“Learning To Fly Helicopters” Second Edition is not your typical dry, droll aviation text. Author and AIN Publications chief operating officer R. Randall Padfield is an Air Force Academy graduate and a 9,000-hour commercially rated helicopter pilot who flew to offshore platforms in the North Sea. He succeeds in melding his personal experiences with engineering knowledge in an easy-to-understand narrative that is clear, concise and entertaining and delivered in chapters that are mercifully short and well-organized. Even if you have no intention of ever flying helicopters and just want to understand them better, the book won’t bury you in a morass of mind-numbing technical jargon. If you are contemplating a career flying rotorcraft, the book gives you an unvarnished, earnest and sometimes comical account of life under the blades combined with good, basic knowledge for takeoff; from aerodynamic theory and helicopter systems to landing a job, from how to pass tests to a how to stay alive.
This is not an exhaustive text, but rather an overview of the fundamentals involved, melded with breezy rotorcraft history and some practical how-to points. Padfield uses simple devices such as pencils, straws, and rubber bands to explain torque; knives and butter to educate about drag; and the breaststroke to convey the nuances of blade angle. Some of the flying fashion tips are a little disconcerting: “Women should avoid nylon stocking because nylon has a tendency to melt into the skin as it burns,” but most of the book is positive and enthusiastic and will actually make you eager to master the world of cyclic and collective, dispelling myths along the way.
“Learning To Fly Helicopters, Second Edition,” is published by McGraw-Hill Education. $25.