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Do tuna boat helicopters just fly around in circles looking for fish ? How does the pilot find his way back to the boat , do you just have to stay in sight of the boat? Is there electonic beakons to giude you back? Isn't landing on the boat going up and down on the swells diffucult.

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I know they look for the schools of fish and surely do NOT say in sight of the boat. They would most likely have beacons and/or satellite tracking--if not on the helicopter, on your person.

 

And I don't know if this still happens, but they used to throw dynamite out of the helicopter to drive the schools toward the nets. I know a guy who's son was killed doing that......all they found was helicopter parts floating in the water. They can only assume there was a mishandling of the explosives.

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Tuna boat pilots spend most of their flight time checking “bird radar” contacts to look at the fish schools. The heli is used to extend the range the fish can be observed from the boat and give the Fishing Master the ability to select the best school from the options. We make the fishing more efficient. The second biggest use of the helicopter is to hover low over the water and help scare the fish and hold them in the net if they are trying to escape before it closes fully. There is also a little ship to ship transfer of stores and personnel.

 

My aircraft is fitted with a GPS that is linked to the GPS on the ship and plots the ships position, if this were to fail if I can get back within 30Nm then the ship can vector me in using their radar. In addition to this we have dead reckoning and radio direction finding. My fishing master in the helicopter and navigator on the boat are in constant radio contact, we are not sent out to randomly fly around we are sent to check pre existing radar contacts at known locations.

 

Landing on the boat keeps life interesting and every landing is different, but boat operations can be conducted safely if you set sensible wind and sea state limits. Educating and working with the boat’s crew is very important as the boats speed and direction relative to the wind and swell makes a huge difference to safety during both take off and landing.

 

I haven’t seen or heard of explosives being used these days we use green die, but I am sure various things were tried in the past.

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I'm no tuna pilot, but looked a little bit into it a while ago when I first heard it. I stumbled across this and I think this is a nice documentary about the work of a tuna pilot:

 

Moggy's Tuna Manual

 

Very in depth and fun to read

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Do tuna boat helicopters just fly around in circles looking for fish ? How does the pilot find his way back to the boat , do you just have to stay in sight of the boat? Is there electronic beacons to guide you back? Isn't landing on the boat going up and down on the swells difficult.

 

This has varied over the years. In the 70s and 80s it was radio reception and marine transponders 18 -25 miles . The 90s had a Ross marine radio that would send GPS codes from bird to boat.

 

Most pilots fly out to the side ( beam ) and arc around the bow 25 -30 miles . We used 1200 MHz radios ,2 meter ,6 meter and any odd ham or any taxi radio we could find .

 

If you can drive a stick shift car or ride a bicycle . You can land on a boat .

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I'm no tuna pilot, but looked a little bit into it a while ago when I first heard it. I stumbled across this and I think this is a nice documentary about the work of a tuna pilot:

 

Moggy's Tuna Manual

 

Very in depth and fun to read

 

Moggy's Tuna Manual is the most accurate and fully documented information I’ve seen on-line about tuna boat life, as I remember it.

 

Also, the so-called seal bombs (seal control explosives) were used. They have been known to cause some severe hand injuries. However, I've never heard of any deaths.

 

They were used during the sets and thrown from the stern of the boat. They were even thrown from the helicopter; however, that was discontinued after a number of accidents and/or near misses.

 

The demand for helicopters and pilots was dependent on the price of tune per ton. The 70’s – 80”s saw frozen Skipjack around $1600/ton. During the periods 90’s – 2010 the price of frozen Skipjack dropped as low as $500/ton and in 2008 hit a new high of $1950/ton. The current 2010 price is between $900-$1000/ton.

 

Taking into account inflation the lower prices are even more dramatic.

 

Skipjack being the basic tuna (so-to-speak) Yellow Fin would price as must as $800/ton higher.

 

Squid fishermen's seal bombs rattle nighttime scuba divers

Edited by iChris

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Thanks for the links to Moggy's Tuna Manual. Have some down time now and really enjoyed the read. LMAO at some of his stories. Good tips and advice applicable to all flying.

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Do tuna boat helicopters just fly around in circles looking for fish?

 

The crew flies a pattern set forth by the observer. Some fly aimlessly while others have a plan of some kind.

 

How does the pilot find his way back to the boat, do you just have to stay in sight of the boat?

 

Every 10 minutes the boat navigator will tell you the heading and distance to return to the boat. However, if you are a smart pilot, you don’t rely on this and you get real familiar with the aircrafts GPS and learn how to find the boat if needed.

 

Are there electronic beacons to guide you back?

 

No. At least not on the boat I worked on.

 

Isn't landing on the boat going up and down on the swells difficult.

 

Just like anything else, it takes getting used to. That is, challenging at first resulting in normal reaction after time.

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Guys, we have been working away at "Moggy's Tuna Manual" in a pro-active safety effort, aimed at reducing the appalling accident statistics in the Tuna Helicopter Industry world wide. There are a few items I'd like to bring to your attention:

 

1) we have a new domain name, (in addition to www.tunaboathelicopters.ORG) namely WWW.CHOPPERSTORIES.COM That reflects an increasing effort to produce pro-active safety material that has a broader helicopter appeal, not just tuna boats. (put that domain address in your big ADDRESS BAR, not the search box)

 

2) We strongly encourage pilots considering a tuna helicopter position, to take the trouble to visit our site. We are not so arrogant as to presume to be suffiently skilled to tell you THE WAY to do things. Rather, we seek to alert you to the many pitfalls, walk you through scenarios, so you can arrive in the Tuna Fields a much wiser novice.

 

3) We are working on a printed version of Moggy's Tuna Manual. Feel free to input and critique.

 

4) If you want to contribute an article, talk to me. I'm also on Facebook.

 

Moggy

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Moggy, Thanks for writing so much about the Tuna business. I've spent many hours reading and learning. Good for you taking a lead on improving safety.

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No kidding, you are the man, Moggy. I've spent the last 3 hours reading the Blip On The Radar stories. Holy crap some of the stuff you went through would have definitely sent a lesser man packing!

 

PS I really hope you are still rockin the Woolly Bugger beard! haha

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I just had my first boat landing. Landed a Longranger on a container ship making 17 kts waterspeed into a 20 kt wind. The helideck is at the stern behind all the stacked containers, so the burble on short final is quite "interesting". I was really glad to have read Moggy's manual. Great advice. Thanks for doing so much to promote a safety culture, and damn good stories.

 

Namaste to you Moggy.

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PS I really hope you are still rockin the Woolly Bugger beard! haha

What Wooly Bugger beard??

 

Oh, you mean THIS ONE?

 

Moggy2_zps4987cd22.jpg

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Come on Moggy, you know PHI made you shave that!! LOL Otherwise they wouldn't be able to distinguish between you and the roughnecks you haul back and forth. :)

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No, actually. It was the Sheriff's Office. I've been with PHI ten years, prior to that LE.

Well, I had these drawn out interviews, including lie detector tests (twice). They weren't happy how easily I lied, when i was told to tell a deliberate lie. The needle never quivered, or whatever it was supposed to do. Anyway, I was finally offered the job with a curt:

"THE BEARD HAS GOT TO GO!!"

Followed by:

"Does it never itch?"

To which I replied, "Only during sex". I then compounded that error of judgement by laughing hysterically.

(I thought they were going to throw me out right there and then) :rolleyes: .

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I was advised by Hansen 1000 hours (including some turbine time) plus a 500 endorsement a couple of years ago. Tropic would be similar I guess.

For the 44 companies, not sure.

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Okay, for background starters, there does actually exist a certain derelict's web site full of lies and baloney, frequented by low-life dirt bags and fruit cakes. Here's the link:

 

The Wild West of Helicopters

 

If you want up-to-date, latest, who is actually hiring these societal outcasts, you can visit and or join two Facebook groups.

 

Tuna Pilots

Tuna Spotter Helicopter Pilot

 

That will get you started.

 

:o

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"Moggy, Moggy, what you DO??"

It was the captain. His voice up a full octave.

I sighed. We had been through this routine before.

I bowed my head.

I explained. Humbly. Honestly. Surrounded by maniacal Chinese crew men. I'm not sure if they were carrying hatchets.

They might have been.

I explained the whole thing to the captain. Then I looked at the assembled throng. And I kind of...

mimed...

"Oops... Sorry...."

You've got to imagine this phenomenally intelligent, high I.Q. Taiwanese "Fishmaster" (captain) confronted with an apparently sane person, who was capable of flying a helicopter. Who nonetheless also was capable of outlandish goof-ups, and would cause total cultural and logistical chaos, with a perplexed and very apologetic "Oops!" :huh:

 

I really must say he was very good to me. Very hospitable. We spent hundreds of hours after work, drinking and gossiping. Amazing man. Many people looked down condescendingly on the Taiwanese and the Koreans, and still do. (You will see that on various forums) Pity. My ship mates included the most endearing of people. Like to old Chief Engineer, trying to learn English....

 

Good guys. I miss them.

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Not a knock on the man's intelligence, just an observation of what accent my soft human brain attaches to his end of the conversation.

I enjoy Asians, have a lot of friends and my family is in Japan. That's why I'm desperate to get back there. Thought I might have had something in Kota Kinabalu but that's dried up.

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The 'Tuna Safety Manual' is now available as an E-Book.




Edited by Francis Meyrick

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