of the wind indicator / segmented circle.

View Larger Map

Crossed over 9-27 via the taxiway and parked on the first chevron near the FBO.  I shut down Old Yeller, did a post-flight walk around and called Jerry to let him know I made it in one piece.  He likes to know when his people land at their destination - just the kind of guy he is.  I'm sure I'd be the same way.

I grabbed my bags, had and headed over to the Helicopter Transport Services (HTS) building where I was to meet my Designated Pilot Examiner (DPE), Ron G.  I walked in, but there was not a soul to be found.  Of course at that point, I thought… "great, I'm in the wrong building!".  I walked back outside and looked for another entrance and found none.  I called Jerry on his mobile, again, to see if I he could give another direction on where to meet Ron.  Jerry validated I was in the right spot… just no DPE.  This is the, completely normal everyday occurrence, that throws me off balance on CheckRide day. 

Eventually I met up with Ron and took a seat in his office.  Clearly a busy man as he was on the phone 15 minutes before we actually got to talking.  He was very polite and apologetic for the delay.  In that time, I got to survey his office and get a little visibility into the mind that is Ron.  He is very organized in his own way, but has a good deal of clutter in his office.  I could tell by his 250 well labeled, 3-Ring binders that his a man for records and process.  He had a few pictures drawn by his children, and various computers in places.  Seems like we're going to get a long well.  Ordered chaos abounds.

Once we got things started, at about 9:45am, we started with a bit of chit-chat; or as Jerry calls it, "Foreplay".  It does help break the tension and did make me quite a bit more relaxed with what was about to come.  Ron is just a guy, not a hard-assed judge wanting to break my spirit and cause me to fail.

He started off with a very standard question; "Why did you become a pilot?"  That, of course, can be anything for anybody, and we spend 5 or 10 discussing each of our motivations.  While it did not get us any closer to the CFI Check Ride, it was just good conversation.

Ron kicked off the examination with a thorough look at my Logbook / Certificates / Medicals.  No point in starting the process if I ended up not being legally prepared to continue.  This went rather quickly, and I had all required information, test results, endorsements, identification and 8710 available.  From there we jumped right in.

He asked me to, using PTS, to "design your own checkride examination".  Actually, quite an interesting and probing question.  You better be pretty damn familiar with the PTS to design your own checkride.  There are very specific requirements in the PTS for the CFI checkride and I think his purpose for setting me off on this task was to make sure I knew my way thought the PTS.  It took me about 10 or 15 minutes to write out a 2 page, high-level outline.  During this time he set off for a quick hallway meeting with another HTS employee.  When he returned, I handed it over to him and he seemed pleased that it was complete.

Putting my selection for examination topics aside, he went by his own "outline".  First he started by asking some thought provoking questions about the PTS and Fundamentals of Instruction (FoIs).  A word to the wise for anyone who comes across Ron in their future checkride paths… he loves questions with many wrong answers and no right ones.  What do I mean by that?  Well, things like, "What is the most important characteristic of a CFI? and Why?" and "Give the single choice of 'Critique' or 'Evaluation' what would you pick?  and Why?".  It is definitely an interesting tactic to use.  No only do you have to know the entire subject completely, meaning you need to know all the characteristics of a CFI, but you need to understand them deeply enough to make a good attempt at picking the best.  Then, on top of all that, you need to be able to defend your selection.

This FoI topic continued for about 45 minutes.  More than half was conversational discussion around topics.  I feel like he understood I had the basic knowledge, but kept the dialog doing to see if I knew the correlation between the learned knowledge and how to apply it to students.  I had told him that I did quite a bit of teaching in undergraduate and graduate school.  I suppose I'm pretty comfortable in that scenario and it hopefully came through.

From there we jumped, heavily, into the PTS.  Let me stress this… Ron is a master of the PTS.  He knows it inside and out, frontwards and backwards… and I would be surprised if he could not recite entire pages by heart.  He loves it, and expects you to as well.  Anyway, one of the standard "Ron-ish" questions came up; "What is the most important part of the PTS?".  This question brought up about 45 minutes of discussion around the Introduction.  If I had to put the PTS Introduction into a few sentences, it is, "The Introduction to the PTS acts as the rules of engagement for all that follows.  It lays out requirements for passing and failure of candidates."

I don't plan to explain ever question and answer put to me in my session… but just be familiar with the PTS.  You can ignore the following:
    - the inside of the cover,
    - the last 3 pages,
    - and the inside of the back cover.
Go get your PTS.. check out those pages… you can skip those.

Next we reviewed regulations on CFI logbook entries, record keeping, certificates, endorsements.  This should come as no surprise to the CFI candidate coming up for their Check Ride.  This stuff it pretty obvious and straight forward.  They are regulation and you have all been through the Private and Commercial regulation cycles.  You should know 'em.  No surprises here.

Ron then dove into performance.  A rather out of the box question, actually.  The question was, "How many lbs of weight can 1" of manifold pressure lift in a R22?".  I can honestly say that I had never come across this question in any of my training, but all the information you need to solve this is in the PoH.  The discussion was pretty lively and I truly enjoyed chasing this one down. I gave him a reasonable answer by applying known theory.  Once satisfied at my response, we moved on to blade flapping.

Ron started off saying that dissymetry of lift is an aerodynamic phenomena that is counteracted by blade flapping.  Without teaching a lesson here, the advancing blade flaps up, the retreating blade flaps down.  As the blade flaps up, the angle of attack decreases and we lose lift on that blade.  The blade that flaps down increases AOA and increases lift.  Great.  Now comes the question.  "Why?".  Wow, with that one question he sent me into a spiral.  I really did not have a good answer as to why, and I quickly admitted that fact, but I gave him an answer that I would honestly give to a student, "Honestly, I don't know the answer, but if you want to research it with me right now, we will find it.".  He liked this response, and let me dive into my books.

Well, about 20 minutes later I had a pretty good idea.  I had drawn about 15 pictures of rotor blades at various phases of blade flap in multiple view angles with their resultant force vectors.  Think one of the scenes in "Beautiful Mind".  Unfortunately, as he said, "You are going to kick yourself when you actually get this.  You are circling the answer, very closely… you just need one more step to get you to the answer.  Lets move on."

Wham, there it is, with that single question "why?" he found a true and honest hole in my knowledge of helicopter aerodynamics.  No reason to beat around the bush with it… he got me.  But, I think the fact that I admitted it and said that right up front kept me from failing right then and there.  I'll come back to this a little later.

We talked then about Settling With Power, and with the obvious hole illustrated with the previous question, I gave him what he needed.

He, then, asked me to prepare a lesson on anything I chose.  I prepared a 20 minute lesson on the Lift Formula, Low Rotor Blade Stall and Low Rotor RPM identification and recovery.  I got to say, I'm really proud of myself for this.  I was really in my element here and I used the white board to illustrate my points.  During the entire presentation, he sat back and just nodded. I asked pertinent questions to "probe the understanding of my student", and he played right along.  About halfway thorough he asked if he could start in on his lunch.   At the end of my lesson he said, "well done, why don't you grab your lunch and head out and pre-flight he helicopter."

I asked for the number of the CVO FBO fuel truck, and I gave them a quick call to request fuel.  After adding 2gal of fuel I finished the pre-flight and was ready to rock and roll.  Ron strolled out a few minutes later and jumped in the right seat. 

I kicked off the flight by asking if how he wanted me to "treat" him; as a student or as a DPE?  I suppose I was most interested about carb heat.  Left seat in the Robinson makes pulling carb heat a bit difficult.  Honestly, I thin this is one of the failing in the R22.  As a CFI you don't want to let go of that collective for any longer than you absolutely have to.  Reaching over or under your knee to pull carb heat may take 1-2 seconds.  Depending on your student this might be .999 seconds too long.  So, I asked.  He said he would be more than happy handle the carb heat for me.  Good.  One less thing for me to do in flight.  Cockpit resource management, baby!

I asked for the startup checklist and began the startup procedures.  I have a tendency to talk this whole process out loud and mark my position with my thumb as I do it.  It has always been one of my things and I think as a CFI it is a good way to help the student know where they are as well.  Plus, when taking a passenger on a scenic, they seem receptive to the whole thing as it helps them understand what is going on.  Some are quite interested in how these things work as it is, and hearing you call out that "magnetos, check" seems to give them a thrill.  On the other hand, if you are a very knowledgeable pilot I sound crazy.  So, just prepped him for that.

He did like to ask questions and chit-chat during my startup, but I think that was purely to see if he could get me to skip something on the checklist, but no…  I mark my progress with my thumb.  Not catching me on that.

We picked up and took off with a normal departure.  We headed East and did some straight & level, controlled turns to specific headings and then validated "best rate of climb" and the fact that power usage is different at 40, 60, and 70 knots.  He had a few questions about various Robinson specifics, VNE, max weight, etc.  After about 10 minutes he had me head back to that airport and pointed out a nice confined area. 

View Larger Map

This is, clearly, a space he comes to often because it was perfect, about 75f wide and 400ft long and surrounded by 75foot trees.    Certainly not a place I would take a private student, but Commercial and CFI… it was a great test.  I'm pretty sure I could have refused it and he would have picked another, but it really seemed good at first glance.  I did a high reconnaissance left orbit for AWOTFEEL and found the space to be suitable.  Came in on for a steep approach and cleared the trees on the leading edge by about 40ft.  I came in to a gentle hover about 75ft from the end of the space.  He then asked, "how do you plan to get out now?".  Gentle 180º in Old Yeller and headed back to the furthest point and turned back around again.  Nice max performance on the way out.  There was no wind, so it was a bit on the close side on the way out.  Not dangerous or concerning, but with two big guys in there we needed every bit of power for our climb. 

After we were out of the confined area he asked me to do a normal pattern on the "Closed west taxiway".  I've got to say, this is a pathetic excuse for a taxiway.  Cracks, puddles, mud.  Sure, it is closed, but geez, what a poor excuse.  Looked like a back road at the beach.  Anyway, came in for a normal approach and then took off for another "survey" of the pattern area.  About 2/3 of the way down the taxiway there is a 6x6 foot box with an "H" painted in day-glo orange.  This was going to be my "target" going forward.  The next time around he asked for a steep approach and executed that flawlessly.  He then asked for a rapid deceleration / quickstop and knocked that out without any issues.

He asked for an autorotation with a power recovery on the next time around.  I came in a little hot the first time. I have to say that "target" is pretty hard to see. Anyway, I entered the auto smoothly, got RPM under control and started my glide.  Within the first 5 seconds I got a clear view of the landing pad and was able to recognize that I would be about 100ft high if I let it go, so I called a "Go Around" and recovered at about 400ft.  Next time around I entered a earlier and was about 5 ft short of the spot.  He asked for another "autorotation with a power recovery".  I think I knew he was going to want a touch down, but played right along.  Came in, same as before, and right at the flare I felt him take grip of the throttle.  I knew this was going to be my surprise touchdown and just got ready.  As I touched down I was slightly right of center and drifted slightly left.  I would would have preferred a centerline slide, but given that it was a "surprise" I was OK with my performance. 

Once we stopped, he said "I guess that was your touch-down, eh?".  I said that I guessed so, and motioned to the collective on his side.  He responded with a "What, I didn't do anything."  Ok, whatever.

He asked me to do a hover autorotation.  I picked up, and turned to the left by about 30º to line up with something in the distance.  "Eyes outside, hand all the way around the throttle, establish a smooth and low hover, in 3, 2, 1, roll off throttle, correct heading with pedals, wait and raise collective to the max."   Now, I know this is going to sound like I'm bragging.  And, well, I am.  That was the best hover auto I've ever had… no question.  There was almost no perceptible contact with the taxiway.  Seriously, like falling into a 150lb marshmallow.  Heading control was spot on as well.  Maybe 1º right deviation?

Ron then asked, "Well, was that within commercial PTS standards?" and I said, "Yes, sir… well within." with a grin.   "Well then, take me back to parking, please."

And that was it.

As soon as I touched down, he said, "Flight was enjoyable and I'm happy with your performance there.  The oral went well, except for your explanation of flapping.  You were very close and reasoned it out pretty well, but you never got it completely.  I'd like to have an additional conversation on the topic after you have some review with your CFI.  I'm not going to charge you or anything, I just want you to know this stuff completely."

So, I'm not done yet.  Not a pass, not certainly not a fail.  Honestly, I feel very good about the whole thing.  While I would have loved to have been done, I really feel that I held my own with one serious DPE.  He did find, and exploit, a true and honest weakness in my knowledge.  Unfortunately neither my Private or Commercial training ever answered the question, "Why does a blade flapping up reduce lift?

I've been studying the answer to this question and will be taking that knowledge back down to Ron in Corvalis next week.

Stay tuned…