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Heli Ski/ Winter Mountain Ops...

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Guest DopeOnARope
So I'll take the bait, apparently it's all tall order to ask for a bit of helpful advice here anymore. Pretty green in the heli-ski world myself but seeing as its all fresh ill share what I've learned as I'm eternally grateful to those that have been helping me out lately:

 

-learn your area inside and out, make mental and GPS (in that order) landmarks of bad weather routes and your outs to fuel caches, lodges or pickups. The weather WILL get bad and having a mental map in your head goes a long way.

 

-make approaches with options to break off and try again. 3 strikes is a good rule, after 3 tries and you don't feel comfortable find another option.

 

-be part of the team, listen at guides meetings and ask questions. Same as any job, if you know the ins and outs of the operation you're supporting it'll make your life easier.

 

-don't lose your reference no matter what. Use your flag, rock, tree or whatever. As long as you have something other than snow to look at when you're landing.

 

Otherwise just pay attention to wind and stay ahead of the helicopter in your head, again just like any other job. Most of all limit your food intake, it comes fast and delicious all day.

 

 

Im sure theres a lot more hints and tricks out there but as stated this is not advice from an expert but better than answering a question with a question.

 

You don't need 10,000 hour to speak up, I loved all these tips and will use them all!!!

 

DOAR

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So I'll take the bait, apparently it's all tall order to ask for a bit of helpful advice here anymore. Pretty green in the heli-ski world myself but seeing as its all fresh ill share what I've learned as I'm eternally grateful to those that have been helping me out lately: -learn your area inside and out, make mental and GPS (in that order) landmarks of bad weather routes and your outs to fuel caches, lodges or pickups. The weather WILL get bad and having a mental map in your head goes a long way. -make approaches with options to break off and try again. 3 strikes is a good rule, after 3 tries and you don't feel comfortable find another option. -be part of the team, listen at guides meetings and ask questions. Same as any job, if you know the ins and outs of the operation you're supporting it'll make your life easier. -don't lose your reference no matter what. Use your flag, rock, tree or whatever. As long as you have something other than snow to look at when you're landing. Otherwise just pay attention to wind and stay ahead of the helicopter in your head, again just like any other job. Most of all limit your food intake, it comes fast and delicious all day. Im sure theres a lot more hints and tricks out there but as stated this is not advice from an expert but better than answering a question with a question.

Much better than answering a question with a question.

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I don't see it as stirring the pot but a legit question. You can see it any way you want. If he answers the question or even PM's me with his experience maybe I could help him maybe I can't.

 

I guess you could say now I see you stirring the pot. Its all perspective!

I was complimenting you for asking him questions. Lighten up.

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Here's an old post from a very experienced Ski Pilot, very good Info.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

I put this together as a basic information package on heliskiing. It's not everything that you need to know, but it's a start.

In the past some have ripped it apart, I suppose that's to be expected on the internet. Take from it what you can. If anybody has something to add to it, please do.

"4961"



There are several things to consider before a days work heli-skiing. The following are just a few:

1) Weather:
1) Your personal level of training and visibility limitations (are you half mile rated?)
2) What are the temperature and the due point, and how will it effect your day?
3) Fog and cloud in relationship to imbedded snow.
4) Is there going to be any icing, where and at what level?
5) What is the weather trend for the day? How will it affect you?
6) Find the wind direction and the speed.
7) Use the WAT chart for the 212. For the Astar, will you be torque limited or NG?
Power management is critical in mountain flying, do everything that you can to insure that you will have sufficient power to provide safe approaches. This being said the weather is usually the largest contributing factor in heliskiing mishaps. Arm yourself with all the information that you can. Use the discreet radio to get information on the weather in other places in the tenure. “Operation white thong” is a humorous way of getting the point across that the weather is unacceptable for continued operations. Pull out and go home.
If you’re flying more than one group, anticipate how long it’s going to take you to pull out all of your groups compared to how the weather is degrading. If need be, shuttle groups to a place that can be used as a staging area as you pull the other groups out of the hills.

2) Mountain Flying:
a) The recci, gather information on:
1) Wind speed and direction; find the line of demarcation, both good and bad air.
2) Available references at the landing area. As well as available reference for an aborted landing.
3) Terrain, slope and obstacles. Use and eye level pass, where is the tail going to go? Is the spot level? How deep is the snow? Will the blades clear the reference once the nose sinks in?
4) Approach and departure paths.
cool.gif On Approach be sure to always:
1) Plan your approach paths using your best reference, including your abort.
2) Plan your approach so that you remain un-committed for as long as possible.
3) Leave yourself an out until the last possible moment.
4) Complete a power check before you’re committed to the spot.
5) Plan a level touch down, no sideways movement.
6) Avoid a large run on landing.

Never:
1) Loose sight of your reference, sliding past your stake or rock. Be sure to have control of your rate of closure.
2) Flair at touchdown, you will put the tail into the snow.
3) Commit to the spot before it is necessary.
4) Assume the wind at the landing area.
c) Departures:
1) Vertical take off to clear out of the snowball from the rotor wash, also to clear the tail rotor from the clients.
2) Do a power check before committing to a take off; be sure that the skids are free from the snow. Don’t assume that you have the power.
3) Maintain your reference at all costs.
4) Getting a full group off the bottom of the hill can be the most challenging piece of flying that a pilot will do during a days heliskiing. Picking up at the base of a glacier with level terrain behind is a maneuver that will take lots of power. Be sure, if not, split the group.
3) Reference Management:
a) Always maintain your reference. If this is becoming difficult then maybe its time to get out of that area.
cool.gif Always turn towards your reference; never give it away until you have a fix on your next reference.
c) Remember that scale can be very difficult to judge. Be sure of the size of the object that you are, half buried steak, or a tree (is it big or small) think about how the illusion will affect your rate of closure.
d) It is harder to go downhill than uphill. Don’t get suckered into going for the landing when the vis is poor. Once you are there, your only half way. Once you’re off the landing in poor visibility, control your ground speed. Diving for the valley in bad weather is a recipe for disaster.
e) Have the demisting on before the clients get in the machine.
4) Operations:
a) Always maintain good communications with whom ever is flight watching.
cool.gif Staking new landings with clients on board will be done (as all things) at the pilots discretion, and saved for sunny days and favorable winds.
c) Your job is to fly the helicopter and decide where and when it is safe to fly and land, not the guides!
d) Don’t park the helicopter in an area that is exposed to avalanche.
e) If you are uncomfortable, or unsure, don’t do it. Error on the side of safety every time.
5) Customer Pressure:
a) The most common heliski accidents are lack of sufficient power to land or take off and loss of visual reference, the question is what happened? Why did this experienced pilot find himself in that position?
cool.gif Guides are not pilots, and have no say in aviation related decision making. Red flag phrases; “We can always get in there” “The last guy had no problem” “The rest of the groups are staying out” “It was fine a couple days ago” RECOGNIZE BAD ADVICE.
c) Other peoples decision making should not affect yours. Very small difference in weather, loading, comfort levels, experience can make the difference between go and no-go. Make your own calls and stick by them.
d) Make good safety calls, no matter what the customer says. We will back you up, every time. Heliskiing is no different than any other type of flying, our limits stay the same.
e) One half mile flight visibility, clear of cloud at all times. Max gross weight or below, always. Remain within the c of g envelope during all stages of your flight. Remain clear of icing. If you are unsure, don’t do it.

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Here's an old post from a very experienced Ski Pilot, very good Info.

 

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

I put this together as a basic information package on heliskiing. It's not everything that you need to know, but it's a start.

 

In the past some have ripped it apart, I suppose that's to be expected on the internet. Take from it what you can. If anybody has something to add to it, please do.

 

"4961"

 

 

 

There are several things to consider before a days work heli-skiing. The following are just a few:

 

1) Weather:

1) Your personal level of training and visibility limitations (are you half mile rated?)

2) What are the temperature and the due point, and how will it effect your day?

3) Fog and cloud in relationship to imbedded snow.

4) Is there going to be any icing, where and at what level?

5) What is the weather trend for the day? How will it affect you?

6) Find the wind direction and the speed.

7) Use the WAT chart for the 212. For the Astar, will you be torque limited or NG?

Power management is critical in mountain flying, do everything that you can to insure that you will have sufficient power to provide safe approaches. This being said the weather is usually the largest contributing factor in heliskiing mishaps. Arm yourself with all the information that you can. Use the discreet radio to get information on the weather in other places in the tenure. “Operation white thong” is a humorous way of getting the point across that the weather is unacceptable for continued operations. Pull out and go home.

If you’re flying more than one group, anticipate how long it’s going to take you to pull out all of your groups compared to how the weather is degrading. If need be, shuttle groups to a place that can be used as a staging area as you pull the other groups out of the hills.

 

2) Mountain Flying:

a) The recci, gather information on:

1) Wind speed and direction; find the line of demarcation, both good and bad air.

2) Available references at the landing area. As well as available reference for an aborted landing.

3) Terrain, slope and obstacles. Use and eye level pass, where is the tail going to go? Is the spot level? How deep is the snow? Will the blades clear the reference once the nose sinks in?

4) Approach and departure paths.

cool.gif On Approach be sure to always:

1) Plan your approach paths using your best reference, including your abort.

2) Plan your approach so that you remain un-committed for as long as possible.

3) Leave yourself an out until the last possible moment.

4) Complete a power check before you’re committed to the spot.

5) Plan a level touch down, no sideways movement.

6) Avoid a large run on landing.

 

Never:

1) Loose sight of your reference, sliding past your stake or rock. Be sure to have control of your rate of closure.

2) Flair at touchdown, you will put the tail into the snow.

3) Commit to the spot before it is necessary.

4) Assume the wind at the landing area.

c) Departures:

1) Vertical take off to clear out of the snowball from the rotor wash, also to clear the tail rotor from the clients.

2) Do a power check before committing to a take off; be sure that the skids are free from the snow. Don’t assume that you have the power.

3) Maintain your reference at all costs.

4) Getting a full group off the bottom of the hill can be the most challenging piece of flying that a pilot will do during a days heliskiing. Picking up at the base of a glacier with level terrain behind is a maneuver that will take lots of power. Be sure, if not, split the group.

3) Reference Management:

a) Always maintain your reference. If this is becoming difficult then maybe its time to get out of that area.

cool.gif Always turn towards your reference; never give it away until you have a fix on your next reference.

c) Remember that scale can be very difficult to judge. Be sure of the size of the object that you are, half buried steak, or a tree (is it big or small) think about how the illusion will affect your rate of closure.

d) It is harder to go downhill than uphill. Don’t get suckered into going for the landing when the vis is poor. Once you are there, your only half way. Once you’re off the landing in poor visibility, control your ground speed. Diving for the valley in bad weather is a recipe for disaster.

e) Have the demisting on before the clients get in the machine.

4) Operations:

a) Always maintain good communications with whom ever is flight watching.

cool.gif Staking new landings with clients on board will be done (as all things) at the pilots discretion, and saved for sunny days and favorable winds.

c) Your job is to fly the helicopter and decide where and when it is safe to fly and land, not the guides!

d) Don’t park the helicopter in an area that is exposed to avalanche.

e) If you are uncomfortable, or unsure, don’t do it. Error on the side of safety every time.

5) Customer Pressure:

a) The most common heliski accidents are lack of sufficient power to land or take off and loss of visual reference, the question is what happened? Why did this experienced pilot find himself in that position?

cool.gif Guides are not pilots, and have no say in aviation related decision making. Red flag phrases; “We can always get in there” “The last guy had no problem” “The rest of the groups are staying out” “It was fine a couple days ago” RECOGNIZE BAD ADVICE.

c) Other peoples decision making should not affect yours. Very small difference in weather, loading, comfort levels, experience can make the difference between go and no-go. Make your own calls and stick by them.

d) Make good safety calls, no matter what the customer says. We will back you up, every time. Heliskiing is no different than any other type of flying, our limits stay the same.

e) One half mile flight visibility, clear of cloud at all times. Max gross weight or below, always. Remain within the c of g envelope during all stages of your flight. Remain clear of icing. If you are unsure, don’t do it.

Great Post 3BX2! Perhaps if everyone can all respond like that to threads other veteran members of Vertical will slowly start to return. I shudder to think who lurks on these forums other than aircrew and sees some of the comments on here. On a positive note, some of the major problem members have left the forum, seems the threat of being legally responsible for their comments has chased them away. I believe thats a good thing personally.

 

I have never flown in heli-skiing ops, but have thousands of hours in mountains and winter ops. It was a good thread to start, from what I have seen and heard about heli-skiing it is arguably the most difficult ops in the industry. I would like to start a thread in the future about icing, particularily in IFR ops., lots of different opinions and considerations on it. There is probably a lot of info in this thread that relates to icing so will let this run it's course first.

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I know several exceptional drivers who have tens of thousands of incident free heliskiing under there belts who would love to mentor less experienced folks on the pros and cons of heliskiing. Problem is they no longer frequent this site as the are frankly embarrassed by the past goings on here.

 

i could not agree more Heli Wrench. What a bunch of miserable condecending SOB's. Guys asking for a hand up and just gets walked on. Shame on the lot of ya.

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I know several exceptional drivers who have tens of thousands of incident free heliskiing under there belts who would love to mentor less experienced folks on the pros and cons of heliskiing. Problem is they no longer frequent this site as the are frankly embarrassed by the past goings on here.

 

Good on ya. What a bunch of snivelling Condescending SOB's. The poor guy is just looking for a hand up and you guys walk on him instead. Unbelievable.

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Good one 3BX2, I don't have too much heliski experience, but have 35 years flying in the mountains, summer and winter, and picked up a few pointers from your post. We also signed up all our (3) pilots for the mountain flying course in H.A.I. next month. You never know when someone comes up with a better way to do something.

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