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time to 1st solo rotary

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time to 1st solo rotary

Old 13th Apr 2005, 12:12
  #1 (permalink)  
Thread Starter
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time to 1st solo rotary

Know that this one has been done a lot on the fixed wing forums, but not seen it on the rotary ones.

The school at which I did my PPL(H) would not consider any student ready for solo before they had done at least 20 hours.

So, what is the average time to a first rotary solo?
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Old 13th Apr 2005, 13:10
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From recollection my school were the same, (on the R22) however I believe it was an insurance / CAA consideration.

I will stand stand corrected if this isn't the case though.
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Old 13th Apr 2005, 13:27
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If you don't include the slabwing time, I know a certain chap who went solo in under five hours! Not bad Ginza
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Old 13th Apr 2005, 13:31
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There seem to be an awful lot of variables in determining time to 1st solo (ability of student, ability of instructor, application by student, consistancy of lessons, airfield environment etc etc).

However, maybe the greatest determinant of all is aircraft type. Like it or not, with all other things being equal, a student is going to solo quicker in an S300 than in the R22.

I would hazard a guess that the 20hr limit applies to the R22, and it's about right.

But (as I hope Whirlybird will back me up), please try not to get too hung up about how long it takes to go first solo. On the grand scheme of things, it's really not that important. Different people excel at different things. A student who is good at the 'aviate' side of things (ie time to first solo) might well struggle with the 'communicate' and/or 'navigate' side of things. The only people that 'time to first solo' really matters to seem to be those who are 'my car is faster than yours' or 'my w*lly is bigger than yours' types.

Hope this helps,

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Old 13th Apr 2005, 14:27
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It must depend on a number of variables such as previous experience, continuity especially, quality of instructor and individual aptitude.

Flying every day in good weather with a good instructor will get you solo much quicker than flying once a fortnight in the winter.

When I did my training most of us went solo in 7-12 hours. Much longer than that and there was a training risk for later in the course, and it would be difficult to complete the course in the prescribed hours too.

I agree with B73 that it is not a factor in the great scheme of things, but would also say that someone who struggles to go solo will probably also struggle later in their training, and it may be better to cut their losses early (if the school doesn't do it for them.) Difficult, I agree, especially if you are paying for it yourself and are desperate to fly.

There was a very sad, avoidable accident that happened about 16 years ago in the SE England. The Pilot had been 'chopped' from a commercially sponsored course and then managed to obtain a CPL by self funding at another school. He was then taken on by a North Sea operator but was again 'chopped' during his conversion phase. A small operator took him on as a pilot and sadly he crashed while doing a charter with passengers.

The point is, that it is true not to be too hung up on time to solo, particularly if continuity is a problem, but there will come a point where it becomes a falsehood to keep throwing money attempting to go solo as this is only one small step in the whole process. It doesn't get much easier after that, I would suggest.
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Old 13th Apr 2005, 14:31
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General opinion that I have come across is 8-15 hrs for S300 and up to twice that for R22.
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Old 13th Apr 2005, 14:40
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My First Solo was after 18.5hrs on THE DAY of my 16th birthday, all in an R22,

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Old 13th Apr 2005, 14:51
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On the old Bristow training school the average for the R22 was about 10-12 hours
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Old 13th Apr 2005, 15:04
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thanks for replies so far, please keep them coming!

Yes, it was the R22 I trained in. The schools' explanation for the 20 hour limit was twofold:

1 For insurance purposes, as stated above
2 To take the pressure off the student

Knowing that there is no way you are allowed to solo before 20 hours goes some way to preventing the "your w***y is bigger than mine" scenario.

This is so much better than the fixed wing scene, where, (even though it is debated), the time to solo can (and does), become a competitive issue.

Also, I know a rotary instructor who didn't reach the solo stage themselves for 30+ hours - this person, (IMHO), is a superb instructor.

Just goes to show....
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Old 13th Apr 2005, 16:15
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As Bravo73 said (and very well) - it doesn't mean a great deal in the scheme of things.

Some schools, for example, count first solo as a hover solo whereas my first solo was a couple of circuits of the airfield.

Time to solo? - around 35 hours. However, I completed the rest of the course in 20 - something hours.

My instructor wanted me to be able to do engine off landings, tail rotor control failure landings (which is outside the syllabus!!) before I went solo.

Whirlybird, I'm sure, will tell you her story. The military guys will tell you another.

So it seems the average could be anything from 5 to 50!!


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Old 13th Apr 2005, 16:27
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Whirlybird will NOT tell you her story; she's had too many things used against her on PPRuNe, and she does actually learn from experience. Let's just say I didn't break any records in my hours to first solo.

I think that Frank Robinson made a rule in the USA that no-one should go solo on the R22 in less than 20 hours, as a response to the early high accident rate in the R22, though I'm not certain of this. At any rate, it's commonly a rule in schools over there, and in many over here too, mine included. At around 17 hours, my instructor told me that in many schools I'd be considered ready for solo, but I couldn't do it there till I had 20 hours. At just over 21 hours, and drastically over-confident - though of course I didn't realise it at the time - I said to my instructor as he told me how well I was doing: "So when do I get to go solo then?". He was a little taken aback! But then my takeoffs went to pieces, the weather got bad, other things went wrong, and it took me quite a bit longer. But, as Bravo73 and others have said, it really doesn't mean a lot - the longer I fly, the more sure of this I become. By the time I went solo I'd done most of the course. My second solo was three circuits, then I asked if I could fly to the next airfield, where I had friends, for the third one. I was told it was far, far too early. I explained that I'd flown the route f/w loads of times, and I knew I could do it, so I was finally allowed to. So...one circuit, then three circuits, then a solo landaway...is that a first?

Awww, Jeez, I ended up telling you my story anyway...will I ever learn?
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Old 13th Apr 2005, 17:05
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Solo time

I soloed an F28A Enstrom in just over 8 hours. A buddy of mine did his in 5 hours in a hughes 269. Both of us were already fixed wing pilots, so we already had knowledge of radio, traffic patterns, etc. Another buddy soloed the F28A in 18 hours from scratch, I thought that was pretty good. It took me a lot longer (23 hours) for my real first solo, in a fixed wing PA-12. Partly due to it being a taildragger, partly I was in no real hurry, but the tailwheel skills I learned made my feet a lot smarter. Made antitourqe control a pretty easy transition.
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Old 13th Apr 2005, 17:24
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As an example, the Robinson-backed R22 insurance scheme makes the following stipulation:

Prior to initial solo flight, all student and non-helicopter rated pilots must receive at least 20 hours of dual instruction in helicopters, of which at least 10 hours are in the R22.
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Old 13th Apr 2005, 17:58
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Yes, and I think the 20 hours before solo were stated in one of the SFAR's which have now expired.

Just checked the log book and mine was 57.6 hours to first solo, after 14,000+ plank. Partly because my flying had been done a few hours at a time at different schools in various countries, but also because of a mature pilot's feeling that I wanted to be really sure that I could handle anything that happened on the circuit. I had turned down a couple of opportunities for this reason.

G_string hits the nail with the comments about ego. Sad but true, and beware those that boast of an early solo. Those that have the ability AND the reserve in their character are the pilots with whom you want to fly, or employ.

And if you are reading this, thank you Mike Bill at Redhill for taking on the awesome responsibilty of sending a plank pilot solo in a helicopter
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Old 13th Apr 2005, 19:03
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If you allow an hour a leson up to lesson 12 (first solo) and then add a few extra hours to get the hang of hovering etc you get up to the 18 - 20 hour figure everyone has mentioned. Any earlier than this is just pointless and potential for disaster.

A main point I have a slight grumble about is that should the engine fail when a student is early solo they have not yet (following the sylabus order) progressed to forced landings andvanced autos or any real learning of EOL. Leaves you rather stuck when the donkey stops having only had a short demo.

I personally continue on with students letting them solo in the hover after initial circuit solo to help with confidence (short periods not an hour at first liable to fatigue and mistakes follow) However I continue on to cover advanced autos etc. This also helps to boost their confidence when they start to realise they can cope and remove some of the fear of being up without the instructor. This then promotes faster learning and means they finish in the same time as an early solo student.
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Old 13th Apr 2005, 21:52
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8hrs30 on a Bell 47 - manual throttle (no correlator) and 8540 accident free since then - I'm still touchin' wood!
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Old 14th Apr 2005, 01:17
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Interesting subject!

Here in Canada there is no minimum hourly requirement when to go solo.
At my former school (Canadian Helicopters) most of the guys went solo between 20 to 25 hrs. Everybody had to successfully complete part of the flight training syllabus including full on autorotations.
Later when I became an instructor myself most full time students would still solo at about 25 hrs. The big exception was a part timer who soloed at 85 hrs.
I totally agree with some guys who say that when going solo is not a big deal.
I have also seen so many times that someone who learns slower initially will make a better pilot later.
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Old 14th Apr 2005, 01:29
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Bell 47G2, Solo at 17.5 hours, but had a bit of fixed wing time. Soloed on the C-172 at 5.5 hours.
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Old 14th Apr 2005, 03:36
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I was going to post my helicopter time-to-solo hours - they're not spectacular or anything - but then remembered how my fixed-wing time-to-solo went. So I'm not going to, in "protest" of this idea about how great of a rated pilot you will become if you solo after five or seven hours.

Not by my own choice, I changed instructors about twenty hours into it, and I think he was a bit paranoid (in the US, I can understand why - key term being LAWYERS) so it took quite a while before he jumped out.

My point here is that the time to solo is not wholly dependent on the candidate's skills - the CFI's comfort level/paranoia plays a part, and all of the cards are in his hands past a certain point.

Closing remark - am I a bit envious or jealous of those folks that became PIC after eight or ten hours? I must confess I am just a little bit - every pilot would like to think that he/she fell from the womb with a tiny cyclic and collective in hands and tiny pedals for the footsies.. But that's an ego thing and I have learned to live with it

Dave Blevins

P.S. one thing that struck me about this thread is Whirlygirl's comment about her postings here being used against her. I have always posted under my real name (and will continue to, being a licensed cumudgeon) but if I may say so it's a sad statement of affairs that most people here feel they have to remain anonymous. What a f8cked up profession I aspire to in my dreams...
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Old 14th Apr 2005, 07:11
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I went solo in the R22 at 18 hours, then during my commercial licence training i was lucky enough to do the last 40 odd hours in Bell 206, going solo in that was way more scarier than the R22. I went solo in Bell 206 at 60ish hours TT.

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