Monday, July 30, 2007


A few weeks ago I attended Robinson Helicopters Factory Safety Course. Although it's required if I'm going to work for Silver State, I was looking forward to it as I would a vacation. I even plopped down as much money as a vacation, come to think of it, I would still call it a vacation. The family came along and visited Disneyland while I was in class all week, and I got to tour the Robinson Factory, watch fascinating crash videos, and even fly around SoCal in a brand new R44 Raven I.

I was impressed that Frank Robinson would welcome us and kick off the course, I think this speaks highly of him and his company. The window into the Robinson psyche opened a little wider as we toured the factory. Work there is a great example of high efficiency and economy. For example: The lights are seldomly ever on in the factory, replaced instead with numerous skylights to capitalize on the sunny SoCal weather.

We even got a little bit of inside info on the R66 due to debut soon. Our tour was led by Pat, who is head of Tech Support at Robinson and would be familiar to almost anyone who has taken the factory course. He said that the R66 might be flight tested by end of July (due to a bet that some department heads didn't want to have to pay.)

Flying around SoCal was quite an experience. It was fascinating to see LAX, LGB and all the small airports that I fly over and into but never get a good look at. Passing under the approach path for LAX was a bit of thrill in it's self. We flew all the way to El Monte and practiced auto rotations from zero airspeed, min rate decent autos and other emergency procedures.

I had a good enough time to consider returning to take the factory course again (and pay another $500) to renew my CFI certificate. It made me darn proud to fly Robinsons too.

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