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Near miss


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"Hampton traffic, Helicopter XXX, 3 miles east of the field at 1,000', south west bound, hampton."

 

"Hampton Traffic, skyhawk XXX, on a 45 for a southbound landing"

 

 

My thoughts...

 

Hampton... ok.. where is this guy.... Looking... Southbound landing... Ok, he's landing on 20, which means there's two places he could really be. Only one of them I'm worried about. Where is this guy?... Scanning...

 

What's his distance and altitude? We're close to the airfield so he's probably at pattern altitude (which happens to be 1,000 ish ft)... Looking....

 

HOLY CRAP WE'RE ON A COLLISION COURSE!!! That guy probably doesn't see me!!!

 

He was to my left (farther from the field than I was). Same altitude. Converging. Maybe a quarter to half mile away from eachother (at the absolute max), converging at a 120° angle.

 

At this point, right of way rules don't matter. He doesn't see me, but I see him. Bury the collective and bank left to pass under and to the right of him and make a radio call to let him know I see him.

 

 

 

I fly in an area with a lot of sightseeing traffic (and it's not even THAT busy when compared to other areas). Half of them don't have radios, so my head is always on a swivel. This was a guy who was talking, and if he hadn't, I'm not sure that I would have seen him, even though I'm ALWAYS looking for other traffic. The human eye and brain have flaws. This was the closest I've ever been to another aircraft, and I pray that's the closest I EVER get to another aircraft in an unintentional manner.

 

Keep your head on a swivel guys. Don't get complacent. The second you think it can't happen to you, it will.

 

 

Edit: Also, I ended up about 100' away from a remote controlled airplane, today on a previous flight, at about 600'. The threat is real. KEEP YOUR EYES OPEN AND YOUR HEAD ON A SWIVEL.

Edited by ridethisbike
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Welcome to the club. :D

 

Oh I know I'm not the first. I certainly won't be the last. However, if I can put my experience out there and save even ONE pilot's life, I consider it a success. "Big sky, little airplane (or helicopter)" only works so often. The odds might be against a mid-air, but they still happen... and far too often.

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I dont want to sound adversarial, so please take my comments as just a different point of view.

 

A) you say it was his fault for not making real position reports. I couldn't tell from your story, but was he on the 45 for 20? How far off was he?

 

B ) if you had so many questions about distance and altitude, why not ask for clarification? I fly at untowered airports too and i ask for more info, if needed. Whats your psotion now? Alititude? Airspeed? Hey, i'll do a 360 until you are on downwind/base/final. Etc.

 

C) im not sure if you were transitioning the airport or landing, but either way, why do it at pattern alitude of airplanes? I got my fixed wing rating first and i was never told to avoid the flow of rotorcraft, but when i got my rotorcraft add on, i was soecifically told to avoid fixed wing flow. Why not fly at +\- 500 ft of pattern altitude?

Edited by Curyfury
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Did you make any real position reports? If so, you didn't mention it.

 

I've come very close, many times. One I vividly remember was in the Gulf of Mexico, flying westbound on a hazy, sunny day, like most of them are. I caught just a very quick flash of light ahead, and started looking very closely, because I thought someone might be out there, and the flash could have come from his windows. Or it could have come from a boat, or lots of other things, but I started looking as closely as I could. A little later a white helicopter, just like I was flying, appeared a few hundred feet ahead, at my altitude, head-on approach. We both saw each other about the same time, and banked sharply left, and he passed on my right, and we recognized each other. I said "Bert, is that you?", and it was. No position reports, just flying across the Gulf, and if I hadn't caught that flash of light, it could have been my last flight. I think it should be illegal to fly helicopters painted white out there, it's almost impossible to see them, either in the air or in the water. They blend in with the whitecaps when they go down.

 

The Gulf of Mexico is big, but there have been many mid-air collisions out there over the years. I lost a couple of friends that way. Technology has come a long way, and it's now possible to install TCAS in a small helicopter, for a somewhat reasonable cost. Once we got them in our helicopters offshore, we were amazed by the amount of traffic that showed up, and we couldn't see with our eyes. They're worth the money, moreso than almost any other addition you can buy.

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I dont want to sound adversarial, so please take my comments as just a different point of view.

 

A) you say it was his fault for not making real position reports. I couldn't tell from your story, but was he on the 45 for 20? How far off was he?

 

B ) if you had so many questions about distance and altitude, why not ask for clarification? I fly at untowered airports too and i ask for more info, if needed. Whats your psotion now? Alititude? Airspeed? Hey, i'll do a 360 until you are on downwind/base/final. Etc.

 

C) im not sure if you were transitioning the airport or landing, but either way, why do it at pattern alitude of airplanes? I got my fixed wing rating first and i was never told to avoid the flow of rotorcraft, but when i got my rotorcraft add on, i was soecifically told to avoid fixed wing flow. Why not fly at +\- 500 ft of pattern altitude?

 

A) He was probably 4 miles away when he made his call.

 

B) Truth be told, it just didn't occur to me at that particular moment. I could have, and I'm sure he would have given the requested information. I've made such requests before.

 

C) I was transitioning along our tour route. We fly the tours at 1,000'. Any higher and the view isn't as great. Any lower and we're flirting with banner towers, kites, and para-sailors.

 

Did you make any real position reports? If so, you didn't mention it.

 

 

That first line was my position report.

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Technology has come a long way, and it's now possible to install TCAS in a small helicopter, for a somewhat reasonable cost.

 

Alternatively you can spend much less even and get a PowerFlarm installed (or even put a portable one on your glare shield). Everything with a transponder will light up on the display.

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Lots of drama in the original post. Melodrama. Get over it.

 

See and avoid. It's not just a nice concept. It's the law.

 

You saw, you avoided. Done.

 

Now do it every second of every flight, just as you're required to do.

 

The other pilot reported his position. You reported yours. Whether anyone reports or not is irrelevant; it's not "hear and avoid." The rule is see and avoid. Do that.

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I would say the point would be to start thinking about doing something different well before you have to scare the hell out of everybody. The Cessna would probably only be one place: 1,000' on the east side of the airport. Why not avoid this area? Sure, you have to always be looking, but you could save yourself a lot of problems by simply avoiding areas (an airport) with lots of traffic that is climbing, descending and turning. I would say the OP forgot lesson one of helicopters and airports: avoid the flow of fixed wing traffic. You always have pilots that just fly long finals, too. I'd stay out of there or climb another 500'.

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The point? See and avoid. Easily covered without all the pithy melodrama. Bury the collective! I pray that's the closest! The threat is real.

 

You should write a book.

 

For someone who claims to dislike drama so much, you really do a great job of trying to create it.

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I would say the point would be to start thinking about doing something different well before you have to scare the hell out of everybody. The Cessna would probably only be one place: 1,000' on the east side of the airport. Why not avoid this area? Sure, you have to always be looking, but you could save yourself a lot of problems by simply avoiding areas (an airport) with lots of traffic that is climbing, descending and turning. I would say the OP forgot lesson one of helicopters and airports: avoid the flow of fixed wing traffic. You always have pilots that just fly long finals, too. I'd stay out of there or climb another 500'.

 

Right... and if I could avoid that area and still keep my job, I would. I didn't forget about avoidance procedures.

 

All I was trying to convey is that you can't get complacent. Gomer shared his story about having a near miss with another helicopter illustrating it's not always about fixed wing traffic. If you have the freedom to avoid areas you don't want to be, great. But that doesn't mean there won't be someone along your preferred route that you'll need to be looking for.

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Not to vary much from the OP intent, we used to teach to be extra alert when converging onto a VOR due to increased FW traffic flying from VOR to VOR. Now everyone asks what the hell a VOR is cause we all fly a pink line......and so do a lot of FW.

 

The other day I was on that pink line from VNY to CMA and met an old warbird at 500 AGL head on. It was rising terrain for him and just moving into a non populated area so I doubt he felt any pressure to climb higher when it's such a short trip with these pesky little mountains in between.

 

I would love to have TCAS but I've only flown one bird that had it, and while it showed a lot of aircraft I would not have seen, I know there are also cases where it might miss traffic, so eyes outside scanning is always best.

 

Flying single pilot tours is challenging because you have to scan, look at what you are talking to guests about and communicate with others in the sky plus multiple ATC. It takes work and focus to do it well.

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Hey, I'll weigh-in here.

 

First question I would ask is: What were you doing flying that close to an airport at 1,000 feet? Were you on a cross-country and just transiting through? Or maybe a local sightseeing flight of your own?

 

In any event, I think it's "kinda dumb" to be that close to an airport at 1,000'. That's where the aeroplanes fly. You might run into Avbug doing traffic patterns in his 747!

 

I'm just sayin'... Personally, I give airports more room...either laterally or vertically.

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You might run into Avbug doing traffic patterns in his 747!

 

 

Patterns aren't flown in the 747, except for circling approaches, or an approach to a visual downwind or base, except in the simulator.

 

The pattern minimum altitude in the 747 would be 1,500 AGL, as you're probably aware. It's a turbine powered airplane, after all.

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It's not your father's 172 pattern.

 

Nearly all "patterns" are straight in off an approach; occasionally a circling approach is performed, generally only when visual, not at night, and not unless necessary.

 

Flight school may not be a bad choice for you, however, as your descriptions of see and avoid sound very much like the views of a new student.

Edited by avbug
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You were out at the Hamptons doing tours at 1000 ft is that my understanding? At first reading I thought you were both landing but in a later post you said it was a tour route? I wasn't aware that there were helicopter tours out there.

 

Helicopters going in and out of the Hamptons are typically at 2500 ft or higher for this exact purpose and for noise and they have very strict approach and departure procedures to prevent this type of thing. Might need to adjust your altitude for safety, I know the tour won't be as good, but a bad tour is better than a midair collision.

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It's not your father's 172 pattern.

 

Nearly all "patterns" are straight in off an approach; occasionally a circling approach is performed, generally only when visual, not at night, and not unless necessary.

 

Flight school may not be a bad choice for you, however, as your descriptions of see and avoid sound very much like the views of a new student.

You've got you're people mixed up. You don't know who you're replying to anymore.

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I know exactly who I'm replying to. Read.

 

You might run into Avbug doing traffic patterns in his 747!

 

 

 

Patterns aren't flown in the 747, except for circling approaches, or an approach to a visual downwind or base, except in the simulator.

 

 

Downwind and base aren't the pattern? Dang, I need to go back to flight school.

 

It's not your father's 172 pattern.

 

 

You've got you're people mixed up. You don't know who you're replying to anymore.

 

Seems clear, doesn't it?

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