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External Loads-what Have You Dropped?

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Guest Angry Egg Driver

Thought it might be an interesting topic to bring up.What have you dropped or bumped an external load into?If you do enough of it,sooner or later something will happen. :P

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Had the opportunity to work with some real bone headed customers once(no one else has I'm sure)...anyways it was blowing a gale just after we had moved into a new campsite...raining also...the camp boss says its time to sling the gear off the beach up to the campsite...a distants of about 1/4 of a mile.My suggestion of waiting for the wind to die down falls on deaf ears and the comment to me was...if you don't want to sling it up here you can go down and start carrying it up here...this after bending over backwards for these jerks for the last 30 days...so as I says to him if things go bad the load will be punched....his reply...whatever....well I tell them the loads will have to be light as the pick up point is up wind of the drop off sight and short of hovering backwards for a 1/4 mile turning downwind will be some fun.Well two loads go as reasonable as one can imagine with the wind,rain,and pilot with a bad attitude...now for the last load...and its just a beauty...plywood on the bottom and assorted junk on top.Unknown to me at the time was my own personal toolboxes(2).Well getting it up was a bear,with maybe 10 torgue to spare,I try to hover sideways with it...no luck...drags me to the ground....going all the way backwards was a good way to run into something near the camp....so lets try flying this crap and doing a mile wide turn....she gets going okay and into translation okay...up to 30 mph...okay....start do do the wide turn okay...now going downwind like a bat out off ****...trying to push enough cyclic to keep her flying....no way...the airspeed hits 0 and we start to sink...the torgue is at 100%...so as calm as one can be at this moment in time...I know that this load is not long for the world....try turning into wind...no way will she turn...heading for the ground....left hand ready for the emergency release just in case the electric fails...going to wait for the last minute before punching it off....about 10 feet from the ground....bombs away...gain control of old bettsy again...calmly park her near the camp...shut down....blades are still turning when the camp boss and his cohorts come over and now are saying that I did that on purpose and want to kick the crap out of me....well seeing as they outnumbered me six to one...I calmly announced that if they should like to join into fisticuffs...get in line...as I drew a line in the dirt...I said I would gladly ablige them...one at a time.After no one took up my offer and I tried explaining what I had told them before this dog and pony show got started...they grumbly shuffled off and I went over to see what had become of the bomb load.To my displeasure I found what was left of my toolboxes....flattened to about six inches high....as the rotor turns :blink: :down: :shock: :wacko:

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An argo's wheels will flatten out nicely if you drop one from 150 feet........


It was the only thing I've ever dropped - and was trying to get it out of a clearing - the 15th load that day.


When the job started the customer had been told that the LR could lift 1200 lbs - well, it could if you take the ski basket off and leave the survival kit out! Also, the stage length was 23 miles and the minimum fuel for the Ops manual was supposed to be 140 lbs, which meant I had one chance or drop the cable and go off and get some more (the fuel was 12 miles away). The temperature wasn't bad (12 degs) and there was a bit of wind and the ol' beast had a C30P, so I thought I would give it a go, into wind and shuffle sort of 45 degrees towards the bit where the trees were lowest.


Well, the basic Argo actually weighs 985 lbs, and this was the extended model, with a frame on top, tracks on, covered in mud, full of fuel *and* with two spare bateries in the back that somebody had conveniently forgot to mention.


So after a minute or so at 100%, she's dragging s l o w l y off the ground, and I can see the trees waving, so I've still got some wind, and I went for it. It took another two minutes to get to where I felt I could pull my head in, and just as I started to ease off and give the engine a break the bl**dy wind dropped and it wrapped itself round a tree, which promptly started to pull me backwards. If my head was outside the door I might have played with it a bit, but I didn't argue and just pulled the plug.


Unlucky customer, no insurance, but the machine's still flying and I'm still walking.


Now, unless that load springs off the ground, it don't go anywhere. I also keep the head out a bit longer.



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DGP's experience is a perfect example of the pressures to which pilots are often subject. Against his better judgment, the pilot engaged in an operation with which he was uncomfortable, the end result being the destruction or property. Fortunately in this case the loss involved only material and not life, but many times in the past, similar circumstances have ended in death.


The pilot was subjected to intimidation and coercion to do the job. As is often the case, he was alone and he faced the combined wrath of several other individuals. It is extremely difficult to stand one’s ground in these circumstances. Not only is the pressure from the client overwhelming, but the company for whom the pilot works sometimes also contributes. Uncooperative pilots are often replaced. The operator is faced with an ultimatum from the client to either force the pilot to comply with the client’s wishes or replace him. Particularly in these increasingly difficult economic times the latter course of action results. The operator simply cannot afford to lose the business and one way or the other, the pilot loses. He either flies against his will or is sent packing and suffers damage to his self-esteem in either case.


The pilot’ s authority must be absolute. He and he alone makes the final decision regarding everything his aircraft does. If he declines to fly even though the visibility is slightly above minimums, or because the machine is loaded a few kilograms above its gross mass, or because he is fatigued, his judgment should never be questioned.


Often, pilots are induced to at least ‘give it a try’. This is a recipe for disaster. Experienced pilots should know in advance whether or not they can succeed. Once airborne it is doubly difficult to turn back.


Considerable pity must be conferred on novice pilots when they are faced with these situations. After having spent a fortune on training, months or even years finding a job, and then to have to deal with something like this is overwhelming, They must, but cannot say no. Once they have acquiesced the first time, the standard has been set. The pilot’s authority has been compromised. He will succumb again.


When operators are faced with a client’s who wish to have a pilot replaced they should say this. “Sorry. He is our man on the job. We hired him because he is a fine pilot and exercises excellent judgment. If he declines to fly, we back him one hundred percent. If you don’t like it, find another company to do the job for you.”


To whom does a pilot turn when he is intimidated and coerced? Transport Canada? Ha. The association of his peers who looks after his interests? It doesn’t exist. The company for whom he works? Unreliable. What does he do? He flies. This is wrong. It is likely that this state of affairs is the single biggest contributor to wrecked helicopters and injury and death in aviation today.

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I can only recall 3 dropped loads in 15,000 hrs, both were "Ground crew " issues.


1 ) The crew hooked up the lanyard to the Astar OK, but the lower lanyard hook was filled with netting, not the steel ring on the net. It was a progressive failure, as each strand of net broke, I was too high to get to the ground on time.

Result, 1,200 lbs of groceries infused together ! It took the ground crewman about 2 years to fess up to the mistake, but he finally did.


2 ) The ground crew whined about getting shocked in light rain, so I laid the hook(150' line ) on the ground near them. They hooked up a net with 1,500 lbs of Concrete (bags) in it, the load dropped away on departure, about 100' away, 50' high. On inspection, the keeper on the remote hook was forced sideways, so evidently, it was lifted with the full weight of the load on the keeper only.


In both cases, the customer assumed full responsibility.


3 ) With 4-5 Honey Bucket" barrels" on the line, one steel cable broke to one barrel, the result, 400 lbs of Grade A granola and yogurt fed shiiit was spread and injected into the mountianside. What a mess, and evidently, you can spread 400 lbs of "Grade A" over a huge area !

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When operators are faced with a client?s who wish to have a pilot replaced they should say this. ?Sorry. He is our man on the job. We hired him because he is a fine pilot and exercises excellent judgment. If he declines to fly, we back him one hundred percent. If you don?t like it, find another company to do the job for you.?

That's exactly what happens here in those kinds of situations, the pilots are backed up by management 100%, and most custormers "see the light" if our chief pilot or ops manager needs to get involved.


You make it sound like it's an industry wide epidemic but I don't think it is. A lot of pilots assume that they'll catch #### if they piss off the customer for refusing to do something unsafe but they'd be surprised to see what happens when they stand their ground.

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This is getting off the topic but the above mentioned job that I was on was already an accident before I had arrived.These people had started the job with a fixed wing aircraft which when I arrived was missing the righthand float which had been ripped off trying to takeoff with more than what she had been certified for...the pilot aborted the takeoff too late...resulting in the damaged float...a/c resting in the water at a very bad right slant....yes....I was sure that the poor pilot involved was pushed to the max...as I was to find out later...and yes if you don't think you can handle the results of your actions...better to say no...as I was raked over the coals when I got back to base for pissing off the customers...this after more than 15 years service...my parting remarks were thanks for giving me a reason to look for other employment.I was not let go but left of my own accord a few years later .At that time I was also told to ...just give the office a call if things are not going well....from the nearest phone...200 f..ing miles away...a lesson well taught..my line now and for evermore is...Oh yah I'm allurgic to cavass...ahole!!!! : :up:

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