I recently decided to take advantage of a windfall in income to snap up some FSX add-ons, both scenery and aircraft. We’ll get to the scenery some other time as well as other aircraft because right now I’m just focusing on one, the CeraSim Bell 222B. I’ve had my eye out for a good-quality Bell 222, Bell 430 or Augusta AW109 for a while now – what can I say I loooove helicopters with retractable landing gear. Not only are they sleek and sexy-looking in flight but it’s cool to be able to taxi around on the ground like an airplane. the Cera 222 is really great, well detailed with cool animations and tight modeling. There was an issue with the idle release implementation while using my joystick axis to control the throttles but now that’s been solved it’s all good.
Despite the new aircraft, I didn’t want my skill with the Bell 206B to start fading and I also wanted to get a good feel for how differently the 222B flew compared to the 206B, so I took out the 206B first, starting at KJRB in Manhattan and flying Hudson River to Newark to Linden to get to KLDJ. Weather was mostly clear with light rain moving out of the area – the big thing was winds gusting up to 24kts so I did get bumped around a good deal. But no troubles at all on takeoff or landing.
Next it was back to KJRB to climb into the 222B. This is a dual-engine aircraft unlike the single-engine 206B – it can go faster and still fly if one engine goes out. It took me a while initially to get the hang of starting the 222B, but the checklist procedure is very fluid once I figured out where everything was in the cockpit and soon I had the engines spooled up and ready to go. My Manhattan traffic pack was active so I needed to watch out for incoming/outgoing helicopters before I could depart. I headed up the East River and obviously the first thing I noticed was the acceleration once I transitioned into forward flight, as well as the huge rate of climb at an angle and throttle setting that would have the 206B only inching upwards. I’m definitely going to have to develop a new feel for what is “level flight” in this helicopter. I say it in quotes because the nose is always dipped in level flight for choppers. The rudders were also extremely sensitive compared to the 206B but I think this may be something I need to tweak in the Helicopter Total Realism (HTR) add-on I’m using to enhance the flight dynamics.
I took the East River all the way north to the Triborough Bridge then swung around to head back south, taking a steep bank to see how the 222B handled in tight turns. About the same as the 206B, where I need to increase the pitch down as the blades bite deeper to prevent the aircraft from rising and my speed from falling. I approached and landed at 6N5 – one of the cool things about HTR is that it makes note of your landing and rates it depending on a variable in the helicopter’s flight profile of maximum feet per second descent rate, which means any faster and you’re at high risk of damaging your gear/skids. For the 222B it’s set at 4 ft/s and when I landed at 6N5 I was told it was a Good Landing at 1.2 ft/s. Nice! Although, I admit I did have to taxi back a little ways before departing to give myself more room from the elevated highway.
Once back in the air I took her back up the East River and then across Central Park to the Hudson and down to KJRA. I was a bit off on the approach and came really close to setting her down in the water about 150 feet off the landing area. The problem with turbine engines is they need to spool, so you don’t get instant response when adding power, especially when close to a hover. So it’s always a bit tense to be dropping towards the drink and forcing yourself to slowly add power so you don’t end up over-compensating and rising up again. But I managed to enter a hover a few dozen feet over the water and inch forward, though it was very wobbly and I almost ended up in an oscillating failure, where my drift corrections would keep getting larger and larger until the aircraft spins out and crashes. I honestly thought my first crash in the 222B was coming but I managed to keep cool and get her on the ground only slightly off the pad. I don’t know why but no landing report from HTR this time. I’m pretty sure it was only slightly harder of a landing than before though. The winds really bounced me around on landing this time, boy.
After spinning the aircraft around (ground taxi in a helicopter is so cool!) I figured next I would depart KJRA for KEWR so I could land at the helipad there on the taxiway and then enjoy taxiing over to a parking spot on the apron, but before I could lift off again the sim froze – which is rare but it happens. Drat. Decided to call it a day at that. Really enjoy the 222B and look forward to flying it some more!