Flight of the R-22 at French Valley

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The above video is solid evidence of my new addiction, as well as the guilty party who got me addicted; one TODD BOHLMAN, airplane and helicopter pilot at large. He made it seem so innocuous; we simply go out and rent an R-22 for an hour, for a quick cruise around the countryside, over wineries, through small canyons, over a lake, landing on hidden perches atop the mountains in and around French Valley, and a pass that felt as though it was just feet above the ground on the way back to the airport.  Little did I know how absolutely awesomely amazing it would be.  Sneaky, sneaky, sneaky.

Since this is a single camera combined clip, I did my best to gather the hour-long trip into the length of a pop song. I’m so hooked, and discovered that this kind of helicopter piloting isn’t nearly as dangerous as I had originally thought. I’ve always liked a pair of wings over my head in case my engine ever failed, but it turns out there’s something called “auto rotation” that allows a helicopter pilot to guide the helicopter safely to the ground.

Either way, this ranks up there as one of the most amazing experiences of my life. Flying without doors in a tiny little aircraft was beyond exhilarating. I recently got my first taste of aerobatics in a Decathlon (thanks for THAT new addiction, George) , and would have a difficult time choosing which experience I’m more hooked by. George made aerobatics seem like a delicate ballet, rather than the careening scariness that I had expected.  So, thanks, Todd, for your piloting skills, and for an hour I’ll treasure from here on out.

P.S. Although the Wide Angle lens makes the heli look larger than it is, as you can see in the below photo, my lanky frame barely fits into the cockpit…

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