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Hey Everyone,

 

First time poster here with some general questions...first I should give you some background about myself and why I'm posting here.

 

Just recently, I've gone looking for another job. I'm a college student studying film & video. I stumbled upon an awesome job which I'm currently being trained for. As you may have guessed, it's relating to helicopters.

 

My job is riding along in a local news helicopter in PA, acting as the camera operator for the news station. Today was my first flight off the ground where I got some actual training filming things on the ground.

 

I don't get motion sickness in cars/planes/busses/trains and I never physically got sick but I started feeling uncomfortable toward the end of the flight as we were landing. We were probably in the air for maybe 45 minutes...this was also my first helicopter flight ever, too.

 

I started sweating a lot near the end...mind you I was wearing many layers (t-shirt, long sleeve button up shirt, and a winter jacket) all while in the chopper. Today in PA was relatively chilly, about 40 degrees for the high. I popped off the jacket and rolled up my sleeves which did help. The only other thing I could find that bothered me were my ears popping like crazy and some pressure on my head.

 

I was looking down a lot using the camera controls and watching a monitor from my seat...if that would cause any of this. The pilot did some large swooping/bank turns which I'm sure contributed to my feelings.

 

My question is...I ultimately got the job and will be going back for more training before becoming a part-time/back up camera operator. I understand it was my first flight ever....is there anything I could do to improve myself for my next flight? I've read ginger candy if I felt sick, which I really didn't. Maybe I'd leave behind the winter jacket for a lighter jacket next time.

 

Any input/advice would be extremely helpful!

 

Thanks in advance!

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Well you definitely were experiencing the signs of impending airsickness! I suspect that the transition from "feeling hot" to puking like a drunk teenager would be instantaneous. And yes, looking at a video screen (or through a camera viewfinder) absolutely makes airsickness worse.

 

Many moons ago I took a photographer up in an Enstrom for a door-off photo. He had to get some shots of a road intersection where a car accident had occurred. Needed the dreaded straight-down shot. I warned him - oh yes I warned him! But he swore to me...SWORE to me that he was an experienced aerial photographer and that he "never got sick." Yeah. Right. Roger that.

 

So out we went. Got on-station and I began a shallow orbit while he got his preliminary shots. Then it came time for the tight overhead spiral so he could get his straight-down view. That did it! He puked. Oh my God it was horrible. He puked and puked and puked...I've never seen anyone puke that much so suddenly...even me! And let me tell you, I've drank a bit in my life and have suffered the results of overindulgence...driven the porcelain bus more times than I care to remember if you know what I mean and I'm sure you do.

 

We got back to base and he left in a gawd-awful hurry. Your faithful servant was left to clean up the mess.

 

But as for you Heli_Noobie, I don't know what the solution is. Lots of ENG helicopters all over the place have "photo-journalists" onboard who stare at images through camera viewfinders or video screens. I'd wager some of them get sick. So. Just be prepared! Carry some easily-deployable airsick containers and keep them handy for when the urge to get sick comes on with little or no notice. If it happens, you're ready. Many people report that after the first bout of motion sickness you feel better and can continue. (But just as many report being debilitated and dog-sick for the rest of the boat ride, so I dunno...)

 

If you don't actually get sick, no harm/no foul. Perhaps you won't - maybe you were just worrying too much about nothing. Or perhaps with time and experience your comfort level will rise and it won't be a problem. Who knows? But absolutely try to stay cool (temperature-wise) and keep air flowing through the cabin. If you feel yourself getting uncomfortably hot when it's otherwise pretty cool outside (the first sure sign), get some air blowing on you, STAT! And tell the pilot to chill on the swooping and banking (if he can) until the feeling subsides.

 

Other than that, congrats on the new job, and good luck! Let us know how it goes and what works/doesn't work for you.

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I'll pretty much echo what Nearly Retired said.

 

I found some things on the UMM website that seem to describe motion sickness pretty well that might help:

 

Causes:

 

Motion sickness happens when the body, the inner ear, and the eyes send conflicting signals to the brain. This most often happens when you are in a car, boat, or airplane, but it may also happen on flight simulators or amusement park rides. From inside a ship's cabin, your inner ear may sense rolling motions that your eyes cannot see. On the other hand, your eyes may see movement on a "virtual reality" ride that your body does not feel. Once a person gets used to the movement and the motion stops, symptoms may come back (although usually only briefly). Sometimes just thinking about movement can cause anxiety and symptoms of motion sickness.

 

If you have motion sickness on a plane, try these tips:

  • Avoid big, greasy meals and alcohol the night before air travel.
  • Eat light meals or snacks that are low in calories in the 24 hours before air travel.
  • Avoid salty foods and dairy products before air travel.
  • Sit toward the front of the aircraft or in a seat over the wing.
  • Turn the air vent flow toward your face.

If you have motion sickness on a plane, try these tips:

  • Avoid big, greasy meals and alcohol the night before air travel.
  • Eat light meals or snacks that are low in calories in the 24 hours before air travel.
  • Avoid salty foods and dairy products before air travel.
  • Sit toward the front of the aircraft or in a seat over the wing.
  • Turn the air vent flow toward your face.

Following these nutritional tips may help reduce symptoms:

  • Avoid spicy, greasy, or fatty meals.
  • Don't overeat.
  • Drink plenty of water.
  • Dry crackers and carbonated sodas (such as ginger ale) help some people avoid nausea.
  • People who tend to have motion sickness may want to eat small, frequent meals.

In your particular situation, flying in a helicopter is exciting in itself, combined with a potential new job; it can really test your nerves. Add in multiple layers of clothing and you could've simply just overheated. Some fresh air, the right diet, the correct field of vision, and staying relaxed I think will help with any future problems. If you start thinking "oh god, I hope I don't get sick", chances are you'll probably get sick.

 

Moving forward always have a barf bag on hand in case things do go bad from time to time for the pilots sake. :D

 

Look up what I think is called "Gaze Stabilization Exercises" as that might help as well.

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From time to time, or whenever you can, look away from the screen, and find something to look at far enough away that you can see well and appears stationary from some viewing angle.

The rest will get better from building up immunity from repeated exposure. Before long you will be immune to nausea from airsickness.

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These are all really helpful tips, thank you! I'm hoping that this is something my body will naturally adjust to after repeated exposure. I will be going back for some more camera training on the ground next week. I was originally supposed to train on the ground only...but as I arrived a news story came in that they had to cover so I went up with them on a whim. The pilot and the current camera operator did their normal routine (they were both sitting up front) and I was merely observing the process. I was seated in the back left side (behind the camera operator) watching everything, trying to absorb as much as I could.

 

After they got the necessary shots and streamed the video back to the station, they handed me the controls and let me have a crack at it. The pilot would pick out targets for me to cover, like selecting a car going down the highway and follow it - which is about the hardest task you can do especially when zoomed in on the vehicle. The possibility of me getting this job obviously depends on the quality of my camera work (which went a lot better after the first couple minutes of figuring out the controls) and also not getting air/motion sick. There were barf bags on board, just in case.

 

I think at first my excitement overshadowed the possibility of motion/air sickness and it wasn't until I was done filming and we were headed back to the hanger that I began to feel hot and slightly uncomfortable. I'm guessing I was overheating too because the pilot and camera operator weren't wearing nearly as many layers as I was. Do you think adrenaline could cause this too? ...coming down off of a "high" of some sort once we were heading back?

 

Some people have suggested ginger supplements or candy to combat the possibility of motion/air sickness - I wasn't sure how well they'd work but I guess I could always give it a try. I'll follow all the tips previously posted, too, as they seem to help.

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Some people have suggested ginger supplements or candy to combat the possibility of motion/air sickness - I wasn't sure how well they'd work but I guess I could always give it a try. I'll follow all the tips previously posted, too, as they seem to help.

 

Here is the link where I referenced my original post. It talks about ginger and peppermint as well as some other medications.

 

http://www.umm.edu/a...ness-000110.htm

 

I'm not a doctor, but if you felt excited and anxious about your flight I would imagine your heart rate would be elevated and your body producing more heat than normal. Considering the pilots and original crew do this daily, I'm sure they are more relaxed and as you said, wearing less clothing. So combine multiple layers with excessive body heat, and I don't think you have a winning combination for feeling top notch. :)

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I'm hoping that this is something my body will naturally adjust to after repeated exposure.

 

It will. I threw up all over the place on my first ride, felt a bit nauseous on my second, and haven't had a problem since. Keep a bag nearby until you're comfortable.

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I still get a little sick every once in a while when I'm inside the cockpit doing sight work, but have never puked. I try to make sure I'm properly hydrated (not over hydrated) and have plenty of sleep and at least one good meal before I fly. It's usually the days where one of these is out of whack that I start getting sick.

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In my case, I'm totally fine in helicopters and never got sick in them from day one. But sometimes on long plane flights it gets me. Whenever that happenes I have a can of coke and shortly after i feel just fine.

I don't know why but it totally works. Also try not to think about getting sick too much while flying, try to keep your mind busy by focusing on your job.

I remember one day on a ferry ship and we had rugh seas that day. The ship literally banked from side to side I got really sick in no time. But after chatting with my friend for like 5 min I felt great again. .... So it seems like distraction might be a good tool.

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Second on the Ginger. Try the sugar coated cubes from Trader Joes.

 

Was on a long range fishing trip and we were in some big rollers. Everyone, including the crew was seasick. One guy popped up with his ginger chews. Seemed to work. Good luck.

 

So, do you take one at the onset of nausea, or before the flight?

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In my case, I'm totally fine in helicopters and never got sick in them from day one. But sometimes on long plane flights it gets me. Whenever that happenes I have a can of coke and shortly after i feel just fine.

I don't know why but it totally works. Also try not to think about getting sick too much while flying, try to keep your mind busy by focusing on your job.

I remember one day on a ferry ship and we had rugh seas that day. The ship literally banked from side to side I got really sick in no time. But after chatting with my friend for like 5 min I felt great again. .... So it seems like distraction might be a good tool.

 

Funny about the Coke... It settles my stomach when I'm hung over.

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  • 3 months later...

Here is an update everyone. It's been about 4 or 5 months since I've first investigated this job. The local news company had the camera upgraded from a Flir to a Cineflex HD cam. I'm being trained now (this week) and am experiencing these feelings all over again. So, yesterday I was up in the air for about a total of 3.5/4 hours almost straight. I learned how to re-fuel the beast, how to work the camera, and communicate with the news desk to transmit the video signal to the news station via the microwave. I did get sick once yesterday at the very end, we were maybe 30 seconds from the airport. I was so disappointed with myself because I had been fine all day.

 

I usually start getting pretty hot and sweating a lot once we're up there the first few minutes, then I get acclimated and I'm fine. I did take a less drowsy dramamine just to make myself feel better in case anything were to happen - I still got sick. It wasn't a lot at all just a tiny bit but it still happened.

 

So maybe dramamine isn't the best option? I plan to take ginger supplements for my next training (tomorrow) - hopefully that works better. I'm REALLY hoping my body just gets used to flying and this eventually feeling goes away altogether. The other camera OP training me was drinking a full mug of coffee on takeoff and during the flight so nonchalantly - I want to be like that!

 

Anyone else have any tips? It's so appreciated!

 

Thanks in advance - again!

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I second or third or whatever I am in line the Ginger thing... It has worked for me on boats, and I've seen Mythbusters prove it works. Just some over all Ginger pills will work usually if you don't like the candy flavor (I don't personally). As far as in the helicopter, I'll back what most people have said above. Give yourself some time in getting used to doing what your doing just like an aerobatic pilot can't go out and do a 540 tailslide to a hammerhead into an outside loop right out of the box, he has to build up his tolerance. Eventually we all will get sick, if someone has said they have NEVER gotten sick I say bs and they haven't been flying long enough. Try to look away from your screen sometimes, and limit your head movement. If the helicopter is moving, specially turning, and you are moving your head up and down a lot your inner ear will get really messed up quickly, and for me personally I find that I will be more prone to feeling ill the hotter I am. I try to keep myself on the slightly chilly side specially if I'm just riding. (This of course is my own way, you'll have to see if it works for you).

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In my opinion....

 

Airsickness is a psychological reaction to a physiological condition. That is, you are thinking of getting airsick due to your bodies reaction to an unfamiliar environment (ala-3rd dimension). With that, the cure is rather simple -don’t think about it....

 

Airsickness is attune to special disorientation with the added ability to see. Therefore, as your body feels the movement of the aircraft (kinesthetic sense), while you are looking through the camera (vision) and it doesn’t match your internal gyro in your inner ear (vestibular sense), resulting with a sensory overload. Once you recognize these differing feelings, you instantly think “AIRSICKNESS” along with “OH CRAP I’M GOING TO PUKE” which is a panic reaction that causes your brain to dump acid into your stomach leading to a subsequent barf session. The key is not to recognize the differing feelings and you do this by focusing on the job and keep your mind preoccupied by asking questions or looking outside to identify where you are. Always be doing something, such as; while en-route, to or from, manipulate the camera system to find stuff on the ground as you pass by. Good shooters don’t need to look outside the machine to orientate the camera. In the Astar, my guys sit in the inner rear seat away from the window. They simply orientate by looking at their cell phone GPS and locating the scene with the camera prior to our arrival. In any case, stay busy and when a “feeling” starts to creep in, immediately find the horizon. And, move your head slowly. This reduces the chances of fluid acceleration in the inner ear which induces the dizzy feeling…..

 

With that, you must get the thought of “getting airsick” out of your head. Plus I hate to break it to ya, but ginger and Dramamine are basically placebos and it just boils down to how much you can ignore the “feelings”, albeit ginger has its merits. However, once you have convinced yourself you’re going to be sick, it’s too late… Time to gab the bag………..

Edited by Spike
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One thing I didn't see, unless I missed it - don't move your head around quickly. Its called Coriolis Illusion . Also, I don't know if this is an option for you but I always had my Tour customers hold their cameras on the end of their nose or on their forehead - wherever they look their camera will be pointing in the same place. Knock on wood haven't had a sick customer yet. Lastly, while feeling nauseous fixate your gaze on the horizon and take slow deep breaths with some cool air on your face.

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Thanks for the helpful hints guys! I went back to train again today and was sitting up front with the pilot. I had to act as co-pilot and received GPS coordinates for our news scenes from the source and input them into the pilot's GPS and my own GPS (standard car garmin). I also communicated with the engineering to deploy the video via the microwave antenna.

 

I was out for several calls today and felt wonderful! I skipped the Dramamine and did take a ginger supplement for what it's worth. I definitely find sitting up front helps immensely. I'm really getting the hang of all the controls (video and radio) and am really getting comfortable. A cold front was coming in today and was creating some big turbulance and I still felt ok! It really is mind over matter I'm finding, as well - like you all said.

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It's definitely the first job I've had that I enjoy the most. It's a Eurocopter AS350 BA that we're flying in. I'm still new to learning about helicopters and different models but I think it's pretty standard for a typical news chopper, I definitely could be wrong.

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