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Since the cherry drying season is coming up i am thinking about friends that are heading out there, and reflecting on Drew and others that have gotten into trouble flying this job in the past. I find myself wondering if those of you that are flying this year plan a get-together to discuss safety and how to keep yourselves, and especially the newbes, out of trouble.

I know that there are many that return year after year, and surely could mentor everyone and put on a good safety meeting (Nearly Retired). I for one would help sponsor it if money was an issue. I would even consider sending Mike Franz out on my dollar if i felt he could reach the masses and make a difference. Maybe the folks that do the wire strike course at HeliExpo would consider donating a course? Or others that teach this sort of thing (Rich?). There is a chance that the recent R66 crash was a wire strike, and there have been many others lately... it can happen to any of us without warning. I sincerely hope that those of you that are heading out for the first time stop and consider what you are doing, that this is serious business and can kill you. Prepare yourselves and don’t just jump into this season head first. HAI has videos, and there are probably others out there. Hopefully some will jump in on this topic and add links.

If you can organize a safety meeting here are some of the things i’d like to see on your agenda; (if you can’t, print this out, and other safety material, and distribute please)

Helmets, Please wear them at all times, this is a utility operation and has high risk, it could save your life. If you don’t have a helmet, borrow one, or go on Ebay and buy a used one. I would love to see an initiative started where pilots could donate their old helmets to a good cause, and this is just that. There was a new helmet at the Expo this year that was reasonably priced and good looking. Stop right now and see if you can get one for this season.

Hydrate, take water with you, and keep hydrated at all times, it can help with vision, especially in the dark.

Take breaks, do not push yourselves, fatigue can be the start of a very bad day.

REST, this is a dangerous job you are about to undertake, not a party, not a fun flight, not ‘time building’, it has high risk and has killed pilots. Take this job seriously, do not stay up drinking or hanging out at night. Get your rest so you can have mental stamina throughout the flight. Take this job seriously or DO NOT GO.

Say NO, if you don’t feel like it’s safe.. speak up. Not just about your flight, but about others. There isn’t enough money to make your family whole again if something happens to you. The pain that Drew’s family has endured is still sharp to this day.... if you don’t care about yourself, care about your family and the people that care about you.

Scout the fields that you will fly, bad weather days are perfect for this.. get your butt in a car and get out to the the site.. look for wires, towers and other obstacles.

I sincerely hope you all will be safe this year, and if you're reading this and have good input that you can add, please do so.

aloha,

dp

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To All,

 

After losing Andrew last year and in preparation for my FAASTeam presentation at Heli Success, I thought about cherry drying and Situational Awareness and striking obstacles.

 

I was almost on a contract last year and mentally prepared myself for obstacle recognition and avoidance. I thought of what my daily actions would be beyond pre-flight, post flight, etc. Walking the fields and determining where to place obstacle recognition (SA Level I) markers would give me a perspective to the obstacles. After a few days on not flying, walk the fields again, check the markers, be prepared, have Situational Awareness at Level I, perception/recognition.

 

One thing I came up with was to have a way to visually know my obstacle clearance limits. What I came up with was to use brightly colored construction flagging tape and make very large "rose umbrellas" to place in the top of trees to provide visual clearance for an obstacle. Another was to use multiple strips of this flagging on poles as both wind indicators and obstacle clearance markers. I am sure the orchard owners would cooperate in placing these. You saw these at the pre-Heli Success FAASTeam program.

 

Walking the fields after a few days of not flying would keep me in touch with the obstacles. After a rain with a wet bubble/windows, the markers should be visible and assist in obstacle recognition and provide wind direction if on poles.

 

The other item to address is helicopter performance and carrying a second person/pilot? A second set of eyes is great but a verbal distraction is not. This is work, work in a helicopter, down low and around obstructions. A quiet controlled/sterile cockpit and vigilance is paramount. What is the performance gain by not having two pilots in the aircraft? (airframe dependent).

 

One last thing. I spoke with the PIC that survived the fatal crash with Andrew. I asked him what recommendations he could give me to bring forward at Heli Success? What he told me was "Do not accept any pressure from the orchard owner to get all the trees near any obstacle. Trees can be shook by other means and the orchard owner must know and accept this. Identify your obstacles and the trees that may not be protected. Walk the field and let the owner know. Place your markers, be vigilant and have adequate performance.

 

Have a safe cherry drying season.

 

Sincerely,

 

Mike

FAASTeam representative

IHST Safety committee

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Thoughts on Cherry Drying,

 

In the old days the cherries were dried by the seasoned ag pilots. Incidents were few as the hazards were not that much different than what we faced on a daily basis. Due to the changes in agriculture and global marketing the cherry crop has increased ten fold in the last 20 years. There are not enough seasoned pilots or operators to go around. Flight schools see cherry drying as an opportunity to increase revenue for their equipment and send their low time CFI's and recent graduates to do the job.

 

As a veteran ag pilot with 46 years of ag flying, the main problem is situation awareness as Mike pointed out in the above post. Most of the young pilots I have encountered are good at handling the machine but lack the training and experience to handle a complex environment. Most have not mastered the art of reading the wind , setting up the field to minimize exposure to obstructions

and give little thought to operating in a confined space until they are in it.

 

Today's young people are driven by technology and spend more time with their gadgets than they do making good decisions. Yes, the GPS will get you to the orchard but it will not tell you the the variety that your supposed to be drying. Goggle earth will show you a picture of your orchard but will not tell you that the P.U.D. put in a new wire to the spray shed last week.

 

My advice to flight schools for what its worth. If you are confident enough in your student that he is safe and can pass a check ride make the last 5 or10 hours of his training showing him what he will face in the real world. ie. approaches to confined areas, how to read the wind in a hover,power management at full gross. dead reckoning , and pilotage for when his GPS fails.

 

Did not mean for this to be a rant, but I truly believe that it is up to the industry to better prepare our young people for the tasks they will encounter

 

Sincerly,

One of the old guys

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Great posts, guys. I only have two minor quibbles.

 

Helmets: If you want to wear a helmet, fine. If you don't want to wear a helmet, fine. We're not carrying passengers in an operation like EMS where we need to be worried about birdstrikes incapacitating us out to a point where we crash and take the crew with us. If *you* want to take the risk and not wear a helmet, it's on you. And who cares? It's no big deal; the threat to the public is nil. Nomex flight suit? Nomex gloves? Mormon protective underwear? Fireproof boots? Knock yourself out. Just don't tell me I "should" or "have to" be wearing any of that stuff. If I die in a fiery wreck, the TV and newspaper people will just have to show an earlier picture of me from when I was still young and good-looking. Might have to go back to my 1973 high school yearbook pic, but what the hey.

 

Scouting The Field: Dennis wrote:

 

Scout the fields that you will fly, bad weather days are perfect for this.. get your butt in a car and get out to the the site.. look for wires, towers and other obstacles.

 

Actually...it's the other way 'round. Ironically we would do that on *good*-weather days. On bad-weather days we have to be ready to "pull the trigger" and go. So severe-clear days are when we can go to Walmart...I mean, scout the orchard (if you're not already living in it).

 

And finally, as I've said before, we can be quite sure that Drew knew very well that there was a wire where he tried to put his helicopter. But the pressure to dry the trees close to that wire was obviously intense. So how do we keep people from hitting obstacles they already know are there?

 

Easy, you get a job flying an S-58 where you can go up and park in a 200' hover and VR each tree.

 

Remember, friends don't let friends dry cherries in R-44's.

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So severe-clear days are when we can go to Walmart

 

Remember, friends don't let friends dry cherries in R-44's.

 

 

More like go to Walmart for the second or third time

 

I agree, I would highly suggest against drying cherries in an r22/44/s300. Its nothing to do with the saying "I hate robbies" ect. The fact is you have to be at an altitude to where your down wash will hit the cherries just enough to get the water off without bruising the cherries, so you can imagine your altitude will increase with down wash (R44 = right above the cherries, S-55/58 = 50-75 feet above cherries, 206/500 = somewhere in between). To please you farmer and insure you keep your contract at one point or another you will have to dry cherries that lie under wires, I would rather fly over the wires where the down wash from my 55 will still get the cherries rather than be in a r44 and figure out just how I'm gonna do it without striking a wire (I've heard different methods). All in all with some competence, the right machine, and decent training from a company that has been doing it for a while you can do it safely.

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Not long ago a guy asked me if I wanted to dry cherries with a Hiller. I'm kinda glad he bailed, I really didn't want to deal with,...on the one hand finally having a job, vs. on the other hand, flying "under" the wire environment, not to mention the idea of scud running to get the orchard!

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Pilot#, ideally the helicopter should live in the orchard, whether the pilot does or not. Ideally he does - in a motorhome or camper or something. Otherwise you'll spend a lot of time at the ship, "standing-by" (i.e. sitting in your truck listening to Rush) when there is rain around. If you can't position the ship in the orchard you're assigned to, then hopefully it'll be someplace really close where there's little ferry time. The farmers hate ferry time.

 

Fortunately, there's not a lot of scud-running in the Wenatchee/Chelan/Brewster area. You can usually fly around the rain cells. But when the rain in your orchard begins to taper off, your farmer WILL want you out drying. So you need to be there.

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Get this!

 

This guy who bailed on me about the cherry drying job, just emailed me asking me if I would like to ferry an aircraft up there (so his boss can do the drying job) and he wants me to pay $150/hr for it, plus of course the airfare home! That's right, HE contacted ME to do a job and wants ME to pay to do it! The hook of course is that he says his boss will probably hire me for the nexr contract! <_< Is this sh*t for real!? Did I miss something in what it means to be a commercial pilot?

 

I'm getting pretty f*cking sick of this industry! :angry:

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Get this!

 

This guy who bailed on me about the cherry drying job, just emailed me asking me if I would like to ferry an aircraft up there (so his boss can do the drying job) and he wants me to pay $150/hr for it, plus of course the airfare home! That's right, HE contacted ME to do a job and wants ME to pay to do it! The hook of course is that he says his boss will probably hire me for the nexr contract! <_< Is this sh*t for real!? Did I miss something in what it means to be a commercial pilot?

 

I'm getting pretty f*cking sick of this industry! :angry:

 

 

 

It's a difficult industry to break into sometimes, but its worth it. Just feel them out and unless you're desperate for time, i wouldn't pay for it.

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Let him know you're happy to fly the helicopter up there for him, and you're still interested in a job for the next season, but you can't possibly pay for the ferry flight.. if they are really interested in giving you a job next year, they'll let you do the ferry regardless. If not, they aren't worth your time anyhow.

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Ah yes, the old bait and switch! That's about just as bad as the "Go through our specialized training program and we'll give you a job",...and then the job gets cancelled, scam! I've fallen for that one.

 

Isn't commercial aviation just wonderful!

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Get this!

 

This guy who bailed on me about the cherry drying job, just emailed me asking me if I would like to ferry an aircraft up there (so his boss can do the drying job) and he wants me to pay $150/hr for it, plus of course the airfare home! That's right, HE contacted ME to do a job and wants ME to pay to do it! The hook of course is that he says his boss will probably hire me for the nexr contract! <_< Is this sh*t for real!? Did I miss something in what it means to be a commercial pilot?

 

I'm getting pretty f*cking sick of this industry! :angry:

I've read this a couple of times... but I want to make sure my eyes arent deceiving me..... he called you to ferry their helicopter, and then said if you accept, YOU have to pay $150 p/h to take them THEIR helicopter?

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Ah yes, the old bait and switch! That's about just as bad as the "Go through our specialized training program and we'll give you a job",...and then the job gets cancelled, scam! I've fallen for that one.

 

Isn't commercial aviation just wonderful!

There sure are a lot of suckers out there. If not, this would be a very different industry. There are sheisters in every industry that will prey on the gullible. Aviation is uniquely suited to this because there is a far higher number of people interested in getting into it than it can possibly support. This we know. It's been beaten to death. It takes a lot of hard work, smart decisions, and being able to see who to stay away from. I've met some real winners, believe me, especially in the early flying days. But this is not just in aviation, this is Life. Before I started flying, I tried to get into home inspection. Got "hired" by a contractor who was going to pay me as an apprentice. We used my truck to get to jobs, I paid for gas and was supposed to be reimbursed on my next paycheck, which never came. After two weeks of crawling under houses with a flashlight, springing for fast food at lunch, chauffeuring my "boss" around and generally being taken advantage of, and I was supposed to get paid, the guy flaked and skipped town on me. I was fresh out of high school and didn't know the first thing about being on my own. That was my first real lesson in how NOT to get scammed. As time wears on, my BS detector gets more and more sensitive. It's helped me stay away from some tempting, but suspicious, opportunities over the years that I am glad I avoided. Also, I was lucky enough to get a job flight instructing at a busy school. Those that don't get that opportunity are targets for this type of crap in this industry.

 

Just keep in mind, this is not just the helicopter industry. Every college out there sells degrees and the hope of a bright future with a good paying job in a rewarding career. How many college graduates out there are still working minimum wage jobs? A lot. And more every year. I know a guy who has a BS in engineering and is a shift manager at McDonalds. Know another guy who is an architect and works at Lowes on the loading dock driving a forklift. These are both smart, hard working, educated guys. But they got a highly specialized education and there is no market for their skills. I make more than most of my close friends from high school. They all went to college and got varying degrees from BS all the way up to a Doctorate. One of my friends went to law school and is a member of the Bar in Arizona. He's currently collecting unemployment. Two of my friends (married) spent 6 years each in college and now are both professors. Their combined income barely pays their rent and they have been driving the same beat up cars since high school (actually I think they recently upgraded, but they had those cars for a LONG TIME!) I did some JC but never graduated with a degree. I like to hold that over their heads as much as possible, naturally. My point? Success is NEVER a guarantee. Not in aviation, or in anything else either. There are a lot of whiners out there complaining about how they got duped into this. But how many times have we seen some newbie on here asking questions, and they don't like the advice they got so they ignore it? If the shoe fits, wear it.

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Can we get back on topic here? This thread could provide a lot of good information to people. I personally know someone flying cherries this year and if I could point him to this thread for some solid advice, I'm sure he would appreciate it, as would I.

 

What are a few other tried and true methods for marking the field? If putting markings on top of trees, how do you normally fasten them? How far away from an obstacle should one stay? The Little Book of Autorotations warns heavily about holding high hovers. Any specific tips or advice for the pilot above the trees?

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I've read this a couple of times... but I want to make sure my eyes arent deceiving me..... he called you to ferry their helicopter, and then said if you accept, YOU have to pay $150 p/h to take them THEIR helicopter?

 

Correct.

 

Sorry for spoiling your thread Ridethisbike, but the title just said "Cherry Drying Season", so I figured it was open to any discusion about this years season. If it had been titled "Cherry Drying Safety", I would have started my own thread to whine about my job woes.

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Can we get back on topic here? This thread could provide a lot of good information to people. I personally know someone flying cherries this year and if I could point him to this thread for some solid advice, I'm sure he would appreciate it, as would I.

 

What are a few other tried and true methods for marking the field? If putting markings on top of trees, how do you normally fasten them? How far away from an obstacle should one stay? The Little Book of Autorotations warns heavily about holding high hovers. Any specific tips or advice for the pilot above the trees?

Maintain good pedal control. It gets kinda windy out there. Be alert. If you have to auto, you're screwed. If you hit something, you're screwed. You're best bet is to not have to auto and not hit anything. It's just one of those jobs where you are in a dangerous environment and there is little room for error. Unless you are cruising around at 100 feet in your S-55.... My best advice is to do a good preflight, know your field, and stay alert. If you are flying something small like an S-300, 10 feet above the tops of the trees does a pretty good job. Maintain a walking pace. Tell your farmer ahead of time that you will NOT be able to dry within at least 20 feet of any wires or be able to do any drying at dusk/dawn and that they will have to find another way to dry them. They can usually do this with the fungicide sprayers they use, the only reason they use us at all is because we can dry the field faster than they can. Leave the touch ups to them and stay away from any hazards.

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Set up your flight pattern so that you are always turning into the wind. Monitor your power settings , this will help you determine if you are down wind. Even a slight wind at your tail can lead to settling with power if you are up against obstructions or have no room to fly out of it.

 

As mentioned above a good preflight will save your butt. If the forecast is for rain do your preflight before you are called out. You will be under a lot of pressure to get in the air as soon as possible after a rain and you will be distracted with phone calls , instructions from growers, etc.

 

I can't stress enough how important it is to know your fields. Don't be afraid to ask questions before you are called out. If you have any doubts ask the grower or the person in charge. Getting lost, forgetting a field or doing the wrong field will likely end with you getting an ass chewing . Best to avoid that situation by asking a few questions beforehand.

 

Keep radio chatter to a minimum . When you are in a tight spot it is a distraction. The radios are there to help you get the job done properly, not to BS with your buddies. Most cherry growers monitor the intercom frequencies and I have been asked on several occasions to replace pilots that chit-chat constantly. Plenty of time to BS after the job is done.

 

If you have to auto in, get it between the rows and to a dead stop, no forward airspeed. Pull pitch before the blades hit the trees. The machine will be toast but you will survive the fall.

For a lot of the young pilots Cherry drying is their first commercial job. Please realize that it is not a game but very serious work. Pay attention, seek advice from the more experienced guys and fly safe.

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Maintain good pedal control. It gets kinda windy out there. Be alert. If you have to auto, you're screwed. If you hit something, you're screwed. You're best bet is to not have to auto and not hit anything. It's just one of those jobs where you are in a dangerous environment and there is little room for error. Unless you are cruising around at 100 feet in your S-55.... My best advice is to do a good preflight, know your field, and stay alert. If you are flying something small like an S-300, 10 feet above the tops of the trees does a pretty good job. Maintain a walking pace. Tell your farmer ahead of time that you will NOT be able to dry within at least 20 feet of any wires or be able to do any drying at dusk/dawn and that they will have to find another way to dry them. They can usually do this with the fungicide sprayers they use, the only reason they use us at all is because we can dry the field faster than they can. Leave the touch ups to them and stay away from any hazards.

 

Nightsta1ker!! Thanks for chiming in! Do you say not to dry during dawn/dusk because of the lack of wire visibility? Wouldn't the tapering rain play a factor on that end as well? Does that walking pace change with being 10' up compared to 50-100' up? My buddy is flying either an s58 or s55. I thought he said 58, but I could be wrong. It seems he got lucky with that, either way. Of course the best bet is to not HAVE to auto, but that's not always up to us now is it? haha

 

 

Set up your flight pattern so that you are always turning into the wind. Monitor your power settings , this will help you determine if you are down wind. Even a slight wind at your tail can lead to settling with power if you are up against obstructions or have no room to fly out of it.

 

Not quite sure I follow with setting it up so I always turn into the wind. Do you mean to make a bunch of U turns or to make a spiraling type pattern?

 

As mentioned above a good preflight will save your butt. If the forecast is for rain do your preflight before you are called out. You will be under a lot of pressure to get in the air as soon as possible after a rain and you will be distracted with phone calls , instructions from growers, etc.

 

Good preflight early in the day before it rains. Got it.

 

I can't stress enough how important it is to know your fields. Don't be afraid to ask questions before you are called out. If you have any doubts ask the grower or the person in charge. Getting lost, forgetting a field or doing the wrong field will likely end with you getting an ass chewing . Best to avoid that situation by asking a few questions beforehand.

 

What are some of the more common questions you would ask? Other than how to get there and identify the field...

 

Keep radio chatter to a minimum . When you are in a tight spot it is a distraction. The radios are there to help you get the job done properly, not to BS with your buddies. Most cherry growers monitor the intercom frequencies and I have been asked on several occasions to replace pilots that chit-chat constantly. Plenty of time to BS after the job is done.

 

If you have to auto in, get it between the rows and to a dead stop, no forward airspeed. Pull pitch before the blades hit the trees. The machine will be toast but you will survive the fall.

For a lot of the young pilots Cherry drying is their first commercial job. Please realize that it is not a game but very serious work. Pay attention, seek advice from the more experienced guys and fly safe.

 

I've heard the 55/58 should be anywhere from 50-100' above the trees. Does that birds' rotors have THAT much inertia that I'd even still have anything left to pull before I hit the ground? Or is that a situation where I lower the collective first and then raise it at the bottom?

 

Should a pilot flying the 55/58 still mark hazards with high viz tape/streamers?

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Nightsta1ker!! Thanks for chiming in! Do you say not to dry during dawn/dusk because of the lack of wire visibility? Wouldn't the tapering rain play a factor on that end as well? Does that walking pace change with being 10' up compared to 50-100' up? My buddy is flying either an s58 or s55. I thought he said 58, but I could be wrong. It seems he got lucky with that, either way. Of course the best bet is to not HAVE to auto, but that's not always up to us now is it? haha

 

 

Yes, you want to avoid low viz, low light situations like the plague. The wires just vanish. I had to do some drying early morning on a drizzly day. I knew my field well, and had the poles in sight, but when you are in between poles, judging distance from wires can be tough, and with the rain on the bubble, and the low light, the wires would disappear, then reappear randomly. It was very hard to keep tabs on them, so I just avoided them altogether. I told my grower what the deal was and he understood. Most of them would rather lose some cherries than have a helicopter down in their field and possibly an injured or dead pilot on their hands. That situation is not good for anyone. Just make sure you are not promising the world to the growers. Tell them straight what the rules are and what your personal minimums are and most of them will appreciate that.

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Set up your flight pattern so that you are always turning into the wind. Monitor your power settings , this will help you determine if you are down wind. Even a slight wind at your tail can lead to settling with power if you are up against obstructions or have no room to fly out of it.

 

As mentioned above a good preflight will save your butt. If the forecast is for rain do your preflight before you are called out. You will be under a lot of pressure to get in the air as soon as possible after a rain and you will be distracted with phone calls , instructions from growers, etc.

 

I can't stress enough how important it is to know your fields. Don't be afraid to ask questions before you are called out. If you have any doubts ask the grower or the person in charge. Getting lost, forgetting a field or doing the wrong field will likely end with you getting an ass chewing . Best to avoid that situation by asking a few questions beforehand.

 

Keep radio chatter to a minimum . When you are in a tight spot it is a distraction. The radios are there to help you get the job done properly, not to BS with your buddies. Most cherry growers monitor the intercom frequencies and I have been asked on several occasions to replace pilots that chit-chat constantly. Plenty of time to BS after the job is done.

 

If you have to auto in, get it between the rows and to a dead stop, no forward airspeed. Pull pitch before the blades hit the trees. The machine will be toast but you will survive the fall.

For a lot of the young pilots Cherry drying is their first commercial job. Please realize that it is not a game but very serious work. Pay attention, seek advice from the more experienced guys and fly safe.

I agree with 100% of this, but I would like to add that I found myself in several situations , due to obstacles, wind, and aircraft limitations, that I could not keep the wind to my front. You just have to work the problem out in your head and come up with a solution that works. Of course, you NEVER want to do an approach with a tail wind, but simply going up and down the rows, sometimes its just not possible to keep the wind to your front. Stay light on those pedals.

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ridethisbike, you may be under some misconceptions about this job. The key is in knowing your field. YOUR field. It's not like you'll be tasked with drying an assortment of random fields and you never know which one in advance. You'll most likely be assigned to *one* field. Maybe two if they're really small. In any case, the growers will provide you with diagrams (sometimes hand-drawn) of their orchard(s). You can add notes to these.

 

You do not need to mark wires and/or obstructions. Simply KNOW where they are. The powerlines and wind machines don't change locations! If you are so forgetful that you cannot keep track of the hazards to flight in *one* cherry orchard, perhaps you should take up another field of endeavor. KNOW where the obstructions are...and then don't hit them. It ain't rocket surgery.

 

Oh, and there is no requirement to keep the helicopter moving. You're not going anywhere. You're just hovering slowly along. You can run any kind of pattern in the field you want, as long as you "get" all the trees. Zig-zag, circular...your choice. (Be predictable though so the farmer, who WILL be following you in his pickup truck, can assess your job.)

 

If you have to come to a complete stop and inch up to some trees near a powerline, so be it. If you have to stop and creep around a wind machine to get the trees below it, fine. Just take your time. It's not a race. The farmer would rather you do a good job than a fast, poor job.

 

We typically do not dry in very bad weather - although sometimes the conditions are not ideal. It is wrong to think (as someone on a helicopter pilot Facebook page seems to) that most of the time we dry at night in post-squall conditions that would challenge the U.S. Coast Guard. It's not that way. Most rainy days are fairly calm and dreary. Violent thunderstorms are infrequent. Even so, the wind calms down "fairly" quickly afterward.

 

Sometimes we'll dry all day long in a constant drizzle. Other times an isolated rainstorm can blow through your orchard leaving some gusty weather in its wake. But you know what? STAND DOWN! If it's too windy, grow a set and tell your foreman/farmer/whatever that it's too dangerous at the moment. He'll understand. He doesn't want a crashed helicopter in his orchard any more than you do. (But be ready to pull the trigger as soon as the wind lays down to your comfort level. Don't skip off to Walmart or that park on Lake Chelan under the assumption that the wind will last all day.)

 

On the other hand, if you cannot control a hovering helicopter in gusty conditions, perhaps this is another sign that you chose the wrong career path.

 

Sometimes they'll want us to go up right at sunrise if it rained overnight. This is tough if you like to stay out drinking all night like I do. Many a dark, dark morning, after two hours of quality "sleep" I've awoken in my camper to the incessant yelling and pounding on the door by our foreman, Joel, who usually says to me, "Bob, you really ought to wear boxers to bed. Or at least something. PUT A ROBE ON, DAMMIT! But come on, we need to fly." And then I'll stumble out to the ship in nothing but a pair of boots with one eye open and my trusty big bottle of Extra-Strength Excedrin in hand, hoping I remember how to start the damn thing and trying to remember which sections Joel told us to hit first. Not a pretty mental image, I know.

 

And if it's still raining at sunrise, you know that it's not going to get *much* brighter and you're going to earn that lousy money they're paying you (or not paying you as the case may be).

 

Sometimes we'll dry right until dark or possibly later. Meh. You're a Professional pilot, not a Private. DO YOUR JOB. And your JOB #1 is to not crash the helicopter. But me no like flying in the dark. I think the only gauge that was lit up in my ship last year was...not the tach, which would have been nice, but the VOR head...which was ironic because I didn't even have a VOR receiver! So why...ehhh, I just shook my head and tried not to think about it.

 

You do not have to hover straight ahead. You can hover sideways. You can hover backwards. Get rid of the notion that it matters which way the nose is pointed in an OGE hover. If you can't see out front, hover sideways. If the side windows are obscured, take the door off. If you have to land for a moment to remove a door, do it. If you have to "take it around the pattern" to get the moisture off the windscreen, do it. But know that as soon as you come back down into the field, your rotorwash will blow up more moisture onto the bubble if the trees are wet (which they are or you wouldn't be there). Just take the damn door off and wear a sweatshirt.

 

Finally, a note about hovering in the shaded area of the H-V chart: If you think this is dangerous! then don't do this job. Go find something else to do with your life. Remember that engine failure is *not* the most common cause of helicopter crashes. Engine failures happen so rarely nowadays that you simply should not spend a whole lot of time and mental energy fretting and worrying about them.

 

But do consider this: Let's say you're in an R-44. What do those things weigh empty, 1500 pounds? Add you (180#) and a full bag of fuel (340#) and you're at 2020 against a MGW of 2500. This puts you at 80% of max gross. So you're not up there trying to hover OGE at MGW, EIEIO. And the situation only gets better when you start burning fuel. However, having a "copilot" makes things worse. How close to the "edge" do you want to be?

 

But *if* the unthinkable happens, you are most likely GOING to ruin the helicopter. The operators know this. That's what they have insurance for. What YOU have to worry about is surviving the fall. As "dragbrace" notes above: LAND BETWEEN THE ROWS. Cherry trees are not that tall, by the way. They're not redwoods.

 

Ed. Note: I'm sorry this post is so long. When I started it, it was only THREE paragraphs, I swear. But then I kept adding and adding crap and thinking of funny lines to throw in and pretty soon...well...you're here. Hope you got your money's worth ;)

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Guest pokey

 

You do not need to mark wires and/or obstructions. Simply KNOW where they are.

 

Anything that you can do to raise your awarness is not wasted effort. I have never done cherry drying, but have done my share or low level flying in both airplanes and helicopters, & have come very close to hitting wires and a boat mooring cable in both,, and i DID know they were there ! Complacent?, having too much fun?,,, dunno the answer. I do know that quite a few pilots that hit wires, KNEW they were there.

 

take every advantage that you can and be careful & always pay attention

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This, is why i love this forum. Thanks for all the good info folks, i hope you keep it coming and share it with those flying this year.

 

I also hope someone out there is motivated to hold a safety meeting where you can talk about this with everyone, it never hurts to stop and learn.

 

The wires are f*cking insidious.. especially in weather. You can see them one second and look back and they will be gone. As are the towers, not sure about orchards but they are all over Colorado and Wyoming. They put some up seemingly over night, especially the ones to test the wind, and they aren't high enough for lights.. you can never get complacent about obstacles.. you must have mental stamina.

 

dp

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I had a ship down in the Valley (California) a few years ago drying and the farmer wanted us to dry at night and also in the rain...lol go figure that one out!

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