Wednesday, July 5, 2017

THI UH-4 Commuter It Just Gets Better

THI UH-4 Commuter
It Just Gets Better

When is the most complex design the easiest to fly?  To answer the question without more digression in one paragraph, when is a design complex and easy to is when you crawl into THI's UH-4 Commuter. 

As a fixed wing pilot, the pedals are often called rudder pedals.  By pressing on a pedal, the vertical control surface moves and deflects air causing the tail of the aircraft to move in the direction of flight.  Helicopters don't have rudders or rudder pedals, per se.  They have anti-torque pedals.  These pedals control the tail rotor which counteracts the affect of torque from the spinning main rotor. 

The principal is "for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction."  As the main rotor spins right to left the effect of torque on the airframe forces the air frame to spin in the opposite direction...from the left to the right.  Helo pilots use left anti-torque pedal force to counteract the main rotor's torque. This increases thrust from the tail rotor causing the airframe to neutralize counter rotation.  Sounds simple doesn't it?  A main rotor connected to a torque countering tail rotor is after all the most common of helicopter designs though there are models with tandem main rotors spinning in opposite directions, intermeshing rotors or the coaxial rotor. 

Enter Hiller Helicopters which in the post WW2 growth in general aviation, introduced the UH-4 Commuter, a coaxial twin rotor helicopter.  The coaxial rotor design has one rotor turning in one direction and the other rotor turning in the opposite neutralizing the counter rotation of the main rotor. 

Hiller's response was to a concept of advanced mobility with the flying car and aircraft such as the UH-4 which attempted to bridge the gap between rapid travel from one city to the next before the advent of the Interstate transportation system or improvements in affordable airlines.  It was, in my opinion,  one of those ideas ahead of its time or at least an idea which wasn't ultimately practical.  As a concept, it is still being knocked around to this day.  The UH-4 was in the midst of the "FUTURE" and we know the future went in a different direction.

THI Collaboration with Shergood Aviation

THI has been around, what seems, forever.  I remember picking up some THI fighter aircraft when I was a noob in 2008 and they were arguably the best options among my fleet of aircraft.  If you're around SL aviation, Karl Reisman's name is respected, he is THI.  When  a great aircraft builder such as Karl collaborates with arguably the best helicopter scripter in SL, Kelly Shergood, great things happen.  This great thing is THI's UH-4 Commuter.

I had seen the UH-4 when I scrolled through marketplace and it was always a helicopter which captured my attention.  Having flown, and still flying I might add, Kelly Shergood's EC-135, it is one of the most challenging and fun helicopters in my inventory. When I learned of the collaboration between Karl Reisman and Kelly Shergood and being more aware of what  Kelly can do, I had to try the UH-4.  I'm so glad I finally did too.

Flying the UH-4 Commuter

At the first rez, the UH-4 hatches rather small.  By clicking on the glass, you'll get a menu.  Click ADMIN and then RESIZE where you will find three basic sizes to make the helicopter enlarge to fit a more standard sized avatar (we're all bigger than standard aren't we?).  Now take a few moments to read the Pilot Operating Handbook (POH).  You'll put on the HUD because you actually need it but to assure you, you can fly this helicopter in mouselook without trouble at all.

The starting procedure is common for any pilot flying reciprocating engines as opposed to those powered by kerosene vacuum cleaners. A checklist can guide you through the preflight and engine start checklist.  There are other options as well.  Two control systems are offered through the OPTIONS menu.  One allows for keyboard and mouse control via the HUD and the other allows for two handed keyboard controls (my preference).  Many other options exist and the POH can guide you through each one. 

The first start up was really pretty simple.  My goal was to see what happened when I brought the UH-4 into a hover.  I prepared for the airframe rotate to the left like many other helicopters at the same time understanding how coaxial rotors work though I wasn't exactly sure what would happen.  My expectations were realized, the anti-torque pedals functioned more like rudder pedals and could be centered during the hover.  This made flying the UH-4 incredibly easy.

So much for a hover test, let's take this thing on a little tour!  Unlike the EC-135 which is more powerful and more complex to fly (it is a handful), the UH-4 was almost "plug and play" without the typical "plug and play" stuff we typically find in SL aviation.  In fact, flying the UH-4 was downright fun.  I was able move it where I wanted with ease only monitoring collective through the vertical speed indicator (VSI), cyclic with the airspeed indicator and coordinating turns between the cyclic and anti-torque pedals.  It felt like I was really flying!

We don't have to get into the reasons why the UH-4 never took off as a popular design.  One good reason is lots of moving parts means lots of mechanical headaches.  Sure coaxial rotors have mechanical complexity compared to a more traditional helicopter design but damn if this isn't a fun helicopter to fly.  If you are interested in flying, I mean really flying and not that roleplay type of easy flight, you can't go wrong with the UH-4 Commuter. 

The UH-4 is the result of collaboration between two of the best in SL aviation, Reisman and Shergood.  Honestly, I would love to see more collaboration between builders and scripters across the gamut of SL vehicles if the product of partnership is of this kind of quality.

Where can you find a UH-4 Commuter for Yourself?

Take a look at Marketplace and pick one up.  You'll be spending the next week oblivious to any SL drama people say they abhor (though we know they secretly love it).  You can't be sad when you're flying anyway!  If you want to see more, visit THI's inworld store

Find us on Facebook

You can get updates and new reviews through our Facebook group "Things that Moves in SL" which you should absolutely join or on my Google+ page.   Lizzy and I review bikes, boats, cars and aircraft.  If you would like us to review something that moves, send us a message.