Following on from our first successful VR training course I thought I'd share a short article written by Matthew about how and why he chose VR training over the conventional PPL(H) methods
My wife booked me a trial helicopter lesson for my 56 birthday and as I was investigating the options, I came across Flight Beyond Sight - a new venture, run by retired military helicopter pilot and trainer, Jamie Anderson in conjunction with Leon Smith, at Helicopter Services in White Waltham, Berkshire.
The idea is simple but revolutionary - learn to fly a virtual reality helicopter simulator before ever taking the controls of a real helicopter. This approach has recently been adopted by the US military, where apparently their new pilot trainees complete 30 hours of simulator training and are then able to fly a real helicopter. Of course, this approach does not negate the requirement to complete the full UK PPL (H) licence (a minimum of 45 hours of flight training) but it does offer the opportunity to get the most out of the required 45 hours of flight time, instead of spending lots of time (and money) learning to master the basic controls.
That's the theory at least - so far I have had three half-hour lessons in the simulator (the same equipment used by the US Army, Navy and Air Force), with Jamie 'flying alongside' using his extensive experience to teach me the basic controls and manoeuvres that I will need to fly the real helicopter. We are training on the R44, as this is the only helicopter I fit in (being 6'4''), but the simulator can also be programmed to replicate all of the other common training helicopters (the R22 and Cabri being the most popular options in the UK).
The feeling is amazing, and the VR headset and full motion platform makes the experience feel so realistic - I even had a wave of vertigo the first time I looked down from 2,000 feet (which soon passed at the shear enjoyment of flying)!
The next step for me is to undertake further simulator instruction with Jamie, in conjunction with PPL(H) ground school and exams, but very soon I hope to have my first trial lesson in the R44.