I soloed early in my training at Skyrotors Ltd. Almost too early, as previously described in Second Solo. Whether that little performance was a good example of how not to explain a maneuver or just a horrible warning to the other instructors not to fly with me, I’ll never know. I do know that by the time I had about 82 hours of helicopter time I had only logged about 14 hours of dual instruction. There needed to be a lot more dual instruction given and logged.
The solution was to rewrite my logbook and have instructors fly with me the last few hours prior to my commercial flight test. Several instructors would evaluate me separately and compare notes, they said. I had reason to suspect there were straws being drawn, but nobody was cruel enough to actually tell me.
You never forget your initial instructors. I was fortunate to have a couple that tried to make me a better pilot. Most if not all, the instructors at Skyrotors Ltd. were instructors by default. This was not an usual circumstance in the early and mid 70’s in Canada. Helicopter pilots had three windows to work in through the year. Break up (Spring), Summer(3 months) and freeze up followed by the long chill.
Freeze up was a shorter time span than break up .Winter liked to hang on for break up but freeze up usually arrived one night and stayed.With the helicopter flying mostly done after winters arrival pilots faced a furlough at home or alternative employment. One alternative that allowed pilots to remain in their chosen vocation was the dreaded flight instructors rating. I only say dreaded,because it was obvious to the students which instructor wanted to train and which,(the majority) were only putting in time. It is still a problem today.
I have known a lot of flight instructors but only a hand full that were really good at what they did. I certainly don’t include myself in that small group of pilots who have the gift to teach and inspire. One of the best flight instructors I had the privilege to fly with said, “Look Keith, think about instructing not just as a way to impart information, because long after much of what you have told the student is forgotten they will always remember how you made them feel”
So ,thanks Ron and Steve. What ever you did with the little time you had to make an impression ,worked. I survived my initial training and began the real learning that continues to this day.