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RPMN: Have you ever had an “Oh, crap!” moment in a helicopter? Can you summarize what happened?


Airplanes have let me down a lot more than helicopters, but there have been a couple in helicopters. Once in a Bell LongRanger, I was taking relatives over to Freeport, Bahamas. I had a new instructor along letting him build time. When we began our descent from 3,000 feet cruise flight over water, the aircraft yawed. I looked at the instructor like Come on man, push the pedal! He gave me a surprised look and he was obviously confused. I came on the controls and discovered quickly that the pedals went stop to stop and were no longer connected to the tail rotor. The run-on landing at the destination was fairly uneventful, so much so that the passengers remarked they would have thought it normal had I not briefed them beforehand. It turned out a bolt had been installed upside down without being safety wired; after eight to 10 hours of flying the nut backed off allowing the bolt to fall out. The only way to have caught it on preflight would have been to un-cowl the helicopter. After taking out my frustration on a nearby tree I called my instructor at Bell Helicopter and thanked him for their excellent training.


RPMN: If you could give only one piece of advice to a new helicopter pilot, what would it be?


Integrity and honesty: have it and insist on it. That is the foundation of our safety and success in this industry. I tell new trainees, if you are working somewhere that reporting a mistake or problem will be detrimental to you, then you probably shouldn’t be working there.


RPMN: What is the greatest challenge for the helicopter industry at this moment in time?


We need an affordable path for training and experience to supply the future needs of the industry.


EDITOR’S NOTE FROM LYN BURKS:


A short story about Dan Crowe, who incidentally gave me my first flying job in 1992. In the mid ‘90s, I was flying a CBS news helicopter for Danny’s company and earning $25 per hour. After a year of hard work and safe flying, I approached Dan and made my case that I would like a raise to $30. His first question to me was, “Do you look at your paychecks?” I remember thinking, that’s a weird response. Being honest, I told him that I don’t open my paychecks, I just deliver them to my wife who pretty much handles the family finances. He just laughed and told me that if I would have actually opened and looked at my paycheck, I would have noticed that he gave me a $5-per-hour raise six months earlier. Thanks Dan!!


Do you know someone who


would be a good subject for Meet a Rotorcraft Pro? Email your suggestion to the editor-in-chief:


lyn.burks@rotorcraftpro.com


rotorcraftpro.com


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