Helicopters Magazine

Features Procedures Safety & Training
Book Review: Professional Helicopter Pilot Studies, Canadian Version – By Phil Croucher

WOW!!!  When it comes to helicopter piloting, this book covers all the bases. If you are an ab initio student or fledgling flyer this book will provide virtually all the information you will need to ace the Canadian exams and accelerate your professional career.


August 5, 2008
By Ken Armstrong

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WOW!!!  When it comes to helicopter piloting, this book covers all the bases. If you are an ab initio student or fledgling flyer this book will provide virtually all the information you will need to ace the Canadian exams and accelerate your professional career. If you can already walk on water as a highly experienced rotary wing pilot, be prepared to levitate above the surface. I don’t think I’ve ever read an aviation book that taught me so much in a very readable format that also provides an excellent refresher. Author Phil Croucher’s international flying experience has expanded the book’s dimensions with a worldly touch and since many of us have served or will serve in other countries, the information is extremely valuable. On the topic of bang for the buck, the B&W version at $80 (half the price of the sparsely coloured version) is a bargain because it contains all of the learning that would be involved in buying rotary- wing manuals totaling hundreds or thousands of dollars. The publisher covers the scope of the book when he states Professional Pilot Helicopter Studies should be read by:


  • Those who want to see what they are letting themselves in for

  • Those who want to do some pre-study before starting a flying course

  • Those who cannot understand the materials on the course they are already on

  • •Those who want a reminder of the trouble they went through!

reviewAnother good reason to purchase Phil Crocher’s experience relates to helicopter pilot instructing. One way or another, many, if not most of us will instruct others during our careers. Whether it is recurrency training as a check pilot or chief pilot at a company, ab initio rotary- wing training or advanced training whereby you pass on highly developed skills to students, having a manual that covers the bases will prove priceless. Have you ever had a situation whereby you were trying to get a point across and the student just wasn’t getting it? Turn to Crocher’s concordance…

For those of you who think you already know enough about our industry, think again. This book will not only provide a useful review in our changing realm, but also provide newly available safety information that we can all benefit from. As an accident investigator and aviation consultant in the courts, I can assure readers that the seasoned pilots who are wrapping helicopters up into crumpled balls are not as knowledgeable as they thought! Unfortunately all too many pilots stop learning or reviewing data after their written and flight tests.

Make no mistake, the knowledge within the covers goes well beyond Transport Canada exams and well it should because the world of professional flying is far more challenging than the written exam where the most serious risk is falling off a chair. Furthermore, flying schools cannot teach all of the skills and facts you need to know to survive because they cater to the basic Transport Canada rating minimums. Moreover schools’ hands are tied when it comes to curriculum expansion and they can’t augment the flight training due to escalated costs for their students. In the competitive marketplace, any training establishment that greatly expands the training program would drive itself out of business.

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So it falls upon pilots to top up the skills and information they need to operate safely. How can they best do this? Well, they teach themselves when they finally get a flying job – however, this is often a deadly scenario. After leaving the military with a few thousand pilot-in-command hours, it seemed that rigourous training would prepare me for anything the civilian industry could lay on me. How wrong I was! There were many close calls with an imminent burial detail as I slowly educated myself into the demanding world of civilian rotary wing operations.

Don’t fool yourself into thinking peacetime military flying is more demanding. Two pilot crews and stringent safety standards in flying forces not responsible to provide a profit makes military ops a relative piece of cake.  Compared to on-job risks, a better/safer way to learn the ropes is through a well-written reference manual such as Mr. Croucher’s.

My advice?  Invest in this rotary-wing piloting bible and read one of Phil’s 456 subchapters each day. It is not only a good read but also an inexpensive form of flight safety insurance. Health Warning: Pilots with back or hernia injuries be advised this tome weighs more than four pounds (about two kilos).

Ken Armstrong is an ATP rated pilot who has likely flown more helicopter types than anyone in the world and taught advanced flying skills in dozens of countries.


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