Today I took my first flight lesson and flew the Robinson R22 Beta Helicopter. My flight instructor was Pilot Jefferson Vicente of Heliflights.net. After a bit of ground review of the basics, which I had learned previously from the industry standard text “Principles of Helicopter Flight“, we hopped in the chopper and took off from the Lincoln Park, NJ airport. The R22 is a very very small helicopter, and its controls are fully manual, and extremely sensitive. Flying over NJ, I felt every gust of wind and movement of the helicopter, and had to constantly adjust to stay level. We flew a couple laps around the area, and then came back down to the airport, where we practiced hovering and flying at different angles. Overall it was a great experience!
The Robinson R22 is a two-bladed, single-engine light utility helicopter manufactured by Robinson Helicopter. The two-seat R22 was designed in 1973 by Frank Robinson and has been in production since 1979.
Due to relatively low acquisition and operating costs, the R22 has been popular as a primary rotorcraft trainer around the world and as a livestock management tool on large ranches in North America and cattle stations in Australia. The R22 has a very low inertia rotor system and the control inputs are operated directly by push rods with no hydraulic assistance. Thus, the flight controls are very sensitive and require a light touch to avoid over correcting. A student that masters an R22 generally does not have a problem transitioning to a heavier helicopter.