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What makes an ideal trainer? Flying the Leonardo TH-119

I remember my first helicopter flight. My instructor gave me control in the hover, and the cockpit was soon a flurry of elbows and knees as I struggled to remain within roughly a cubic mile of sky. Characteristically unstable, learning to hover the CH-139 JetRanger, in which I received my Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) pilot wings, was like learning to swim by being thrown into the deep end of the pool. But, alas, that was a long time ago; technology changes everything.

My recollections of helicopter training came to mind as I arrived at Leonardo Helicopters? modern facilities in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Under the Advanced Helicopter Training System (AHTS) program, the U.S. Navy has invited bids for a new military training helicopter to replace its aged and threadbare Bell TH-57B/C Sea Ranger helicopters; my mission was to help ferry Leonardo?s contender, the TH-119, to the Naval Helicopter Association fly-in in Pensacola, Florida.

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