10 hours, or just under, is all it took. Well, 10 hours, and ~$3700, is all it took for me to reach a level of enjoyment with flying that I’d like to repeat.
Yesterday, when I was flying a hover circle pattern, keeping the nose of the aircraft pointed to the center of the circle as we traced the shape traversing sideways, the wind caught our tail, and we began a hard left turn. It brought us to the center of the circle, facing out and toward the wind instead of inward and away from the wind. In bringing us to a stationary hover, that moment in particular, I laughed into my headset, which transmitted to my instructor’s ears. I was smiling, something I learned to do while paragliding because it helped ease muscles and improve posture, or so we were told. I was smiling and laughing, two things that to that point I’d not done before while flying a helicopter.
In learning any complex skill, I’ve found several steps almost always take place, and usually in this order: naïve excitement, easing into the material, making motions more deliberate, frustration, and a “click”. A click is any time the material effectively translates into muscle memory, and an insight occurs, even if inarticulable. A click is an “ah-ha!” moment, when suddenly things make sense, and what was explicit knowledge becomes implicit understanding. Yesterday, I had my first helicopter click, my first heliclick. I’m looking forward to more heliclicks, because like climbing a hill for the view, the work is what makes the perch worth it.
I settled us, more smoothly than I ever had, back into the exact position from which I broke from the pattern, and continued.