Skip to comments.Musings of a helo driver... (Vanity)
Posted on 08/25/2012 3:42:46 PM PDT by llevrok
Musings of a helo driver...
Anything that screws its way into the sky flies according to unnatural principals.
You never want to sneak up behind an old, high-time helicopter pilot and clap your hands.
He will instantly dive for cover and most likely whimper...then get up and smack you.
There are no old helicopters laying around airports like you see old airplanes.
There is a reason for this. Come to think of it, there are not many old, high-time helicopter pilots
hanging around airports either so the first issue is problematic.
You can always tell a helicopter pilot in anything moving: a train, an airplane, a car or a boat.
They never smile, they are always listening to the machine and they always hear something they think is not right. Helicopter pilots fly in a mode of intensity, actually more like "spring loaded", while waiting for pieces of their ship to fall off.
Flying a helicopter at any altitude over 500 feet is considered reckless and should be avoided.
Flying a helicopter at any altitude or condition that precludes a landing in less than 20 seconds is considered outright foolhardy.
Remember in a helicopter you have about 1 second to lower the collective in an engine failure before the craft becomes unrecoverable. Once you've failed this maneuver the machine flies about as well as a 20 case Coke machine. Even a perfectly executed autorotation only gives you a glide ratio slightly better than that of a brick. 180 degree autorotations are a violent and aerobatic maneuver in my opinion and should be avoided.
When your wings are leading, lagging, flapping, precessing and moving faster than your fuselage there's something unnatural going on. Is this the way men were meant to fly?
While hovering, if you start to sink a bit, you pull up on the collective while twisting the throttle, push with your left foot (more torque) and move the stick left (more translating tendency) to hold your spot. If you now need to stop rising, you do the opposite in that order. Sometimes in wind you do this many times each second. Don't you think that's a strange way to fly?
For Helicopters: You never want to feel a sinking feeling in your gut (low "g" pushover) while flying a two bladed under slung teetering rotor system. You are about to do a snap-roll to the right and crash.
For that matter, any remotely aerobatic maneuver should be avoided in a Huey.
Don't push your luck. It will run out soon enough anyway.
If everything is working fine on your helicopter consider yourself temporarily lucky.
Something is about to break.
Harry Reasoner once wrote the following about helicopter pilots:
"The thing is, helicopters are different from planes. An airplane by its nature wants to fly, and if not interfered with too strongly by unusual events or by an incompetent pilot, it will fly. A helicopter does not want to fly. It is maintained in the air by a variety of forces and controls working in opposition to each other, and if there is any disturbance in this delicate balance the helicopter stops flying; immediately and disastrously. There is no such thing as a gliding helicopter. This is why being a helicopter pilot is so different from being an airplane pilot, and why in generality, airplane pilots are open, clear-eyed, buoyant extroverts and helicopter pilots are brooding introspective anticipators of trouble. They know if something bad has not happened it is about to."
Having said all this, I must admit that flying in a helicopter is one of the most satisfying and exhilarating experiences I have ever enjoyed: skimming over the tops of trees at 100 knots is something we should all be able to do at least once.
And remember the fighter pilot's prayer: "Lord I pray for the eyes of an eagle, the heart of a lion and the balls of a combat helicopter pilot."
Many years later I know that it was sometimes anything but fun, but now it IS something to brag about for those of us who survived the experience.
I have a lot of time, both military and civilian, riding in those contraptions.
Here in my area, I know and have know most of the chopper pilots. Over the last 30+ years, 7-8 of them met their demise. I considered all of them be be great pilots.
I think about that every now and then ~ actually every time I see a helicopter flyover from Quantico to the Pentagon.
They're better now ~
I can add those VTOL Harrier pilots to this list helo:
RIP Ken Donolley, USMC, TAMU 1978, Fish Drill Team Captain, 1974.
It’s been a few years since I’ve last flown. Prolly won’t have the need or the requirement to do it anymore, but like you, I remember many lives lost everytime I’m around or see these things. My first ride was in the late 60’s, so I’ve dodged a lot of chances to go down.
My father browbeat the army into sending him to flight school in the late 50’s (he lined up a civilian job, and threatened to resign if he wasn’t sent to flight school). Late 50’s, early 60’s, the Army required it’s pilots to qualify in both fixed-wing and helicopters, so he did both. He always claimed to be the first instrument qualified helicopter pilot in the Arny. Lot’s of great stories about flight schools, and the instructors. He wrote a bit of a memoir a few years before his death- all quite interesting.
Dad was a very calm individual- obviously spent most of his flight time in airplanes :).
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Traffic was stopped on the freeway. Talked to the truck driver parked next to me. He was an ex-helicopter pilot who had failed his physical. Based on CB evidence, he claimed that the IQ of the average truck driver was equal to the outdoor temperature.
Good post - been working with rotorcraft since 1980 - have seen an H-53 do a loop - damndest thing you ever saw - ‘course it was a very BIG loop....
May God rest his soul, and ease theirs and yours.
May God bless.
You guys are all amazing. I love to fly, but am scared to death of helos. I am so glad you are all home, and I can’t thank you all enough for doing what we are all afraid to do, especially the guys who pick up our wounded, unarmed and with painted targets.
It would have to be a 53 to carry aloft that big a set of gonads.
To fly is heavenly. To hover, divine.
You would be totally amazed!
You just got to stand in awe of any one so G D goofy to want (actually WANT) to fly one of these. That's a special kind of flyer, IMHO.
FRinks on the house to all of you so nucking futs! I love you all.
I am old enough to remember and to have laughed at “Air Wolf”. It was a program about a ‘supersonic-capable’ help. When I started detailing all of the impossibilities of this, I just gave up and switched channels.
Fixed wing aircraft work even when parts fall off, rotary works until parts fail. Fixed wings glide, rotary don’t.
Durned spellchecker made the 'o' turn into a 'p' - Aaarrrggggghhhh!
In the early days of our cable TV system around here when they started adding channels past the basic networks and the Chicago and Atlanta superstations they added one channel that showed that stupid Air Wolf show all friggin day. We jokingly referred to it locally as the Helicopter Channel.