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Helmets And Fixed-wing Pilots?


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As a student getting my commercial license in a helicopter I opted to get a helmet for training. Odds are I'll need one anyways once I find work. Then I saw a student fixed-wing pilot hope into his C150 without a helmet. We've all seen it a billion times without much thought about it. Then this question popped into my head. Why don't the airplane pilots...student, recreational or commercial, wear helmets when they fly?

Now I'm not looking to ruffle the feathers of the fixed wing crowd. Not looking for a helicopter vs airplane argument here. Just curious as to why, in my case at least, I've never seen helmets on any airplane pilots except for the military.

Thanks gang!

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it's an interesting question, ryan... i'll hypothesize (cool word,eh??) a little here... the military guys i used to see wore them in musketeers, you see the jet jocks wear them, but not the twin otter or herc guys... :blink:


for me, it was a matter of $$$... i could afford my david clarks, but didn't go with a helmet 'cos the 152 wasnt' wired for them... could have got an adapter though...


in reality, is a head injury any worse in an R22 than it is in a C152 or a tomahawk?? i think not... guess it all comes down to attitude...


notice the dusters wear 'em too...


anyone else have thoughts on this??

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I too have always been courious why the difference, but I am sure that tradition also has alot to do with it.

I think that alot of the logical reasoning is the type of work that is being done. Helicopters in general are working low to the ground, in enviroments that the risk of somthing occuring that one would require helmet is greater. This argument would make sense until you think about float plane operations or things like moose surveys and forest fires where you are right down in the weeds with the helicopters. I dont know off-hand of any operations (other then military) where fixed wing pilots are wearing helmets. As for the military, I am not sure but I would imagine that for the jet guys it would be pretty tough to strap on a O2 mask to a headset.

Its funny I love my helmet, it is quiet and offers great protection, however when I jump into a fixed wing I put on the david clarks. :wacko:

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I do know of one fellow that used to wear a helmet while he did low-level animal surveys in his Super Cub. I does make sense considering the profile of a typical survey flight.....tight turns at very very low level....and going slow....and thats slow for a Super Cub. Can't say as I blame him, but he was the only one

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The only civilian fixed wing pilot I have ever seen wearing a helmet was an RCMP pilot in a Caravan on floats. He was wearing a dual visor SPH-5.


When I flew fixed wing I only wore my David Clarks, I never even thought of wearing a helmet. But as soon as I started training on helicopters I bought a helmet.


Knowing what I know now in regards to how much quieter a helmet can be over a headset plus the head protection issue. I would probably wear my helmet if I was back flying fixed wing in a bush flying environment.


The helmet would probably look too out of place in the cockpit of a Citation Jet though. :D



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Many helicopter pilots involved in certain types of work (corporate, passenger shuttle, and some offshore-oil) do not wear helmets. Theoretically they are avoiding many of the higher risk elements of "bush/low level" or "height-velocity curve" operations that helicopters are often involved in.

Note that many offshore oil rig passengers wear Survival Suits, but not helmets. I guess it depends on the risks involved with the operation. What do you guys in Halifax/St Johns wear ???


I wore my helmet at the Bell Training Academy in Fort Worth, Texas. That got alot of stares........yet all the instructors wore flame-retardent Nomex flightsuits.

Frankly, if I need to be protected from flame, I think I would like a helmet on at that time too !!!

I really got a feeling that some guys like a flight-suit, (flame-proof or not, and the more zippers the better!!), but didn't like being a sissy by wearing a CRASH helmet. Very strange reasoning!!


Alot of this is image and perceptions........there were very few pilots wearing helmets 15 years ago, and huge debates about it by 10 years ago. Some companies forbade them!! Now, some companies insist on them !! Some passengers, i.e. Rappel spotters and paramedics, now wear them too.


Here's something to discuss......if you have an accident at fixed-wing speeds, will a helmet help you ?? Does an F18 pilot wear a helmet because he might crash doing 600 knots, or because he needs it during his hoped for 'ejection', just before the now pilot-less craft augers into the planet at 600 knots??

Do we wear them in helicopters because there is more chance we may need them than in fixed-wing ops, or is it just that it may provide the valuable difference in protection that might be wasted at high fixed-wing speeds?? On this note, I can see why pilots flying low/slow fixed-wing ops like wildlife patrols wear a helmet.


I also wear a helmet because of it's superior sound protection and greater comfort than a headset, and because I keep banging my big head everytime I go out into, or back in from the long-line bubble !!


A few years ago I had to ride for several hours in the back of a very noisy Twin Otter to an Arctic drill camp for a crew change. Just as the pilot taxied onto the runway for take-off, he turned around to check for cabin security......he did a double-take then just grinned when he saw me wearing my helmet !!!

I would love to put it on while riding as a passenger on Westjet !!

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I allso know the RCMP pilot who wears a helmet when flying the Caravan.He allso wore it when flying the RCMP Goose.I allways wear my helmet when flying helicopters.Never leave home without it.Many years ago when I was flying Super Pussys on the east coast of Canada we were told that we would not be allowed to wear helmets,as they were trying to portray an image.And the argumeant was that it was a safer enviroment than the bush type of flying.That may be the case but when we asked about the Puma that ditched or rather autoed into Gulf at that time we were told NO NO NO.In that accident the Puma autoed into the Gulf at night and all got out except the copilot.He never got out because he was knocked out on the door post and drowned. :stupid: A lot of us made a pact that if anything ever happened to us head injury wise we would sue the Cod Fathers ***. as a group.

Cheers Mini..........

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  • 3 months later...

Recently, I’ve decided to start wearing a helmet during our low level survey ops. We fly a Cessna 337 tracking wolves and bears in the mountains. Until this gig, I never felt a need to wear a helmet (not even acro). But now that I’m spending plenty of time at the treetops, I figure it just might pay off.


I have to say, we sure get some strange looks from the other fixed wing guys. And it’s always fun when the occasional stranger walks up and asks what type of helicopter I’m flying...

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