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Head orientation during low level Ops


DS_HMMR

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I'm wondering what is the preferred, training, or natural tendency of Long time pilots who conduct operations where the terrain, horizon, and speeds dictate maintaining a sight picture where you cannot lose your orientation to the terrain (or target). Maybe this is a Military type question, but I see how it could bleed thru to AG, vertical reference and/or ops like christmas tree hauling.

 

when you fly, is your head on a swivel, or do you tend to orientate to the front of Helo and let your eyes swivel.?

 

edited for horrendous grammar.

Edited by DS_HMMR
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Head on a continuous swivel, 98% outside, 2% engine check heads down... (My civilian time is done via ALE)

 

I set Tq to a predetermined value, and manipulate the collective based on where I set it (call it flying by feel)

 

Not only do you need to worry about terrain/obstacles... But for me, i bet B 1 RD's cause more strife at NoE

 

Also, flying low level after leaving the military was a totally different experience... Especially after losing my HMD and FLIR.

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Eyes outside, and everywhere. Powerlines, trees, other aircraft, big rocks, mountain goats. The usual.

 

Look into the turn, when turning. Seems intuitive, but it's not. Many years ago the USAF did studies about a rising incidence of neck strain and injuries during undergraduate pilot training in fixed wing. Students in fast moving high-g aircraft were experiencing neck injuries, and what the air force learned was that if the students would turn their neck and look into the turn, the strains and injuries were alleviated. Same when moving slow, but more importantly, look where you're going to go, and in a turn, it's in the direction of the turn. Look the other way too...see what's coming that could cut you off.

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Head's on a swivel, especially if your flying single pilot with no one else looking out for obstacles. During the day it's not as drastic as night ops because you can use a lot of peripheral vision. At night turning your head becomes pretty much necessary to judge closure rates on landing. Even with HUD I relied more on scan than symbology. The key is to isolate your right arm from what your head is doing. Uncomfortable at first but you get used to it.

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Nap of the eartth, low level and regular ol' flying, head out and eyes moving all the time. The helo's moving through space, clear it visually. The gauges, any of them, only as required. Nobody ever crashed into a torque gauge, and hardly ever for just being 50 feet off altitude.

 

Eyes inside and head fixed when one is IFR and hard, hard IMC.

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Pilots who look like statues while flying have an increased risk of collision. Head inside IFR-centric pilots who often fiddle with the instruments, GPS and nav radios even while flying in clear-blue-32 over familiar terrain operate at an increased risk as well. Short of a catastrophic mechanical event; death will always come from the outside… The simple fact is, head on a swivel while flying is necessary for collision avoidance especially when down low. Moreover, it’s not only wise to move your head, but your body as well. Sometimes, movement about the torso to look as far aft as possible to clear the rear is required. Plus, the ability to maneuver the machine while looking straight down and around can be the difference of a successful op, or not…..

Edited by Spike
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Most of this has already been said, but here's my two bits.

 

Some of the smoothest and safest pilots I have worked with had a tendency to move all about the cabin, constantly shifting, looking, leaning, turning as far back as possible when clearing turns, etc. It saved our bacon a few times. Only after I videotaped myself flying on a GoPro did I realize I do the same thing, to the point that it looks like I have a disability or something, or like a scared cat backed into a corner is more like it. A pilot friend from Brazil once told me that I spent too much time looking in different directions and that I should focus out front because of the high risk of hitting birds. I had to laugh. Every time I have nearly hit a bird it came from somewhere other than out front. In flying, if you are sitting still, you are missing a huge piece of the picture. You need to be aware as much as possible of what is going on all around you, not just 360 degrees, but in all three dimensions. You can't do that by locking your head forward.

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Trying to keep your head oriented to the horizon won't help disorientation; it will increase it. If you're turning and banked, your semicircular canals are oriented to motion, not the horizon. Your body "thinks" the floor floor of the aircraft is the earth, and if you're banked in a turn, trying to stay oriented to the horizon is exactly the wrong thing to do. The horizon in your head and in your internal balance is still referenced to a point parallel (roughly) to the floor of the aircraft.

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Funny you mention this, I was watching a video in which I was flying, and noticed how much I was shifting, head position never in the same spot, leaning forward and back and likened it to some kind of disability. Lol

 

 

 

Most of this has already been said, but here's my two bits.

 

Some of the smoothest and safest pilots I have worked with had a tendency to move all about the cabin, constantly shifting, looking, leaning, turning as far back as possible when clearing turns, etc. It saved our bacon a few times. Only after I videotaped myself flying on a GoPro did I realize I do the same thing, to the point that it looks like I have a disability or something, or like a scared cat backed into a corner is more like it. A pilot friend from Brazil once told me that I spent too much time looking in different directions and that I should focus out front because of the high risk of hitting birds. I had to laugh. Every time I have nearly hit a bird it came from somewhere other than out front. In flying, if you are sitting still, you are missing a huge piece of the picture. You need to be aware as much as possible of what is going on all around you, not just 360 degrees, but in all three dimensions. You can't do that by locking your head forward.

Edited by wopilot
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In this business, the term situational awareness tends to be rather sterile, and one detrimental in a 3 dimensional world. That is, folks who have a keen sense of body orientation and space are highly adaptive to the environment. I can say without a doubt, pre-aviation, years of racing motocross provided me with instincts of physical spatial awareness. Years of navigating a 200lb motorcycle on a track with 30 other guys while being airborne 20% of the time will no doubt enhance the senses. Simply put, for me the analogy is, the ability of driving a car on a freeway is nowhere near an accurate comparison. Driving a car during a NASCAR practice may be.. I can attest from experience, while flying, when the proverbial poop hits the fan, its full-on WFO race day……….. Fosho…..

Edited by Spike
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In this business, the term situational awareness tends to be rather sterile, and one detrimental in a 3 dimensional world. That is, folks who have a keen sense of body orientation and space are highly adaptive to the environment. I can say without a doubt, pre-aviation, years of racing motocross provided me with instincts of physical spatial awareness. Years of navigating a 200lb motorcycle on a track with 30 other guys while being airborne 20% of the time will no doubt enhance the senses. Simply put, for me the analogy is, the ability of driving a car on a freeway is nowhere near an accurate comparison. Driving a car during a NASCAR practice may be.. I can attest from experience, while flying, when the proverbial poop hits the fan, its full-on WFO race day……….. Fosho…..

 

Probably why a lot of helicopter pilots also own motorcycles. They seem to go hand in hand.

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