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rotor and the sleek cover that hides a fuel cap with “JET FUEL” written in large lettering! Any fuel truck could easily mistake this ship for a 44.


I remember


Kurt Robinson telling me that the redesigned fuel cap was mostly aerodynamic, part of their goal of mak- ing the R66 faster than its little brother. An unusual feature for a Robinson is found


when you open the inspection panel and small LED lights highlight the sight glass for the main rotor gear- box. Nice feature to have at night, but I wonder who allowed a luxury item on a Robinson helicopter! The screened air intakes just aft of the mast


base and the two air intake nostrils in the front are the quickest way to identify an R66 from the 44 and a slightly taller main rotor mast means that even big guys like me can walk underneath without fear of losing any hair. Several built in steps allow you to climb up


easily and inspect the main rotor, and Doug easily clambers up to show us. Once inside the cockpit, you are instantly at ease, everything is still where you remember it. The startup procedure is the easiest of any turbine ship out there. Just turn the key to enable the igniter, and tap the start button once. The starter auto engages to keep you hands free and at the familiar 15% N1, just push in the fuel control and watch the gauges as the turbine comes up to speed. The starter will disengage by itself, and you can switch on the generator. A well laid out display panel takes the place of multiple warning lights, and a built in recorder will tell you if any over speeds or over torques have occurred on the previous flight. As the rotor RPM comes up to speed I tap the


N2 to 100% and we are ready to go. The pedals are a bit stiffer on this ship than I am used to, but most of us never get to fly a new ship! The feel is exactly what you would expect, and


very familiar. In fact, the whole secret to the R44 versus R66 transition is there really isn’t much to learn! Once startup is complete, you can easily for- get that you are not flying an R44. Let’s get back to the autos. We fly around the


harbor a bit, but I am anxious for some full downs so we head back to Torrance Airport (TOA). I fig- ure they must think I am the greatest pilot in the world allowing me to fly their only certified R66. I feel pretty good until I remember that I have Doug riding shotgun. My ego deflated now, I shoot an auto to the runway and set her down after scraping around 12 feet of pavement. I spool up the turbine and pick her back up, departing behind a Piper in the pattern. Suddenly I realize that not only am I climbing faster than the Piper, I'm flying faster at the same time. The distance between us closes and I


ROTORCRAFTPROFESSIONAL 36


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