A commenter responded to my video below:
"Just how many of you are there to watch those gauges. If there is a problem do those gauges tell you first or does the change in sound or feel? "
It's a valid question. I can remember being sorta overwhelmed the first time I looked at the dashboard of a complex aircraft...
How can anyone possibly make sense of all that?
First, it's just me watching those gauges most of the time, Anon. My Nurse and Paramedic are in the back kicking death in the ass, so they're no help at all.
Now, think of your car. Most of us have owned a car with a speedometer, tachometer, water temperature gauge, oil pressure gauge, and maybe even an oil temperature gauge in the dash cluster. What did you pay attention to, mostly?
The BK117 I fly was built to be flown with either one, or two pilots. Watch the video again...
I always turn the lights on for the entire instrument panel as an insurance policy. Most of the instruments you see over on the far left of that panel are redundant instruments I have in front of me. If you look closely, you'll notice this bird even has THREE attitude indicators (artificial horizons if you like.) So I pay almost no attention at all to the left one-third of that panel unless something on my side fails.
The far right side of the panel contains the basic flying instruments:
Airspeed indicator, altimeter, vertical speed indicator, heading indicator, and the aforementioned attitude indicator. In this particular bird, the green rectangle you see at the lower right corner of the panel is the GPS... attached in an absolutely horrible place because in order to program it I have to manipulate the cyclic with my left hand to turn GPS knobs with my right. It's a pain.
In the center of that instrument panel are gauges for both engines and the transmission:
Oil pressure and temperature. Torque, (power being demanded), engine and rotor tachometers, and exhaust (or turbine outlet) temperatures. It's safe to glance at all these about as often as you'd check your rearview mirror in your car, because all these instruments are backed with warning (idiot) lights that would illuminate should any of them get out of normal operating limits. This would also set off a "Master Caution" light squarely in front of my face to say, "Something's wrong! Take a look at what's going on with your flying machine, stupid."
So it's not so overwhelming as it seems. The night I took that video was extraordinarily calm and I was able to turn the controls completely loose to handle the camera. On a night like that it really is a matter of monitoring the gauges by glancing at them now and then, and making minor changes in the controls to insure the aircraft is at the heading/airspeed/altitude I want.
(And your comment about how the aircraft feels or sounds is a valid one... the machine DOES talk to you, and better pilots may feel or hear a problem before any of the instruments indicate something abnormal is going on.)
Another commenter said something valid for that night...
I AM still trying to convince others I actually WORK for a living!