Flying a helicopter is as close to pure flying as one can come. Do you remember the "flying" dreams you had when you were younger where you floated a few feet off the ground with a total sense of freedom? That's helicopter flying! I've landed and taken off from a tennis court at Da Nang (there are high fences around tennis courts), put my landing gear on a trail in the Philippine mountains (to pick up a fire control party) with my tail wheel hanging over a 500 foot cliff, taken off and landed on the FDR at night in a fog so thick I couldn't see the island from the no. 2 elevator, and plucked Jocks from the water day and night, usually after a bad "cat" shot. Although I had 4,000 fixed-wing hours when I started helicopter training, I got the same syllabus as the nuggets--no short cuts--because flying helicopters requires additional skills not acquired in fixed-wing flying. Since I came to helicopters late in my Navy career, I'm not sure how many other Aviation Midshipmen were helicopter pilots, but probably not many (most likely HS). It might be interesting to find out. It would be funny if I was a "FIRST."
[Ed note: What do you think members Neil Armstrong and Jim Lovell would say to Bill??]