Last year while I was doing my two weeks stints in Atlanta every month, I took up learning to fly a helicopter in my spare time. It’s something that I’ve always wanted to do. The first time I went up, wow, what an amazing feeling. It was awesome! 😉 And the scenery was spectacular. Crystal clear blue skies. So much so that my instructor made sure she took over the controls so I could take in the view of Atlanta that was laid out in front of us that included Downtown, Midtown, Buckhead and Stone Mountain (we were flying west towards Atlanta at the time).
My second lesson had me flying back to the airport while watching the changing colours as the sun set. Another moment seared into my brain that will remain with me forever. Incredible.
Flying helicopters requires complete and total concentration at all times. You can’t have an off split second moment, day or night. Speaking of which, all objects sticking up into the sky over 200 feet (yes, we’re still imperial), have aircraft warning lights, red strobing LEDs. All of these LEDs are positioned correctly on tall buildings, cranes, electricity pylons, antenna towers and masts.
Wind turbines are a total different story to a newbie such as myself. Those damn pesky things are cropping up everywhere. They have a LED on top of their mast but they don’t have red LEDs on the tip of their blades so if you’re out flying at night in an unfamiliar area you could spot the red LED at night, make sure you fly over it thinking that its an electricity pylon, wonder why it feels a little more windy than expected and smack! a blade makes contact with the helicopter. Not that I had to worry about those over Atlanta but Europe has them popping up all over the place. And I plan on continuing my flying lessons in Europe so that’s I care. With safety in mind and being an infrequent ‘pilot-in-training’, I plan on sticking to areas that I will come to know well in the daylight hours and check out cross-country routes / night time flying routes carefully while taking advantage of my instructor’s vast knowledge. Once I’ve passed my private pilot licence (PPL), I’ll recce new destinations carefully beforehand and be a ‘fair weather daylight-only pilot’ to make sure that I will continue to have amazing positive views while in air for years to come.