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The idea for this forum was contributed from J.C. He thought maybe the old salts could share their near death experiences flying with the young ones so mistakes are not repeated.

 

I know we've all had those scary moments that we learned from. Let's share them with the rookies.

 

You don't have to use your real name. Guest posts are allowed as long as it is a 'reply' and not a 'new topic'.

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Guest foghover

Several years ago I scared myself while trying to pick up a crew on the other side of a ridge. The weather was crummy and changing a lot. There were two ways to get to the crews: over the ridge (the fast way) or follow the shore to the valley and follow it up to where the crew was. I was flying off a barge and had multiple crews to pick up. I wanted to get everyone back on the ship before the weather really came down and night took over.

 

I picked up a crew and flew them the valley route back to the barge because of the weather but decided to go over the ridge on the next flight to get the rest of the crew. I slowed down as I neared the ridge. I hovered low over a tree on the ridge because the vis started getting pretty bad. There was a little snow but you could still make out rocks and trees.

 

As I slowly hovered through the fog I opened the door and looked out so I could see the ground better. Everything seemed fine because I knew I was only a couple of hundred feet from the other side of the ridge where the crew was at. Then the helicopter felt "funny". The trees looked weird. I happened to glance down at the attitude indicator (this helo was one of the few that had one) and to my horror the attitude indicator was showing me in a very steep bank to the right. I righted the helicopter and realized that I had been hovering down a very steep slope while thinking I was level.

 

I cautiously hovered down the rest of the ridge until the visibility got better. The crew was looking up at me and wondering how I got through. Man was that a stupid thing to do to save just a few minutes of ferrying time!

 

If in doubt always take the safe route no matter how much longer it will take. Saving a few minutes is not worth crashing.

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Guest Dynamic Component

Heres one of mine.

 

Flew in Mozambique for the floods.This specific day we were operating out of a confined area with a "ground co-ordinater" that was supposed to know what to do.After warning him a few times about a loose canvas sheet on the ground we were on our way back into the confined area from dropping off food supplies.At about 70 feet this canvas sheet(still loose) decided to join our main rotor blades for a "spin".We landed that Puma in about 2 seconds flat,cut the fuel and got out to have a word or 2 with the ground co-ordinator and inspect the damage.

 

The canvas had partially disintergrated on impact and missed the tail rotor to our relief.There were a few marks on the

composate blades but nothing too serious.We left there that afternoon not knowing what the next day had in store for us.

 

To our dissapointment we had to go back the next day to take more food to the needy.I say dissapointment because I preffered doing something different everyday.We flew a few loads until we had just enough fuel left for one 2.5 tonn load and then home.On the takeoff at about 40kts-with trees dead ahead-we heard a loud bang.The crew looked at each other and could not at first discover what had made this bang.As I glanced down at the T4 I noticed that it was going off the charts.We only just cleared the trees with about 3 feet and pulled  the faulty engine back to idle.We made a shallow turn back to the confined area as this was the only place to land.As we slowly aproached with a steep decent we saw the fire warning come on.After a tipical assault landing we pulled the fuel shutoff and exited the aircraft as quickly as possible.To our relieve there was no fire,but the FCU had malfunctioned on the left engine which totaly cooked it.

 

We unloaded 2.5 tonns of food and took as much as possible out of the aircraft to fly her back to base on one engine.

 

Many thanx to the other 2 crewmen that were flying with me that day.They kept their cool very well.

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  • 1 month later...

Sorry to see there hasn't been too many confessions here.  I've seen many on other sites. Such as the guy who confessed to not doing a complete  walk around and almost taking off with the blades tied down.  Or the ENG pilot I met who took off with the fuel cap off . I'm too low time to have any horror stories myself but in everything I've done in life, I've always learned from OPM. OTHER PEOPLES MISTAKES. And have been grateful for those who have shared them.  Maybe I'm crazy but I read the NTSB accident reports every day and know that I'll never take off from a field without making sure there are no vines wraped around my skids or if I ever fly a farmer around to spray his field, I'll make sure he knows what it's like to be in a helicopter first. ( that was a good one_)

After the farmer brought the ship down from the trailer after lifting off (by grabing anything to hold on to he could find from fear) and the support crew went running, the pilot had to grab him by the shirt collar to stop him from getting out of the ship  while the blades were still turning...luckily the worst injury was the scrape marks on the farmers neck

J.C.

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  • 2 months later...
  • 3 weeks later...

OK, here's my LATEST one!

 

Flying fire supression this year in a medium, we're IA (initial attack) on the Blue Cut or Lousiana fire in Cahon pass, out of LA.

 

It's just Air Attack and all the local fire birds (helicopter) trying to slow/contain/redirect this running wild-land fire.  It's "high desert", humidity around 8%, temps in the upper90's or low 100's.

 

I've just dropped my helitac crew off on the I-15 (closed) to start mopping up the "A-Z" division split.

 

This fire is jumping hills, running at about 20 mph going up canyon.  Cahon is infamous for wire strikes and fatalities!

 

The fire is starting to jump a road - I've got a full bambi and am just returning from the water point.  Air Attack is asking for anyone who can possible stop or at least delay the fire from gaining a foot hold across the road.

 

Smoke is thick, I can see the three "high tension" lines coming down the valley.  On both sides of the smoke/fire I can see that the power lines are basicly parallel - two lines on the east side and one is on the west side.  In both directions they're "two and one" so, like a dumb sh-t, I "assume" that it's true in the smoke.

 

I turn around and start under the smoke - maybe it was the thickness of the smoke ( vis is much less than 1/8 mile), but I pass over a single line and know that the other "twin" is behind me, I start descending (100' AGL) toward the fire that's just jumped the road.  I can see the flames through the smoke, so I figure I'll be the hero and knock this thing down - at least for a while!

 

I'm concentrating on the fire and where the wind is driving it.  I've got a good line-up and start my dropping run  - when out of no where - I've got TWO POWERLINES starting to come over top of me!

 

I've discovered - "If you pull max power and stand a 212 on her tail" - she'll climb vertically - at least through 700' of smoke!

 

I don't know who was more startled - me or Air Attack.  All of a sudden, I'm in the "clear" and "A/A" is going "Where the HELL did YOU come from!"

 

Somewhere, I buttoned off the water in the bucket.  I don't remember - but I kept the bucket.  I guess the finger that "spasmed" wasn't the belly-hook button.

 

Fires are INTENSE!  The radio traffic itself is incredible.  The adreniline rush is intoxicating. And the urge to "do good" is almost overpowering.

 

It's a "heady" situation - so "beware", "be careful", and for God's sake - don't trust power-lines!

 

cr

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  • 4 months later...
Guest heloboy

hi just a quick one.

 

doing my ppl a number of years ago,  flying an r 22 when the oil pressure light came on.I was in the middle of noware found a nice place to put down all ok.

I checked the oil level that was ok so i used my mobile to call the flying instructor . The flying school was flat out that day and the R22 was booked for a number of hours after me, the instructor asked me about the oil level i told him ok, he said we need it back it should be ok to fly, come back.

I refused, on this he hit the roof called me some names and put the phone down on me.  My mobile rang again it was the instructor he said sorry and pleaded with me to bring it back i said no again this time he told me i would be charged for recovery, at this i lost my temper and told him to stuff it, i walked away and found a road and got a lift home.

It took them two days to find the 22 and i hasten to add i found a better school.

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  • 5 weeks later...

Hopefully Canook Pilot will post his experience with the 212 he was flying when the mast broke and the whole rotor system went awol. I have read some of the info and he is very lucky to be with us today.

 

Heli Ops  :ghostface:

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Canookpilot DOESN'T remember the actual incident - but he has pictures!   And like I posted for the "Heli-Ops" photo - these are NOT things that we want the "general public" to know/see!

 

Let's remember - a "safety briefing" is a study in paronia!  First we tell them what all we can do, how safe we are, and then we show them pictures of what failed!

 

I've "fought" this battle all the way around the world!

 

I'm fighting it right now!  "But we're flying in a "twin'" - well, READ the manual!  It says that single engine performance is based on a  "LEVEL, smoothe"(sp?) ground to do the (crash)landing!

 

Don't know about where you're flying, but with fires, AIN"T none of mine meets that criteria!  Yet, they load me to the max - without listening!  I've survived crashes - all they've done was to hear about them!  THEY didn't know the terror, the helpness, the known "doom" of what they're asking

 

"Well, 'we've' evaluated the risks and have found them to be  acceptable" - to WHOM?  

I'M the FIRST one at the scene of the accident, I'M the ONE responsible - it's the "pilots" decision, after all.  THET make "BAD" calls, and then spend time trying to force them down our throats, and then THEY run away - "It's HIS fault!"

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That last one "posted" early - I wasn't through!

 

It's YOUR life "they're" messing with!  If you don't like it, scream "NO WAY" - and get on with your life!

 

In the more "professional" crews I've worked for, the "heli-tac manager" has a "clue", but he's duty bound to ask - it's up to YOU to say "NO"!

 

I'm NOT really targeting the OAS type people, they have a job to do - just know, it doesn't always mean that it's in YOUR best interest!  YOU'VE got to make the decision!  They'll respect you for it more to have you say "NO" to a questional sortie than for you to do it and get away with it!

 

In the "grunt" level, I've found more "professionalism" than I've seen in the "upper managers" in Boisie.

 

Knowing I'm going to catch "sh*t" for this one!

 

Gentle winds,

cr

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Ok, nothing at all to compare with the previous stories, but mine is important to me.

 

My 1st solo in a 47-G2. I was a 6,000 hr fixed wing Comm. going for my Comm. Helicopter Add On. Well, in my airplane it is very easy, safe & common to LET GO OF THE STICK to say, take a bite of lunch, or a swig of water or just plain scratch one's itchy whatever. Well, without thinking about it, I did just that. I took my hand off of the cyclic for some unimportant reason & all was well for about 1 second. Then the stick fell over to the left, clear over to the stop. My reaction was to instantly jolt the cyclic back to the right, clear over to the other stop. After doing all this, I centered it all up & just let it settle down. Wow. Whew. Hey, dont do that, stupid! Each & every time I climb in, I think about that small but foolish mistake. Fixed wing habits dont belong in a helicopter. My instructor said: "I see you had some turbulance up there" I sure did!!!

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  • 3 weeks later...
Guest Dion

This one isn't mine (kinda glad of that). I'm about to start study for a CPL so I'm obviously reduced to poaching other peoples stories. But...... I got talking to a mate who's currently serving with the AOS crowd here in New Zealand. They had completed some type of training involving a UH-1 and were heading home over the harbour at a fairly low level.

The chopper had a full load of passengers at the back with one in the front plus the pilot. Only the two guys at the front had intercom functions available leaving everyone else "in the dark" about what was going on up-front. Anyway, the officer up front was egging the pilot on to show them what he could do. The pilot relented, got a little altitude and began a hammer head type turn. Everyone in the back thought this was fantastic and cheers and hoots were in oversupply.

The situation up front was a little different as the pilot, having got to the top of the turn was rapidly discovering that Huey's can be a little uncooperative when in attitudes such as that.

The whole machine began to fall towards the sea on its side as the pilot stuggled to get it facing nose down, obviously while wringing everything available from the toasty warm engine. Long story short(er) he pulled that little stunt off and managed to pull out of the dive in the nick of time. Everyone in the back was still blissfully unaware of the seriousness of the events just passed. They got back to base all wondering why the front passenger was a tad on the pale side.

Understandable though when all you can hear is the alarming multitude of 4 letter words being yelled by the pilot and the scream of a overtemping engine.  :P

 

Hmm, I think I'l stick with robbies and 300c's thanks.

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  • 1 month later...
Guest Mast separation AB-205

Here is another story about a mast separation and the pilot and his student(s) survived without a scratch.

 

An American pilot flying for Bristow was attempting to teach an Imperial Iranian Air Force pilot to fly helicopters.  It was a normal flight when the pilot told the student that they would simulate engine failure and try some autorotations.  The pilot chopped the throttle and told the student that the engine had failed.  The student did not respond.  The pilot told the student again that the engine had failed and the student pointed to the dual tach and told the pilot that the engine was still running.  By that time the rotor speed had decayed to a dangerous level.  With that the pilot dropped the nose to pick up some speed and he tried to reengage the engine.  Each time he wrapped on the throttle the engine needle would overspeed the rotor needle.  He tried several times and by now he was committed to a run on landing.  The landing was smooth and the helicopter plowed through soft undulating dirt and came to a stop.  As the rotor wound down the pilot made a call to the base and started to fill out paperwork.

 

The rotor was rotating very slowly by that time when the pilot heard a loud snap and an instant later he heard a loud bang and the helicopter lurched to the left.  An instant later the stabilizer bar came crashing through the right side of the helicopter just behind the pilots’ seat.

 

I participated in the accident review and I asked a lot of people about the maintenance history of the helicopter.  By that time we had inspected the freewheeling unit and it was totally ripped up.  It was distinct evidence of compressor stall but the maintenance records never referred to compressor stall(s) or the resultant inspections.  Bell Helicopter tossed it off as metal fatigue accompanied by poor piloting technique during the landing.  The said the transmission was moved backwards on its’ mounts causing the rotor to strike the pylon and as a result the rotor broke off.  It was impossibility as for this to happen the fuselage had to be deformed in the area of the mounts but there was no evidence of distortion.

 

Bell won out and the accident was blamed on piloting technique.  The pilot left the services of Bristow.  It was about two weeks later when the Bell rep that serviced the Iranian Air Force told me that the helicopter had experience three compressor stalls but it was never reported and the Bell Rep never mentioned it in his reports to the factory.

 

:unclesam:  :kungfu: This is Pierre.  He is French Canadian.

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  • 2 months later...

Just last month I was making my first cross country solo in an Enstrom 280C.I was about 75% through it,I had the field in sight,at 1500'AMSL and just about to enter a left downwind.I just finished making a radio call to the tower informing them of my position,having adjusted my course slightly to avoid a little rain shower,when BAM!!! This vulture comes crashing through my right side windscreen (pass. side),bounces off the passenger seat and ends up at my feet! There's a huge hole in the windscreen,the air rushing thru the hole forced the two doors open and there was paper and feathers flying about.I reduced speed to lessen the wind blast(and noise) and made a somewhat frantic call to the tower.This was my first(and hopefully last) in flight incident and I must admit i panicked a little at first.I realised that there was no damage to the aircraft other than the hole in the plexiglass and I was unhurt except for a little cut from the flying shards.

I then made a startling discovery,the bird was still alive!!! He looked stunned,just sitting there below my legs!Tower had cleared me for approach and I was concerned that if this bird came to his senses and started flapping around I could very well loose control on my approach.So I did the most logical thing at the time,I held the door open and kicked him out!!I then went on to make my approach and probably one of the best landings I've ever done with 35 hours of total flight time under my belt!!!!!

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******Vultures strike again*********

 

Not mine but one of my old instructors working at Ft. Rucker passed this along, happened quite recently.  

 

Needed notes...At Rucker they fly with one IP in the left seat, one student in the right seat, and one student behind the instructor to learn through osmosis.

 

The group in the 206 happened to run upon a Turkey vulture, the vulture impacted the instructor side windscreen and broke through hitting the instructor in his helmet visor which shattered and knocked the IP unconcious.  The instructor then fell over on the students cyclic, and having his hand on the throttle like a good instructor, rolled the throttle off to the idle stop position.  Starting an extremely nose down and right roll the student in the back unbuckled his seat belt and reached forward and pulled the instructor off the cyclic while the other student regained control and made a safe landing.  Damage---IP side windscreen and vulture blood in the cockpit (the vulture actually ripped in half with half stuck in the visor and half under the students pedals)  the IP got away with a broken jaw, broken sinus cavities, and hella amounts of pain.  Dr said helmet visor saved his life.  When the students were interviewed they said they did a complete 360 roll before control was regained but no one knows if this is true.

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  • 2 months later...
Guest Saw Pilot

Not a movie worthy incident, but hopefully a "young aviator"

can learn something from it.

I was spraying a river on the east coast for Blackfly. The application method was spray accross the river being sure to cover one shore line to the other. I had been flying for about six hours that day and was on my last load before returning to the shop. (any guesses about what happened yet?)

At this point I had been spraying for about three years and I knew all there was to know about it, so when I found the next spray site I just set up to spray it. About three quarters across the river, I saw the wire about half a second before it hit the bubble. What really surprised me next was that everything went into slowmotion, and I was able to think of all the scenarios and what would be the best thing to do.

My thoughts were of the wire rapping around the mast (Very

bad thought), so I pushed forward hoping to cut the wire with a M/R blade. (It was too late to do anything, but it was a nice thought) So I set up for a gravell bar that was right in front of me, waiting for the helicopter to come apart somehow. After all the noise of wires in the rotor stopped, and the skids had just touched the ground, I realized that I was still flying, and didn't have any vibrations either!  Being the smart and cautious pilot that I became in the last few seconds, I shut down to look for damage.

Turns out that One blade went over the wire and the next one went under, causing the wire to get wrapped in the strong part of the head which broke it. The marks on the stabilizer bar showed that as the wire separated, one end of it wrapped around the bar a least four times and unwrapped before it actually damaged the bar! After changing shorts, the call to the office for recovery and the aftermath is aother story.

The moral of the story:

  There is a genetic flaw in helicopter pilots that causes them to not be able to learn until they do it too. I had been working with a lot of experienced spray pilots and most of them had hit wires in the past. For some reason I thought it woudn't happen to me.

  I don't want to preach, but the best thing a pilot can do is talk to others share stories and maybe something will sink in.

  However, I still haven't learned, now I work next to the power lines for a living.

  Hope I haven't been too windy.

Thanks for reading.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Not as exciting as others I've heard but here is some I think are worth mentioning. When flying in class G you are not required to make radio calls but it is a great safety practice to do so, But if you make a call you must know where your at. On Sept. 28th 2003 I was with my instructor flying back from Boise Idaho to Caldwell, Idaho, just following I-84 westbound,  I made a radio call I was 5 miles east at 3000 over I-84 when I got close to Nampa I made another call I was 1/2 mile to the north at 3000 west bound for caldwell. I heard an airplane pilot call he was on final for 1 1 Nampa. I looked all over and did not see this pilot. I radioed to him and he stated he was on final at 3000. I looked again and there he was on a 45 to intercep a long final and headed right for me. I lowered the collective pushed over on the cyclic (gently) and got the hell out of there. He never even seen me even after I stated my position and he continued on with his landing. If I was not looking he would have been right on top of me in about 5 seconds. I stayed cool and calm, my instructor was a little shaky though. Another incident happened to me on Jan. 3rd 2004 when coming back from doing radio work solo at Boise. I made my radio call I was 2 miles out on long final for taxiway parallel 30.Looking for traffic, none in the air that I could see, I made a radio call on short final for taxiway parallel 30 moved a little to the right set up my approach a little better and then holy sh*t I had a airplane that just took off from 12 and was making a right turn same altitude as me and headed right for me. I lowered the collective and made a rapid decent. He saw me at the same time and pulled up and to the left. After contacting the pilot of the plane we both made the assumption we had just talked over each other on the radio. I just wanted to say wait a split second before you talk to avoid talking over somebody because if you don't hear them you may not see them either and the consequences can be deadly. Just my two cents worth.  :cheers:  rotorheadsmiley

Fly safe rotorheadsmiley

 

 Steve

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Well, in some other thread I wrote how I went through wires this summer during fire fighting, but today I would like to tell a little story that happened to me yesterday.

We went to a mountain rescue and was landed while waiting for the rescuers and the injured to get to the helicopter. OK. it was windy and when we got to the mountain it got quite bad, but you know.... you always think that you can handle it flying with extrem care. The thing is that all of a sudden the helicopter slided more than 40º heading to the right. Have to say that the surface was not ice or snow, it was dirt and stones all around the cabin, lucky enough that the tail was clear of stones :down:

Learning: Anytime you can have something you didn't count on :(  so think the worst condition and be prepared for it.Buen vuelo

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  • 1 month later...
Flying during a major multi-national exercise in and around Norway.  As required, our crew (pilot[me], flight commander [observer], and observer trainee) obtained the safety brief from the Norwegian Air Force which was essentially to stay away from power lines crossing the fjords and don't overfly mink farms.  We were at the tail end of a search and destroy to find 'enemy' patrol boats hidden in the fjords.  To this point, we were fairly comfy with navigating around and using the updated chart that showed where the evil power lines crossed the water.  My duties were essentially to fly and the observer's were to navigate, communicate, and operate the radar and weapons systems.  Observer trainee had done very well for the entire flight and we confirmed wire crossings as we approached the charted positions every time.  It was dusk and we were just about to wrap it up and go back to the ship, so I turned on the spot and aimed it forward until we cleared the fjords.  Most of the wires crossed very high so it was actually safer to stay low (about 200' or so), but all of the sudden I hear the 'DESCEND!' call, I dump collective and hug the water, and we go under a set of about 3 wires that feeds a little settlement inside one of the fjords.  Most of these lines are big, and even if we'd been equipped with a cutter, I still think we would have been toast.  Norwegians had just lost an F-16/pilot who was flying in the fjords and kissed the wires.  Obviously we were lucky (certainly not smart) and I gained a further respect for power lines.  As I prepare to retire and fly EMS, I'll certainly be needing that respect.
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  • 1 month later...

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