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Recapturing the Excitement


aeroscout
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I read a post recently, and it talked about attitude. I wish I could find it, it was outstanding, and I wish I could attribute to it as the impetus for this topic.

 

I was hoping that the forum would read some examples of how their helo career has been exciting, from day one to now, and maybe it would help them to think of some incidents that brought excitement, or even re kindled it.

 

When I read this guys post an incident came to mind that brought a big smile to my face, and gave me the idea for this topic. This incident occurred far enough into my helo career that I was becoming complacent because of the daily grind being hum drum, repetitive. The way this topic dovetails into his post is that for me, if I can keep the excitement in focus, it would help me to keep my attitude more positive, and keep it that way longer.

 

I was starting the helo one fine day. My fire guard was fairly new to the unit. On this helo, when you engage the starter, the ignitors fire in a catchy kind of rhythm. Out of the corner of my eye I saw him tapping his feet to the rhythm of the ignitors. He enjoyed just hearing the helo start. I did smile, but caught myself sheepishly realizing that I had let the hum drum take over.

 

Something so simple as just starting a helicopter can be fun, enjoyable, and exciting, and not at all in a bad way.

 

Can't wait to read some of yours.

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Excellent thread Aeroscout.

 

On a perfectly calm day about a year ago I was helping with some track and balance. It was shift change so the oncoming pilot took over while I gathered my things. As I was getting ready to leave I heard the helicopter start up and for some reason I decided to stick around and watch. The helicopter lifted up and stopped in a dead hover about two feet off the ground. I've flown thousands of hours and seen countless helicopters fly but for some reason I just got that childhood feeling of awe again. Here it was, a for ton mass, sitting perfectly motionless two feet off the ground. Was a great feeling, one that gives you goosebumps.

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First off good idea for a thread, there are already some awesome stories.

 

I'll try one.

 

I was practicing "engine failures at a hover" the day before my checkride and it was not going so well, I just got back from vacation and just couldn't get the feel for them that day. My flight instructor decided that we should delay the checkride until the following week so I had time to get everything back in order. I was feeling pretty bummed out and disappointed at this time, so we proceeded to hover taxi back to the ramp to shutdown and debrief. While doing so a CH-47 Chinook helicopter on final from the East fly's in and stops 75 yards in front of me and starts performing Hovering maneuvers south of runway 27L (I was north of runway 27R) there was a decent crosswind and he was holding it in a rock hard hover. It amazed me to say the least, it also made me realize that with lots of hard work and persistence that someday that could be me. After shutting down we debriefed and started talking, my flight instructor said "someday you will be a 5000 hour pilot and will laugh about all of this". I may never be a 5000 hour pilot but you better believe I will do everything I can to accomplish as much as possible in this awesome industry. With those two things I went from feeling very disappointed and frustrated to very exited and eager to get them right the next flight. Which i did!

 

-Josh

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I landed at an airport in Pennsylvania for lunch with my crew and went into the little restaurant right beside where we landed. It had been a stressful day and we were behind for various reasons. I was kinda pissed off and hungry. We went into the restaurant and it was super busy, being a Sunday morning. We had to wait for a couple of minutes for a table to free up which was fine.

A couple were leaving with their two young kids and the woman said, "you just made my son's day by landing out front. He loves helicopters". As they went out the door I asked her if he had every been in one. I ended up taking them out on the ramp and letting him sit inside and take pictures. He was so excited and his parents were too.

His little smiling face sitting in the cockpit with my helmet on really sparked my excitement and put me in good mood. It certainly made me appreciate and feel lucky to do what I do everyday.

 

Flying in the wire environment excites me a lot too!!

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There isn't a day that goes by that I don't look up in the sky and watch something fly. I'm a newcomer to aviation, having only worked around airports for about 5 years now. I get just as excited by flying now as I did 5 years ago or even 15 years ago as a kid watching airplanes fly over my house.

 

It's more than just the aircraft that I love. It seems that every place I live and work I gain an appreciation for the beauty of the world not while I'm flying, but when I'm standing on the ramp or walking out to an aircraft. I can remember quiet summer afternoons on the flight line, the light getting low as the sun set behind the mountains and a soft breeze rustling through the grass, airplanes tied down and tucked away into their hangars, just me, the airport and my thoughts. It was evenings like those that made me realize how at home I felt. Airports are where the sky meets the land; seldom in the places I have been can I get a better view of the horizon than from the wide open clearing of an airport.

 

I'll never forget the freezing cold days working at Boeing Field with slushy rain drops hitting me in the face as we tow an aircraft a quarter mile down the field and sitting next to my buddy who is suffering with me. All either of us can think about is getting the jet put into the hangar and then getting back inside to grab a cup of coffee. Those moments were always oddly exciting, as they put a new spin onto something that we did day in and day out. Working flight line gave me an appreciation for my goals, to be outside in the cold while the pilots were sitting comfortably in the cockpit preparing to see more country in an hour than I could see in a week.

 

And then there were balmy evenings down in Alabama preflighting aircraft perched on the hilltop heliport bustling with activity yet still quiet. Then I'd see the blinking red lights next to me, hear the engine light off, and get a whiff of the exhaust. In a few more minutes it's me climbing in, doors off, running through startup, and before I know it I'm hovering a hundred feet off the ground with the wind swirling through the cockpit and looking at things a set of goggles that allow me to see into the night with amazing clarity.

 

Heading down to the parking lot at midnight after an intense check ride and finding my buddies all standing around a cooler beers in hand talking about their experiences that night. They toss me one, I crack it open, and take a sip. Ice cold, and at that point all the pressure is off. I realize I'm done with flight school and there is nothing in between me and getting my wings pinned on. Even with all of us talking and laughing at our dumb mistakes it's eerily quiet, no whining turbines, no popping rotor blades, not a sound other than our own voices.

 

There's excitement everywhere, you just have to remember to stop and take a deep breath, close your eyes, and reopen them to what's around you.

Edited by SBuzzkill
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The replies so far have been outstanding, and just what I was looking for. Maybe even delightfully surprisingly more than I was looking for. Thanks for the wonderful replies. Keep them coming.

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  • 7 months later...

My second solo cross country. Flying the roads up to the first airport, it was a calm day. Through the mountains I go. Enter the pattern and clear the active to set down while I dial in the radios and GPS for the next leg. Off I go now, towards Sedona. Holy crap is that a beautiful area to fly through! Up and over the tree covered hills, looking for clearings in case things go wrong. Past the trees now and into Sycamore Canyon. No need to look for spots now, it's all one big spot down there.... Time to take in the scenery. That canyon is amazing. It took everything I had to not turn around and go fly through it again! Beautiful steep approach into the pads, set down and dial it all in again. Position reports, scenery, radio, scenery, GPS, dodge a bird! scenery. Don't get complacent, but make damn sure you enjoy this flight!

 

Enjoy it I did. I was also up with two of my friends who were doing the same XC, so we got on the radios with each other every now and then to comment on how awesome it was. Nothing but me, the helicopter and my thoughts. I won't soon forget that day.

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The other day I was practicing autos at this tiny little airport in the city and I noticed this chubby little 12 year old climbing the fence to get up on a perch to watch me maneuvering. It may not sound like much but it was pretty significant to me because I still clearly remember being the chubby little 12 year old watching planes and helicopters go by and now I'm living the dream. Hopefully some day he will too.

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First off good idea for a thread, there are already some awesome stories.

 

I'll try one.

 

I was practicing "engine failures at a hover" the day before my checkride and it was not going so well, I just got back from vacation and just couldn't get the feel for them that day. My flight instructor decided that we should delay the checkride until the following week so I had time to get everything back in order. I was feeling pretty bummed out and disappointed at this time, so we proceeded to hover taxi back to the ramp to shutdown and debrief. While doing so a CH-47 Chinook helicopter on final from the East fly's in and stops 75 yards in front of me and starts performing Hovering maneuvers south of runway 27L (I was north of runway 27R) there was a decent crosswind and he was holding it in a rock hard hover. It amazed me to say the least, it also made me realize that with lots of hard work and persistence that someday that could be me. After shutting down we debriefed and started talking, my flight instructor said "someday you will be a 5000 hour pilot and will laugh about all of this". I may never be a 5000 hour pilot but you better believe I will do everything I can to accomplish as much as possible in this awesome industry. With those two things I went from feeling very disappointed and frustrated to very exited and eager to get them right the next flight. Which i did!

 

-Josh

 

ALL Great posts.

 

I have to ask if anyone else read "rock-hard hover" and had coffee shoot out their nostrils.

Edited by DS_HMMR
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That's usually how I hover. Yes, even at my age.

 

What can I tell you.

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It was my third full day on a tuna boat and while we steamed to the fishing grounds, I decided to visit the pilot house. During my visit, the Croatian (Yugoslavian) Captain asked me, "How many trips have you done"? With a big grin as if I was a 5 year-old, I stuck up my index finger and told him "this is my first one". He snarled back "You go practice!" and even though I knew he was afraid to fly in helicopters because he crashed twice in the past, I asked him, "You go with me?" He said "no, you take the Mechanic". So off I went.

 

The task was to get comfortable with the take-off and landings while the boat moving. No real biggie but it does require some attention and practice. After about 5 or so t/o & landings, I felt pretty comfortable and ready to do the job. The navigator then asked us to head out to check the signal strength of the transponder. So we blasted-off outbound on the same heading as the boat with nothing but blue ocean and blue sky in front of us. It should be noted, this was my first day working a turbine (about hour 5 in a 500).

 

As we flew over the horizon, a small atoll island came into view just a few miles off our course. The mechanic said "Let's check it out." So we did. As we arrived, it looked like one of those dreamy deserted tropical islands with palm trees and a lagoon surrounded by a sand bar. Way, way cool. We then spotted a sizable yacht anchored just outside the lagoon. As we got a little closer, we could see some hotties in bikinis sunbathing on the bough. An obvious diving trip for the rich and famous, we hovered in to say hello but cautious not to disturb their experience (read blast them with our downwash). After a friendly wave, we departed and continued on our outbound task. Sweet!

 

Soon thereafter and at about 500 AOL (above ocean level), I saw a spout of water in the near distance. WTF? "Let's check it out". Sure enough, whales! While understanding the sensitive nature of whales I wasn't too sure of any laws surrounding them especially in international waters. Even so, this is probably a once and a lifetime chance to see something like this up close and personal. As I hovered in close but not too close and the sight was incredible. Kids, I gotta tell ya, the ocean was calm and like glass. The color was a silky deep blue and as clear as a swimming pool. I wasn't sure of the breed but they looked like blue whales. The sunlight was perfect; I could see them swimming what appeared to be slow motion in 3D and I felt like if I reached out I could touch them. An awesome sight in every sense of the word. Even while hovering probably 20 feet above the water, their spouts blew way above us. A couple times, it rained down on us through the rotor system. Un-freaking-believable! Not to overindulge, we let them be and headed back to the boat, in awe.

 

This was my first day flying off a tuna boat. At the time, saying I was jacked would have been the understatement of the century.

Edited by Spike
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I was going to write a post about my first night flight, but now all I can think about is flying a helicopter around the ocean looking for islands, Yachts, and whales!

Let's hear your night story. I would love to see if some of your night flying likes and dislikes are the same as mine. But you are right, it's hard to beat Spike's post, but each reply has it's own elegance

that doesn't compare to any other reply.

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My first night flight was this Monday, and it was memorable because of its simplicity.

 

For the past few months I've been a rookie pilot learning to fly the Apache (when it wasn't trying to fly me). We spend so much time learning about the bells and whistles of glass cockpits and flight management computers. Sometimes it feels as if my world revolves entirely around the symbology in my eye and flying from those green squiggles.

 

The past month was in "the bag" and flying with nothing but that one eye, an infrared camera, and that symbology. It is like you are in a closet looking through a toilet paper tube. Half the time it didn't even feel like flying but more like a video game. Still a fun time, a challenge, and interesting, but it also felt a bit like work.

 

Then the bag phase ended. The check ride was over and we were on to nights. Our first flight was a familiarization for night unaided, and it was the first time flying the Apache at night and without the eye piece. It was just another helicopter. No symbology. No forward looking infrared. Just a couple of sticks, some pedals, and my eyes.

 

As soon as I climbed into the cockpit, it was like some veil had literally lifted from my eyes. It might have been night, but there was no bag and I could still see beyond a tiny field of view. After a short ground taxi we were off to fly patterns. At first I was apprehensive to be flying without the crutch of symbology and my eye piece, but I realized that when you take away some of that technology, the Apache isn’t all that different from an R22 or a TH-67. After that realization I was just enjoying the flight and it didn’t feel like work at all.

 

We didn’t do anything crazy but hovering and patterns. But even holding a hover without the squiggles gave me that same sense of accomplishment that I had years ago when I first managed to keep a 22 in one place.

 

Nothing special. Just a flight on a quiet and peaceful night with some lazy patterns, but it was a moment that reminded me how fun the simple act of being in control of an aircraft can be.

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ALL Great posts.

 

I have to ask if anyone else read "rock-hard hover" and had coffee shoot out their nostrils.

 

Haha really.

 

Ill try another one:

 

Last Tuesday I took some of my family up for a ride. This was the first time I took anyone up, my instructor was in the co-pilot seat and my Brother (who was on leave from the Army) and my Dad were in the back. We departed from KPTK and flew to AnnArbor to take a tour of the Big House (Aka Michigan stadium) and the Ann Arbor area. The wind was at 16 out of 340. Even though it was windy it was still a very pleasant flight. My landing back at PTK was not my smoothest landing (what happens when you fly once a month <_ my instructor hops out to hot unload brother and dad then load mom which i was going take up for a few trips around the pattern. looks at me says her by yourself feelings were mixed between excitement did two pattern helicopter so light along with strong winds it didn want come down probably would of floated there even if cut power returned ramp nice touchdown. an awesome experience before others practice as many pick ups possible emergency procedures make sure can give them safest most pleasant ride possible.>

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Ok, I'll give it a whirl.

 

In 2003 when I got my private helicopter add on I took my Old Man up. He works on microwave radio towers for the county of San Bernadino, so we went to check out some of his mountain top sites from the air. On the way, he was complaining about there being a lot of dumpers up near this one site. When we arrived it just so happened there was someone actively dumping trash out of a white pickup near the site. I decided to get in for a closer look to see if we could get a license number and report them, but they took off! We laid chase, with them hauling butt down the mountain switchbacks and us in hot pursuit. We never did get in close enough to read the plates, and stopped pursuing them for fear they would drive off the side of the mountain. We laughed about it for the rest of the flight. They wouldn't be dumping again any time soon I bet! On the way back, my Dad pointed out an old Nike missile base (long abandoned) from the cold war that he had noticed flying his 172 a decade before. He said he had always wondered what was down there, so I did a high recon and landed on one of the pads. We shut down and went for a look see. Lots of cement, some weird shaped structures with doors standing wide open and all the equipment removed. Doors that appeared to lead underground had been welded shut. Nothing much else to see so we fired back up and headed home. It was a marvelous feeling to be able to do something like that with my Dad, and I know he had a good time too.

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