Hooniverse Asks: What’s the hardest vehicle to operate?

I recently got a chance to go flying with a friend. They own a helicopter. It’s a 1978 Enstrom 280 (not sure which designation, but it has those sharkey looks). While airborne, my friend let me take the controls. While in flight, over California where the Pacific Ocean slaps the shores of Palos Verdes, I handled the cyclic. That’s the tall joystick like touch point that seems like the main piece from which you pilot. It’s not. There are two other major control interfaces. There’s the collective and the pedals.

My friend, Micah Muzio from Kelley Blue Book, handled the other two bits while I was given control of the cyclic. It was exhilarating and terrifying all at once. All of your inputs have to be smooth and small. This chopper responds to the most minute of movements. And again, this is just on one of the three control points.

Things got even more crazy when Micah invited me to try and keep the craft in a hover. Once the helicopter starts to get away from you, it’s hard to think about bringing it back. Thankfully, Micah is a skilled pilot and knows what he’s doing. I am no fan of heights, yet I truly enjoyed my time in the Enstrom.

I’m still not sure if I’m ready to go doors off though.

What are some other difficult vehicles to operate?


    1. I’m not just some eggheaded geology-type, I’m more specifically an experimentalist. One problem with evaluating modern nanomaterials is that we can’t meaningfully perform any actual hardness measurements on monomolecular layers and other submicroscopically thin surficial deposits, so their putative hardnesses are based pretty much entirely on theoretical calculations, not on abrasion or indentation testing.

      In short, they’re beyond where I draw the line and I find them unimpressive.

    1. It’s much harder to control project vehicles’ budgets. I refer to time budgets as well as financial ones.

  1. It’s hard to beat a helicopter for complexity, unless you have a submarine, but for things that only move in two dimensions, I think twin stick tractor trailer combos are up there. The line between difficult and fun can get blurry, though. Maybe not using your left foot makes it easier?

  2. great video!

    3 dimensions has to be harder than 2, but I guess that boats are hard because of not having brakes as such and one less dimension to avoid obstacles.

    1. Boats are cake.
      The helicopter has a lot going on at all times. And that’s before you even think about maintaining proper radio comms and etiquette.

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