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Guest rookie101
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Guest rookie101

I was reading an article about a helicopter crash (possible wire strike) and the pilot was 72 years old!!! 72! Now, the oldest pilot I know/met is a fella out at the airport who flies an A-109a EMS helicopter (very nice looking helicopter :D ) Now my question is how is it that this guy can fly helicopters at 72 or the chap who flies the EMS helo or how any pilot can fly when there 55+. Is it a matter of being in-shape, not smoking, ya know just doing healthy things or is it just the luck of the draw i.e. their body can just take abuse and they can still keep on flying or a healthy family history, no strokes or cases of cancer something along those lines.

 

article on crash, thoughts and prayers go out to the families and those who were injured- http://www.kwwl.com/Global/story.asp?S=5101714

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For what it's worth, I think the mind has a lot to do with how well the body ages. As pilots, rotary especially, you need that sharp mind to survive to retirement. These guys may be physically old, but show me one who doesn't have the mind of a man 1/4 his age (I mean wit, humor and love of life). They never stop, and their body just seems to follow suit!

 

Take my instructor for example. He's gotta be in his early 60's, but doesn't look a day over 50. I could always tell he'd arrived at the school by the sound of him whistling and bounding up the stairs 2 at a time! Everywhere the guy goes he's damn near running haha. Meanwhile my dad can't back his car out the driveway without hitting a parked car. Really.

 

Now the gent flying EMS in Ontario who's about 80 years old... that defies imagination! He must have some damn good stories.

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It can be necessity. See this accident. Only necessity could possibly put me in that situation. He was the owner, and apparently couldn't get any of his pilots to fly a Robinson across the dark Gulf of Mexico at 3AM on a moonless night. The same company had lost a 206 in similar circumstances a year or so earlier, and that one was never found. I pray I'm not still flying out there when I'm in my 70s, but without a retirement plan, it might come to that. It seems romantic to abandon your job and spend everything to get a pilot's license and fly for nothing when you're very young, but it's another story when you're staring 60 in the face and still have no money. And if you're a helicopter pilot, you can be sure of having no money, and no retirement plan.

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Guest rookie101
Good grief you must be very young if you think people should quit working at 55. My director of Ops is 85 and still works 5 1/2 days a week, still flys very well, and has more knowledge on helicopters than all of us posting here.

 

Yes I am still young (18), but I threw 55 out there as a reference

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Gomer- so the guy lost his life because he couldnt wait 2 hours for the moon to rise?? unbelievable.

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There is no guarantee moonrise would help. Sunrise was only a few hours away, though.

 

In the GoM, drilling rigs can cost many hundreds of thousands of dollars per day, and they run 24/7/365. When one breaks, the oil company wants it fixed NOW, regardless of the cost. I've spent many hours flying across the GoM in the dark, but not in a Robbie. In an IFR medium twin, with an IFR crew, it's not bad, but single-pilot in a Robbie, with no visual reference at all, it's deadly. In fact, there have been a few S76s flown into the water out there in the dark over the years. The last one was a couple of years ago, with an IFR crew and a load of pax going to a drill ship. Everybody on board died. If these are crashing, then nobody has any business out there alone in the dark, regardless of age. But people do stupid things for money.

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Gomer- In no way do I want to demean these two pilots. Both of which seem very experienced ( however not many night hours??). I also am not instrument rated, nor do I fly instrument aircraft, but I have always thought the one thing you could count on flying over sea, was keeping a safe altitude. When flying around LA at night, we have a lot of dark mountains, and of course you need to always know where you are, and subtract the terrain below you from your altimeter to maintain a safe altitude. I just always figure when your at sea level, its easier to maintain a safe altitude. I can definitely see how dark and easily disorienting these kinds of flight could be..and I could see losing the attitude of the ship and crashing...but to seemingly just fly it down to zero altitude..is that a real possibility ? Just inattention to the altimeter?? Would love to hear your comments..

 

Maybe someday I'll have to make one of these flights.

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  • 2 weeks later...
...but to seemingly just fly it down to zero altitude..is that a real possibility ?

 

Try it on a sunny, overcast, or flat light conditions over glassy water. More than one has flown into the water.

 

Just when you get to the point of thinking it can't happen, be very careful...

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I worked for a 72 year old man, 1983-1984, and he'd still be going strong, long after everybody else went home. His great failing was that he never understood why his employees wouldn't rather be at work...

Anyhow, he flew for another 10 or 15 years after that. He wasn't the smoothest stick I ever worked with, and he didn't grease many landings- but I suspect he never did, even 50 years before, it wasn't his style- but he could FLY, in every sense of the word. He also knew aviation up and down, front and back, inside and out, side to side, as a mech, a pilot, a business man, and good hearted, charitable soul.

Age brings issues, but an old fool is just a fool who's survived to get old- he's not a fool because he's old. On the other hand, if you know how to get experience without trading time for it... Make a fatal mistake at any age, and you're just as dead- at any age.

 

To continue the digression: Flying over water presents unique challenges that have to be experienced to be appreciated. Depth perception over water compared to over land, is comparable to measuring time by a calendar versus a chronograph. You can tell if your feet are wet without technological aid at a hover over water, but that's about it. Like any flying in REDUCED VISUAL REFERENCE situations, you'd better have the right equipment and use the correct technique if you're going to survive long term.

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I have a fair amount of night time over water, and to me it's all instrument flying. The particular case cited seems to have been a case of inattention. There was an autopilot installed, but the altitude hold didn't work properly. It's amazing how fast you can lose altitude when you aren't paying attention to the altimeter. And if you can't fly solely by reference to instruments, you'll die rather quickly out there. On a dark night, you can't see anything at all - no horizon, no surface, nothing - it's just like being inside a dark cloud. It requires attention to detail all the time, and any complacency at all can kill you.

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Guest rookie101

Thanks for the opinions/thoughts on how these old farts still fly :D. The first article I posted mentioned that the two people who survived the crash were sent to the hospital. I recently received this article and it states that the pilot seems to be recovering just fine :) . The crash was caused by a wire strike :blink: Everyone fly safe!

 

http://www.kwwl.com/Global/story.asp?S=5182219&nav=2Ifu

(courtesy of verticalmag.com)

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  • 2 weeks later...
I was reading an article about a helicopter crash (possible wire strike) and the pilot was 72 years old!!! 72! Now, the oldest pilot I know/met is a fella out at the airport who flies an A-109a EMS helicopter (very nice looking helicopter :D ) Now my question is how is it that this guy can fly helicopters at 72 or the chap who flies the EMS helo or how any pilot can fly when there 55+. Is it a matter of being in-shape, not smoking, ya know just doing healthy things or is it just the luck of the draw i.e. their body can just take abuse and they can still keep on flying or a healthy family history, no strokes or cases of cancer something along those lines.

 

article on crash, thoughts and prayers go out to the families and those who were injured- http://www.kwwl.com/Global/story.asp?S=5101714

 

Well I am 70, now have 23,000 hours in the logbooks, over 13,000 in crop spraying/dusting and I was doing it just a few weeks ago! I decided to quit and spend more time with my son who was born 10July2006.Yep, he is just a little squirt so far. I'll keep on flying until I decide to quit or bust my physical. I'll continue doing flight instruction with new military officers who have been selected for pilot or NFO slots and they do a 25 hour indoctrination course with me/us. I still do consulting work and advanced instruction for things like utility, aerial application, NOE, etc. I frequently hear the remark that I sure as hell don't look or act like I'm 70. I teach a class in Aikido (thnk Steven Seagal if you don't know what aikido is) 2x a week at the local University and those college kids have no chance against me in their class attacks. So, its a matter of who you think you are and just not getting old! My whole life has been spent on the dicey edge with adrenaline as a pick-me-up. I shake my head to see people half my age and already worn out and quitting. While my reflexes are not those of a young kid, and my body tires quicker, I have the experience to know when to walk and when to run!

ATP ASMELS, CFII/RAM, AIGI

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  • 2 weeks later...

I don't think age is a matter unless you have disabilities becuase of it. In the running races I'm in, some 70-80 year olds run faster than me. They're usually the people who have been running for several years. I think the same could happen with flying.

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