Student Pilots

As I travel to various parts of the country to provide initial and advanced flight training in Rotorway, Hughes, and Schweizer helicopters I have noticed a consistent problem with the Rotorway studentsí endorsements. If you are receiving your flight training in a Schweizer 300CB your flight instructor will endorse your student pilot certificate and your pilot log book stating that you are safe to solo that particular make and model of helicopter, a Schweizer 300CB. As a student pilot that endorsement allows you to fly only that specific make and model of helicopter. If you decide now to hop into a Robinson R22 Beta you are not legal to do so as a student pilot until you have an authorized flight instructor, who provides you with the needed training, endorse your student pilot certificate and log book for that specific make and model of helicopter.

Where things get a bit confusing for the student pilot is when they have built and registered their own helicopter such as a Rotorway, Ultrasport, or Safari. I have noticed that most of the Rotorway students that I give phase II or advanced flight training to have improper endorsements in their log books and on their student pilot certificates. If you are a student pilot you may want to check to see that your flight instructor has endorsed you to fly your particular individual helicopter to make things LEGAL with the FARs and to insure that your INSURANCE actually covers you.

According to FAR 61.87(I) "Limitations on student pilots operating an aircraft in solo flight. A student pilot may not operate an aircraft in solo flight unless that student pilot has received:
(1) An endorsement from an authorized instructor on his or her student pilot certificate for the specific make and model aircraft to be flown; and
(2) An endorsement in the students logbook for the specific make and model aircraft to be flown by an authorized instructor who gave the training within the 90 days preceding the date of the flight."

The SPECIFIC MAKE AND MODEL can be found on your airworthiness certificate and your aircraft registration certificate. You are the manufacturer and as such you decide on the specific Make and Model designations that you will assign to your helicopter. My own Rotorway Exec 90 is registered as Manufacturer(Make): Neisingh and Model: 001. It is no longer a Rotorway Exec 90 as far as the FAA is concerned because Rotorway is not the manufacturer, I am the manufacturer and I registered it with a specific make and model of my own designation.

If you have registered your Rotorway helicopter as a SAM SMITH EXEC 162F, your student pilot certificate and log book endorsements must be for that specific make and model of aircraft. From what I have seen in student log books the Rotorway Factory flight training school has only been endorsing their students to fly a "Rotorway EXEC 90/162F" or something similar to that. Be sure that you have them endorse your paperwork for your own particular MAKE and MODEL of helicopter, in most cases it is not a Rotorway 162F once it is registered.

When I give a student initial flight training or any other phase of training I always endorse their student pilot certificate and log book with their own specific aircraft Make and Model listed. Once the endorsements are correct and the proper training has been received, the student pilot can be confident that they are in full compliance with the FARís. There is a clause on most aircraft insurance policies that demands that you only fly when you are properly endorsed, have met the currency requirements, that you were endorsed within the preceding 90 days, and that you are in compliance with the FARs. Don't let an incident or ramp check find that you are in non-compliance with the FARs or your insurance policy requirements.

Come on, lets go Flying!!!!!!!!!

The big day is here, you have just finished building your beautiful helicopter, it is registered with your own choice of ďNĒ number, you have received your airworthiness certificate and your operating limitations and are you ever ready to see how this baby flies. It is now time to either enroll in the factory training program, enroll in a flight training school using certified helicopters, or arrange to have a flight instructor with Rotorway experience come to your location for initial or transition training. Should you opt to go the route of training in a certified helicopter and earn your private certificate; before flying your helicopter you still need to receive some transition training. The Rotorway is not a Robinson or a Schweizer and it is very easy to get yourself into trouble if you are not familiar with your helicopterís flight characteristics before you take it flying. The factory offers transition training as do a number of CFIís with Rotorway experience. Get the training and protect your investment.

If your flight instructor has a fair amount of Rotorway experience he/she should devote a fair amount of time helping you develop a complete and personalized preflight check list for your particular helicopter in conjunction to the guidelines provided by Rotorway. Unless I know the owner of a particular home built helicopter extremely well, I will not fly in one unless I accompany that owner as they perform their preflight check to insure that the helicopter meets my own criteria for safety.

Never be in a rush to go flying in your helicopter. A newly manufactured helicopter requires many adjustments and checks to ensure that it remains airworthy. It is your responsibility as the manufacturer and holder of the repairmanís certificate for that helicopter to insure that these checks are done to verify that the helicopter is airworthy prior to each flight. Make sure that you do a thorough preflight each time you go flying. You can never be too careful in insuring that your helicopter is good to go. If something doesnít appear to be 100%, fix it. Once you are airborne it is comforting to know that your helicopter has been meticulously maintained, thoroughly inspected, and that you have certified it to be 100% airworthy.

If you hire an instructor to train you in your own helicopter he/she should review the helicopterís operating limitations with you in detail to ensure that you understand them and are able to comply with them. Check out your instructor and make sure that they have a comfortable amount of Rotorway flight time and that their credentials are in order. The fact that an individual has thousands of hours in turbine helicopters is no guarantee that they can properly handle your helicopter. My last student had hired a flight instructor that had thousands of hours in helicopters but little or no Rotorway time. On the third flight with the student the instructor lost control of the helicopter and flew it into a line of trees destroying the helicopter and a life-long dream.

My student then rebuilt the helicopter with a professionalís help and asked me to help him with his initial training in it. To make him even more nervous, while he was at the re builderís a fellow was hovering his own Rotorway when a gust of wind caught his tail. He may not have been taught as to the dangers of hovering down wind and he experienced a dynamic rollover right there. Needless to say, my student was very apprehensive about flight training after what he had experienced and then later witnessed.

With the hours that I have flow in the various Rotorway models I am convinced of the following. If the maintenance is impeccably performed, all upgrade recommendations are complied with, and every flight is preceded by a thorough preflight inspection, you will have a helicopter that will experience reliability approaching that of the certified helicopters.

The price that we pay for owning our own kit-built helicopter is in the maintenance and inspections. Donít ever assume that the helicopter is airworthy until you check it to prove to yourself that it is airworthy. Safety first is the rule to follow. Remember that your safety and the safety of your passenger is fully your responsibility as the manufacturer and authorized repairman for your helicopter.

Orv Neisingh