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Old 28th Mar 2006, 16:46   #1 (permalink)
 
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What are the differences between flying a helicopter and an airplane?

To those of you that have experienced it, what are the differences between flying a helicopter and an airplane?

IN EVERY ASPECT, actual flying of course, but also professionalism of the group and environment, economically, etc.??

If you transitioned from one to the other, what was your transition like?

I myself left flying helicopters to fly Hawker business jets for a little more than a year, I have lots of impressions, but I wan't to hear yours first.
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Old 28th Mar 2006, 17:08   #2 (permalink)
 
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Basically, in a fixed wing aircraft you take your hands off of the controls and say "look, no hands!" In a helicopter you take your hands off of the controls and say "look, NOOOoooooo!"
Sorry, couldn't resist
Wiz
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Old 28th Mar 2006, 17:24   #3 (permalink)
 
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When you get cramp in your leg you get dizzy.
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Old 28th Mar 2006, 17:48   #4 (permalink)
 
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Hey Blender,

I went the other direction, from FW to rotary.

In FW I flew lots of off-strip type work in the mountains, big tires, skiis etc in the summer, and IFR turbo-prop stuff in the winter, with one year spent abroad Base Managing for a large U.S. based outfit.

When I made the move to RW, I thought I knew quite a bit about hands and feet type flying, wind, mountain work, high altitudes etc, etc - I was in for a surprise! Those envirnoments are very tough in a light airplane, but are much more complex in a helicopter, with the consequenses of a screw-up coming faster and harder.

I've also been very impressed with the maintainance and overall attitude in the Rotary world. Things are done better, AME's are more concerned with getting things done right than quickly, and the level of pay is much better. I think this probably has something to do with it.

Perhaps the most interesting difference is the attitude. In Utility rotary work, you need the skills to do the job, long-lining(siesmic, drill moves, construction), mountain work etc. If you don't have those skills, you simply cannot do those jobs. In IFR FW, much like IFR RW, you don't need these hands and feet/decision making skills, and most anybody can be put in the seat and do a reasonable job of it. Because of that, there are HUGE egos walking around, thinking they're God's Gift, but in reality, their greatest ability lies in tieing a half-windsor and applying hair gel in the morning.... In Utility RW work, you walk the walk, or you just don't talk. You can move that diamond drill, or you can't, and everyone knows it. In FW, most pilots I came across in the IFR side of things couldn't fly their way out of a paper bag, yet would have you believe they're the second coming of Geoffory DeHavilnd/Chuck Yeager depending on your country of orgin.

I think there is a level of pride in VFR rotary work that doens't exist in most FW/IFR RW applications, because of the level of skill involved. Now, RW pilots are not the spit and polished bunch that most FW guys/girls are, but their proffesionalism lies in the way they do their jobs, not how they're dressed, or the Mach number their machine cruises at.

Just my 2 cents,

RH
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Old 28th Mar 2006, 18:05   #5 (permalink)

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RemoteHook,

Having also "crossed and recrossed the great divide" a number of times I can fully relate to that view.

Flying fixed wing is generally where you have f*** all to do and someone to help you do it. Rotary wing is where you have it all to do and NO-ONE to help you do it.

The fixed wing flying job usually ends at the destination. The rotary wing job usually BEGINS at the destination.
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Old 28th Mar 2006, 18:13   #6 (permalink)
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ShyTorque
The fixed wing flying job usually ends at the destination. The rotary wing job usually BEGINS at the destination.
Very well put!

RH
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Old 28th Mar 2006, 18:17   #7 (permalink)
 
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In one, you land, and then stop.
In the other, you stop, then you land.

Everything else is academic.
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Old 28th Mar 2006, 18:22   #8 (permalink)
 
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I've always felt that a helicopter is a tool which can enable you to complete a particular task that can't be done by anything else.

An aeroplane is a mode of transport
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Old 28th Mar 2006, 18:43   #9 (permalink)
 
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You can doze off in a plane but certainly not in a helicopter
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Old 28th Mar 2006, 19:56   #10 (permalink)
 
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i'm just about to do my helicopter add-on over in the states. I like the idea of having a helicopter in the near future but if I could only have one then it would be the plane.

We have a serious plane it's a SE turbo-prop pressurised and has a range of over 1000 miles all for about $1m practically brand new glass cockpit and all the works....

With a helicopter for the same money what can you really do. Get between relatively short distances in comfort but if you wanted to fly in bad weather to say Nice or something. You can't.

Helicopters aren't as nerdy as fw pilots though. They seem more switched on if you ask me.
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Old 28th Mar 2006, 23:49   #11 (permalink)
 
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Well, I engineer on both, and it was put simply to me one day....

Fixed Wing is a necessity for transport and recreational activities, but....
Rotary Wing aircraft are work horses, built for a purpose, to carry out a purpose.

That theory may have changed over the years with new corporate config choppers arriving, but that was the explanation.
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Old 29th Mar 2006, 01:08   #12 (permalink)
 
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In a fixed wing you get a sore backside from your wallet pushing against it, in a helicopter you just get a sore back.
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Old 29th Mar 2006, 02:26   #13 (permalink)
 
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The fun stuff is generally manouevering, operating close to things, low level. Fixed wing are all right if you are going into small tricky strips, going fast and low, doing aerobatics or formation, or both, but the droning along from place to place part soon loses its appeal.
Helicopters are mostly down there amongst it doing the interesting work. If I had to choose, rotary would be it.
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Old 29th Mar 2006, 02:54   #14 (permalink)
 
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I have flown both on and off over the years, but fixed wing was mainly agricultural. That puts the FW into a similar environment as the utility helicopter, and the same skills are required.
I value the experience from both. In my opinion FW will teach you to think much further ahead of the machine. It may take longer for things to go wrong, but you're deep in when it does. RW will teach you that things can go from just fine, to dire straits instantly - and hopefully back again.
I know some say that there's no useful cross credit of experience between the two but for me that's not true. However, watching an IFR airliner fly itself won't be much use as experience if you're moving a drill rig in a helicopter. Being able to move a drill rig may not help you fly to one in cloud either!
I think that any flying time is good experience, and the wider that experience, the better.
Remote Hook, Shy Torque - very profound comments IMHO.
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Old 29th Mar 2006, 03:13   #15 (permalink)
 
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Whats the difference b/w flying a RW or a FW?

The $$$$$$$$ you can earn.


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Old 29th Mar 2006, 04:15   #16 (permalink)
 
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Fully agree, EBCAU - I think there is considerable value to be gained and transferred from fixed to rotary and vice versa, and almost any kind of flying can be enjoyed, even if it's only the satisfaction of a job done properly when it's the boring stuff (hopefully not too much of that).
As far as crews go, I've mostly found rotorheads to have a good can-do attitude and be ready for a laugh as well.
Some of the larger fixed-wing types by nature tend towards a bit of a formal atmosphere, not that I've been in the big jets, but have done some time in decent sized multi crew FW.
I haven't found transitioning between FW and RW jobs a problem (done it a couple of times each way) - don't know if that's the general experience though. I have heard of rotary guys having a bit of hands and feet confusion when trying to fly close FW formation, eg. pull back 'cyclic' and push 'collective' away from them to slow down, only to find themselves pitching up and putting on throttle. Could just be an urban myth, that one.

Anyway, if you can't hover, you know the old saying ....
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Old 29th Mar 2006, 04:46   #17 (permalink)
 
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Blender

The answer is simple, just look at the drivers.

Your F/W type is a clear eyed extrovert, four bars, five biros and the latest three-time-zone-dick-tracy-special, you know, brush back the flowing locks and with a shining smile-- 'life's a beach!'

The other type, those with just a tad more than newbie hours I mean, --well- a rheumy eyed introvert, the bloody biros have all shook out, the clock has vibrated to AFT, and --'if something bad hasn't happened it is about to!'
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Old 29th Mar 2006, 07:36   #18 (permalink)
 
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Quote:
The other type, those with just a tad more than newbie hours I mean, --well- a rheumy eyed introvert, the bloody biros have all shook out, the clock has vibrated to AFT, and --'if something bad hasn't happened it is about to!'
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Old 29th Mar 2006, 13:34   #19 (permalink)
 
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Maybe the question should be asking management whats the difference between a Multi engine IFR Helicopter Pilot and a Multi engine IFR fixed wing pilot.
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Old 29th Mar 2006, 16:47   #20 (permalink)
 
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Main difference is about 250kts.
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