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She's Baaaaaack!


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#1 Nearly Retired

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Posted 19 August 2019 - 23:10

ED NOTE: This forum has been pretty dead lately.  So I thought I'd post something that's been on my mind for a while.  It's only 1,700 words, so don't get your short-attention-span panties in a wad because it's too long for you to concentrate on.  Just read the damn thing.  Or don't.  Heh, might be a good experiment to see if there's any life left in this forum at all.  Let's see who's still reading!

 

 

(Big Sigh)  Well, she’s making videos again.  Some of you know who I’m talking about.  There’s this…woman…she owns and flies an R-44 which she keeps at her house.  She lives in Wenatchee, Washington, just down the Columbia River from where I work.  For the last couple of years or so she been doing cherry drying (among other things).  And she likes to hang GoPro cameras in her helicopter and make videos which she publishes on her YouTube channel.  She stopped making them for a while, but now she’s back like Joe Biden.  Don’t ask me why; there are some things in this world even I don’t understand.

 

In one of her recent videos, she chronicles a short flight from a cherry orchard over to the Wenatchee Airport.  The camera captures it all.  And some of it of it is good!  But some of it, well, isn’t.  Let’s start with the isn’t.

 

One continuing beef I have with many of these YouTube pilot “content creators” (videographers) is that they never use a checklist.  This woman is a good example.  She goes through the entire starting and takeoff procedure in her R-44 without so much as mentioning a checklist, as if they haven’t been invented yet.  She does briefly mention that she has a “flow.”  Over the years, I’ve heard a lot of pilots make this weak, you might say “pathetic” excuse.  “Oh, I don’t need to use a checklist, I use a flow check!”  BS.  Total BS.  I disagree.  The FAA would disagree.

 

“But Bob,” one of my snarky, smart-ass friends said to me. “We don’t always use the checklist.”  I don’t know if he meant “we” as in “him and me” specifically or “we” as in “most pilots who fly simple, uncomplicated helicopters.  Whatever.  What you do in the privacy of your own cockpit is your business…unless…unless you’re putting up a YouTube video that might have FAA people watching.

 

Checklists were put on this earth, invented by Wilbur and Orville because our human memories are faulty.  Even if you have a “flow” you can forget things.  Trust me on this.  And so if you’re going to put up a video of yourself flying that everyone including God and the FAA can watch, at least give lip service to using a checklist.

 

Moving on…  This woman doesn’t even do the bare minimum of a pre-takeoff check.  Most good pilots I know at least do a quick check of the instrument panel. For instance, many say something along the lines of, “Gauges are up, lights are out, RPM is in the green and we have plenty of fuel.”  Not this woman!’

 

From the earliest days of my flying, it was drilled into me like Kevin Spacey drills an aspiring young actor that upon lifting to a hover, you DO A HOVER POWER CHECK!  If you don’t know how much power it’s taking to hover *here*, how will you know how much reserve power you’ll have *there* at your destination (assuming similar LZ elevations)? 

 

The hover power check is just a good practice.  I insist that all the cherry drying pilots in our company lift to a hover and STOP!  Then take a moment to look at the manifold pressure (or torque) gauge, and maybe even the oil pressure gauge.  Note your hover power.  Then take one last look around the cockpit and see if there’s any reason to *not* go flying.  Don’t take all day doing this – it shouldn’t take more than a second or two.  *Then* go flying!

 

But no.  Many helicopter pilots use the “pull and go” method of lifting to a hover and taking off.  Including this woman.  I’ve complained about this before.  In my opinion, it’s horrible airmanship. 

 

The FAA seems to agree.  They even published a SAFO (Safety Alert For Operators) on the subject.  If you want to look it up and read it (and you should) it’s SAFO #16016.

 

In the video I’m talking about, as she is en route to the Wenatchee Airport another airplane calls on the radio inbound.  This woman tells us about helicopter minimum altitudes.  She says she likes to stay at between 500 and 1,000 feet AGL, and notes that right there she was about 700 feet AGL.  I know it’s hard to tell from watching a video, but to me she sure seemed a lot lower than that! 

 

When she landed at Wenatchee I noticed that her altimeter said “1,300 feet.”  Curious, I backed the video up a bit.  When she said she was at “around 700 feet AGL” (and about a mile or so from the airport), her altimeter read 1,400 - 1,500 feet.  Wenatchee is not up on a shelf.  She was *low*, baby. 

 

Me personally, I like to fly at an altitude that will at least let me do a 180 degree turn back into the wind if the engine quits.  If you fly at 300 feet AGL or lower and it quits, you are GOING to land straight ahead no matter where the wind is coming from.  Don’t even pretend that you will whip it around into the wind, Mr. Yeager.  That ain’t gonna happen.  It is not good airmanship to get down in the trees, just over the rooftops simply because you’re approaching an airport, controlled or otherwise.  There’s hardly ever any need to do that.  I mean, it’s like masturbation for married men: Yeah, it might be fun now and then, but why do it routinely when you don’t have to?  Unless you do.  And if you were married to my ex-wife, you’d understand why one of my arms is disproportionately bigger than the other.  But never mind that!

 

Okay, where was I?  Ahh, back to the video!  When she gets to the airport - *IF* she checks the wind at all, she doesn’t mention it.  In fact, in two videos that I watched of her landing at Wenatchee, in neither did she land into the wind or make any mention of the wind.  "Now, really Bob, does it matter in a helicopter…especially when there’s not much wind and you’re landing at a big, flat airport where having some ground-run at the bottom of an auto is really no big deal?"  No, it probably does not – at least to lazy, complacent pilots.  But it matters to me.  *You* could land downwind every time for all I care.  I just don’t do it.  And *apparently* this woman’s attention to the wind is nonexistent.  And again, that’s just bad airmanship.  Hey toots, I’m from the FAA and I’m here to help: Hows about tuning up the ATIS once in a while?

 

Okay, look, not everybody flies exactly like I do, and I don’t insist that everyone subscribe to my particular fantasies, philosophies, procedures and techniques (which I might add are born from over 35 years and 11,000+ hours as a professional pilot).  All’s I’m saying is that if YOU are going to put up a video on YouTube…if YOU are going to represent yourself as an expert…or not even an expert, maybe just some average schmuck who flies with a GoPro attached to his plane, then you better assume that the FAA is going to watch it.  And me.  Along with them will be a whole bunch of impressionable people who know nothing or next-to-nothing about flying and will assume that YOU know what you’re doing because YOU have a YouTube channel!

 

I know that there are a ton of people who love this woman…who think she’s the greatest pilot to ever walk the earth – on water yet!  They ooh and ahh over her mad skills and kiss up to her like Leftists swoon over Alexandria Occasional-Cortex’s every burp and fart.  And even I can admit that some of her videos (this woman’s, not AOC’s) are entertaining - especially those about cherry drying where her skids are down in the trees.  But her procedures suck.  Her airmanship is weak, bruh.  And if *I* were going to put up a bunch of videos that show me in the cockpit, by God I’d pull out a checklist once in a while and pretend to use it. 

 

I would say these things in the Comments section of her videos, but it’s not my intent to throw her under the bus in front of her subscribers and followers and potential customers.  That would be needlessly cruel.  She probably makes money off those videos, and I’d hate to jeopardize someone’s livelihood.  See, I’m a nice guy like that!  And non-pilots wouldn’t know what the hell I was ranting about anyway.  They’d think I was bashing her simply because she’s a woman.  Other male pilots won’t say anything to her, mostly because they don’t want to be perceived as sexist or misogynist, or maybe because she’s the Queen Bee of Wenatchee...and you don't mess with The Queen!  But you jokers…I assume that most of you are all pilots at some level of experience and can relate. 

 

I’m not saying that this…person…(and you know I really shouldn’t identify the pilot as a male or female…  Please disregard everything you might have read above.)  Anyway, I’m not suggesting that (ahem) “this person” should not make videos.  I am saying that he/she should just be smart(er) about it!

 

So use your heads…use your checklists…do a goddam hover power check…do a wind check!...and don’t fly at 200 or 300 feet over houses.  Me, I’d rather assume that the people below me hate helicopter noise and be wrong, than assume that they love helicopter noise and be wrong.  Think about that.  Then again, I fly a big, manly Sikorsky helicopter (which we call “the overcompensator”) which has a huge, 800-horsepower radial engine (with pistons as big as those big red Folger’s coffee cans) that roars and belches fire like the very dragons of hell, not some little pipsqueak Robbie that sounds like a ceiling fan on “high,” a swarm of angry bees or a Quadcopter with fresh batteries.  But still.  You know what I mean, amirite?  Why make enemies needlessly? 

 

I never do.


Edited by Nearly Retired, 20 August 2019 - 12:41.

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#2 TomPPL

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Posted 20 August 2019 - 04:11

Great read NR, thanks for posting.!

 

The forum has indeed been a bit dead of late, however, I'm a permanent lurker, and have been for quite some time.

 

I'm with you on all the comments above, however I feel the checklist, in particular, is important. Sometimes most mistakes are made when we are carrying out a repetitive task, it's sooo easy to omit something - 99.9 times out of a 100 this would be something more or less trivial, something that won't have too much of an effect - that other 0.1% though represents a catastrophic omission that could result in a bad day.


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#3 adam32

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Posted 20 August 2019 - 08:42

Any links to the vids?



#4 r22butters

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Posted 20 August 2019 - 09:43

Any links to the vids?


Here's a couple





,..I'm going back to sleep now.
https//:https://youtu.be/oY-pdk_FWh0

R.I.P. flying for fun :(

#5 Fred0311

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Posted 20 August 2019 - 10:27

Good write up NR, I enjoyed reading it this morning while doing a track and balance flight and drinking my coffee.

I wish I disagreed with something you said so I could troll you a bit but the only thing I come up with is this strange grudge you have against this woman. Is it sexual tension? In any case... We all know all these little safety tidbits as does she. Either people abide by them or they wont, another post about them probably isn't going to change anyone's mind. But the best take away is about the videos. I personally put alot of pictures and videos on Facebook and try to make sure they don't catch any oopsies because you never know who's watching. Aside from the FAA there's always potential future employers.

We had a saying in the Marines, "dont put your war crimes on YouTube".

Edited by Fred0311, 20 August 2019 - 10:28.

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#6 Azhigher

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Posted 20 August 2019 - 12:42

The sourest of sour grapes. 



#7 Fred0311

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Posted 20 August 2019 - 13:10

Sour cherries*
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#8 Tbarrier

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Posted 20 August 2019 - 16:02

Thank God there's something worth reading on here, finally.

 

The Columbia river is 1.3 miles south of Pangborn at roughly 600'.  Airport elevation is 1249' which is kind of on a shelf. I think that one may get a pass....

 

Not disagreeing with the lack of standardization.  In other videos, though, she clearly listens to ATIS on her way to the airport.  There's always room for improvement.

 

Every time I watch videos like this I can't help but think, "what would I nitpick if I had cameras on me every flight?"  In the spirit of trying to be understanding, her target audience may be different than what most of us on here would like to see.  That Yellow-whatever username up in BC has some pretty good videos too, but I could carry some of the same complaints over to him as well.  

 

I'm just impressed pilots are actually willing to put video's out like they do....I'm not so sure I'd be as bold, but I do enjoy watching them.


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#9 helonorth

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Posted 20 August 2019 - 18:49

I hate to tell some of you guys this, but the original post has nothing to do with safety. 


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#10 AkAr

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Posted 20 August 2019 - 18:53

Exactly how much of your cherry-drying work did she win away from you? Even if there are any valid points in that steaming pile of words you just come across as a woman-hater. You should try to be better.
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#11 r22butters

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Posted 20 August 2019 - 19:35

I hate to tell some of you guys this, but the original post has nothing to do with safety.


Yeah, especially that crap about a hover check! Sit in a stabilized hover for three seconds before I yank it away!? Who do Bob and the FAA think they are!

I AIN'T GOT TIME FOR SUCH BULLSHIT!!!!
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https//:https://youtu.be/oY-pdk_FWh0

R.I.P. flying for fun :(

#12 adam32

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Posted 21 August 2019 - 08:48

I haven't watched the vids yet, but just seeing the screengrab on the 2nd vid posted shows her hand relaxed on the left seat and not on the collective...again, probably not a huge deal in real helicopters, but in a Robbie...no bueno. 

 

Actually, all the denim kinda reminds me of AvBug. 


Edited by adam32, 21 August 2019 - 08:51.


#13 Nearly Retired

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Posted 21 August 2019 - 11:36

Awright...might as well address some comments...

 

TomPPL: You're right about checklists.  All pilots get complacent, and even I'm guilty.  The guy I was flying with this season (my PIC) was relatively low-time and had good checklist discipline.  But checklists are not "do-lists."  We are free to improvise, as long as the items on the list are accomplished. 

 

My PIC had a particular way of running a portion of the checklist that impressed me - and I learned something from him!  I think that's awesome that no matter how much experience you have, you can still learn something from flying with someone else.  So always try to fly with other pilots - and - let them fly!  You never know what you might pick up from them ;-) 

 

Thanks Fred for your comment!  As for my "strange grudge" against this person, I simply don't like her, that's all.  We don't have to like everyone on the planet - and not everyone is going to like us!  The problem I have with this woman is that she's an avowed atheist and I don't like atheists.  So sue me.  As a pilot (and a human) I have too much faith in many things to not have faith in a Creator.  I know, I know, this isn't the proper forum for religious discussions.  But we're friggin' PILOTS here.  We have to have faith...faith in our machines, faith in our mechanics, faith in the designers, faith in our passengers to not get out and walk into our tail rotors...faith in ourselves!  We have oodles of faith!  I mean, come on!  To have all this faith and yet denounce that there *might* even be a higher power is just silly.  And immature.  And a bunch of other things.  

 

Tbarrier:  ...Except that this pilot was not over the river.  She was about a mile or two northwest of the airport over land, up on the "shelf."  Watch the video and see houses going by underneath really closely.  You can tell that she's low.  I've got a fair amount of flight time, and I can pretty much gauge my altitude without looking at the altimeter.  And again, why be so low if you don't have to be?  There is no guarantee that the people in the house you're flying over at 200-300' love helicopter noise.

 

Helonorth: Quite right, the post has little to do with safety and more to do with what we publish for the public and the FAA to see.  Fred put it right: "Don't put your war crimes on YouTube."  

 

I actually watch a lot of these YouTube pilot vloggers - fixed-wingers, mostly (like JP, The Candourist who is awesome), but also people like Mischa (Pilot Yellow) who does fairly decent job and is very experienced in mountain flying in severely underpowered helicopters.  I do admire pilots who are willing and able to "put themselves out there" on  YouTube.

 

AkAr:  "Exactly how much of your cherry-drying work did she win away from you?  Even if there are any valid points in that steaming pile of words you just come across as a woman-hater.  You should try to be better."

 

AHHHAHAHAHA!  "Steaming pile of words."  Oh, AlluhAkbar, thank you for that!  It made me laugh - maybe not out loud, but close.  So *you* are one of her gushing fangirls, eh?  That's cool.  I knew one of you would have to bite.  Welcome to the forum, babe!  Hey, tell Whatsername I said hi.  

 

To be clear: The company I work for does not have any customers in the Wenatchee market.  We have deliberately avoided going down there for a number of reasons.  So this pilot...(and she has asked me to not refer to her by gender anymore so I won't say whether she's a man or a woman)...has not taken any work from us. To even think that's possible is laughable, actually.

 

But since you brought it up...this year we were approached by...well I won't say whom, but we have been asked to come down to Wenatchee by a grower who is currently using R-44s and is not satisfied with the results.  The boss and I had extensive discussions this summer about what it would take for us to put a couple of ships down there next year...and whether we even wanted to do it.  It's such a crappy market and we're happy where we are.

 

As an aside, coincidentally my farm manager (who's been using helicopters to dry his cherries for 15 years) came to me one day this season.  He was laughing.  He said, "Hey, I watched a video of a woman drying cherries down in Wenatchee on YouTube last night!"  I groaned and said, "Yeah, that's ol' (pilot who must not be named)."  He made some disparaging comments about her inexperience and not knowing what a wind machine was used for in a cherry orchard, and some about the R-44.  "We'll never be using an R-44 to dry!" he said.  

 

With its skids in the tops of the trees, the R-44 shakes the top branches pretty good - I'll admit that.  But it just doesn't have the downwash penetration needed to clear the water out of the big clumps of cherries at the bottom of the tree.  And at the speed most R-44 pilots fly....I mean, wow!  Getting the cherries dried is about downwash volume, velocity, and time.  The R-44 is deficient in all three.  But it's cheap, I guess, so a lot of farmers use it in the hope that it will increase their "pack-out" by any percentage at all.  Our lumbering Sikorskys are expensive, but they do a damn good job.  I think it actually scares the water off the cherries.

 

Finally, Adam32:  I wouldn't criticize an R-44 pilot for not having their hand on the collective 100% of the time.  With respect to inertia, the R-44 rotor system is more like that of a Bell 206 than an R-22.  It's no big deal.  An experienced pilot can get their hand back on the collective in no time.  But!  If the engine of an R-44 were to quit while hovering over cherry trees, there would be little the pilot could do except yank that thing up as hard and fast as you could.  All of us who do this job understand that if anything happens while over the trees, it's gonna be ugly.  

 

...End of steaming pile of words.


Edited by Nearly Retired, 21 August 2019 - 11:39.

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#14 AkAr

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Posted 21 August 2019 - 13:09

Sounds like I touched a nerve!

Edit: it's interesting that you use female-gendered words as attempted insults. Really speaks to your state of mind. Did your mommy hurt you? Is that where the woman-hating comes from? Luckily you and your kind are a literal dying breed.

Edited by AkAr, 21 August 2019 - 13:15.


#15 Nearly Retired

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Posted 21 August 2019 - 16:11

Oooooh, Alluh Akbar, sorry if I touched one of *your* nerves!  It's okay, sweetie.  I've always said that women have a definite place in aviation...in the back, making sandwiches and getting coffee for the guys up front ;-)  



#16 r22butters

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Posted 21 August 2019 - 16:56

Next week on Celebrity Death Match,...Millennial Snowflake vs. Crotchety Old Fart!

Yep, its everything you've been waiting for,...bunched panties vs. saging depends! Manhole covers will fly,...to be deflected by Maintenance hole covers! Stewadeses will run to the ladys room and flight attendants will cower in gender neutral facilities!

Its the battle of the century, so place your bets and pray to your god,...or flying spaghetti monster!



Yeah, I know, its a bit "JH", but it still beats another "(enter month here) board" post!
https//:https://youtu.be/oY-pdk_FWh0

R.I.P. flying for fun :(

#17 Nearly Retired

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Posted 21 August 2019 - 18:22

Oh man, Butters, you have no idea!  You think the "maintenance hole" covers are flying now, you just wait!  I've got a post that I'm just itching to make here about the big hoo-hah that erupted over a controversial column in FLYING Magazine by one Martha Lunken.  It was innocent enough, but a certain well-known female aviation journalist took offense to it and then took it upon herself to object - loudly.  Women stick together in a way men don't (witness them all going to the ladies room at the same time?) - and you know what happens when you get a bunch of angry chicks together!  Let's just say that hilarity did *not* ensue.  It got Ms. Lunken suspended from the magazine for a few months.  But like I said, that's a bedtime story for another time.

 

You know, it's funny.  If I criticize a male pilot (and I often do), people don't call me a man-hater.  But if I criticize a female pilot then I must necessarily hate women.  Hmm, that's kind of odd, no?  In reality I hate everyone equally!  



#18 Tbarrier

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Posted 22 August 2019 - 09:11

I cant find the specific part in the video youre talking about, but if it was northwest then it was on a higher shelf than the airport is on.... pass revoked.

I just watched the Yellowpilot video on the 300 overpitching and with LTE crash into the lake. I cant seem to remember using that term in flight school, but I like the way he explains it. Maybe its my CRS syndrome.... The video isnt perfect but great content! Perhaps Butters can post the link, as hes obviously more proficient than I am.

#19 r22butters

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Posted 22 August 2019 - 09:24

Not a big fan of pilot yellow, but sure, here ya go,...


https//:https://youtu.be/oY-pdk_FWh0

R.I.P. flying for fun :(

#20 Nearly Retired

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Posted 22 August 2019 - 12:37

We didn't have a lot of the new, fancy terms for things when I was learning how to fly.  If you ran into a limit (MP or throttle travel) and kept pulling on the collective and bled the RPM down, we didn't call it "overpitching," we simply called it, "being a dumbass."  

 

I watch Pilot Yellow's videos.  Like our R-44 friend in Wenatchee, Mischa has people who think he's the next coming of Jesus Christ.  Me...meh, I don't think he has nearly the experience he pretends to have.  That said, his videos are entertaining, informative and *usually* pretty spot-on.  I can nitpick (you all know I can!), and from time to time I've disagreed with him in the Comments section of his videos (and with his brother at Heli-Expo), but overall I think he does a good job as a YouTube "content creator."  

 

We helicopter pilots do not always fly from nice, big, flat airports.  We do a lot of off-aiport landings, and sometimes those sites are pretty dang small.  Personally, I've done a million of 'em - I could write a book!  Mischa did a video about off-airport confined area landings, and I watched it with my usual jaundiced eye, fingers poised over the keyboard, ready to pounce!  Ironically I didn't find anything to criticize or be negative about!  It was kind of a letdown.  I felt...I dunno...deflated...like a Thanksgiving Day Parade float of President Kennedy with Lee Harvey Oswald in Macy's upstairs window as it goes by.  And those who know me know how full of hot air I can be!

 

So I say to all you YouTube "content creators": Put out your videos...we love to see them.  But please please please don't incriminate yourself.  And don't set a bad example for people who might not know anything about how aircraft fly.






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