Monday, November 28, 2011

flight school

When Danny first started to seriously consider going to helicopter flight school, he researched schools like crazy. He searched locally in Ohio, in Montana and out west, everywhere. He made lots of phone calls, spent hours looking on the internet comparing prices and such, and kept praying and asking God where to go. It was such a big decision, we just had to make the right one.

Danny had an ideal school in mind when he set out on his quest: a school that was either family-run or at least had a family atmosphere. Danny wanted to find a school that had a relaxed yet focused environment and had great people who were not only going to be instructors but become friends. As he searched on the internet, he kept going back to Jerry Trimble Helicopters. One day he told me, "I think this is the place."

And, as it turns out, it certainly was.

Danny is seriously loving this school. From the get-go, the people there were so amazing. Allison, the wife of Jerry Trimble himself, helped us look for a house after we found out that the one we were counting on didn't go through. It was so nice having "eyes" here to scout out the good neighborhoods for us. While Danny visited the school for the first time, his soon-to-be instructor Isaac gave him a fun, hour-long demo ride (as opposed to a hurried 15-minute demo flight that another school gave him) and afterwards landed near a restaurant across the street to meet with Allison for lunch. They took the time to get to know him and made him feel so welcome. As excited as Danny was to attend their school, they seemed just as excited to have him.

Mark, one of Danny's flight instructors

Since being here, Danny has not been disappointed nor has had any doubts about this being the right school for him. He has two amazing instructors, Mark & Isaac, who are great teachers and are easy to get along with. Danny looks forward to the days he gets to have his actual flight lessons up in the air. He has flown almost every day since being here (except for Thanksgiving weekend and some random bad weather days). Every morning he checks the weather forecast and looks outside to see if it is good flying weather. It's like a kid on Christmas morning when he wakes up to clear skies and no wind :-)

Of course, helicopter school isn't all about flying.

Oh man, when learning to fly a helicopter there is a lot to learn book wise. All the information is so new to Danny; there is so much to take in and digest. Most mornings he gets up and takes all his books to a coffee shop downtown to study for a few hours. Other times he studies at night when the kids are in bed, and there are times where he squeezes reading in during the day as he is able. To get his Private License (the first step in this helicopter endeavor) he has to pass both a written test and a flight test. He has to learn FAR rules and how a helicopter actually flies and how to talk on the radio and how to read a flight map and all the emergency procedures and so much more. And of course he has to know how to fly the thing: to take off, land, hover, learn all the controls and dials, and do an autorotation (that is where you learn to land it with the engine shut off* [!] ). Yikes.

And I thought my driver's test was stressful.

Osmosis in progress
Ah, much better :-)

 Even though the studying is a lot of work, Danny is really enjoying it. Really. He is enjoying helicopters as much (if not more) than what he thought. And the most amazing thing of it all?

He is living his dream.

Danny only has 5 or so more flights until he can start flying solo (by himself, no instructor--he needs 15 hours of solo flight before he can take his test). Everything he is learning now is leading up to this--being able to fly by himself! We'll keep you updated!

*Danny wanted me to mention that the autorotation practice is just a simulation--they don't really shut off the engine with him, but he has to learn how to do it just in case the helicopter engine ever did shut off mid-air. He didn't want anymore to panic :-)


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