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External Loads-what Have You Dropped?


Guest Angry Egg Driver

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Wish my record were as good as 407D's 'one per 5K' (I won't even discuss 'Mr. Perfect' other than to say most of us got a lot more done in the earlier years by pushing the envelope a little - usually without hurting anyone). I'm only managing about '1 per 3K,' although they were pretty long ago, and two of the four were release problems (and both were expensive, if not overly exciting).

 

My first was a very exciting ride in a 47 while setting cedar hydro poles out of Prince Rupert and, yes, we needed a bit of breeze and used 'transient' RPM. One pole had an enormous butt, and I had it left aside until I was very low on fuel. I hooked onto the sucker, swung her up and balanced into wind until everything felt right. I ease us up and forward at the same time, committing myself to the takeoff but, just before I felt the onset of translation, the wind dropped off. Both RPM and tail rotor authority started to reduce, and I decided to drop the log into the shallow salt chuck, but the electrical release didn't respond to my jabbing thumb. The collective was quickly so high that I could no longer reach the manual release, and I was glued to it like it was my lifeline, so I 'rode' the load and the bird down, rotating to the right at a gentler rate than I deserved, until the log lay flat in the shallow water and I could milk my RPM back. More or less regaining control of everything, I settled myself down, released the load manually, and landed for some fuel and a badly-needed cigarette. :shock:

 

My last (let's hope) was a 204 load of heavy wooden beams from a drill mat southwest of Arctic Red River. The rig had to be moved about 15 miles and those beams sat waiting for me until I couldn't avoid them any longer. With the lowest possible amount of fuel, I hooked onto the suckers and, thanks to a decent breeze and the short, stubby trees around us, was able to stagger into the air with them, once the old girl had waited the obligatory amount of time. Climbing was slow, with lots of body language, but I finally got up to where I thought I might get enough speed on to arrive with some fuel. Each time I approached 30 knots, though, the load bucked like it was going to throw both me and the helicopter. So I nursed it up to about 1000'AGL and decided I'd make one last try at some speed, thinking all the while about what my 204 instructor had told me about 'collective bounce.' "If you ever think you're into it," he cautioned, "Don't let it bounce a third time or you won't live to talk about it." So, now, as I forced the bird through 30K, and she bucked once, twice, then ... I punched the sucker off before the dreaded third bounce. I hauled the bird onto her side and watched as the oil company's expensive drill matting turned into billions of toothpicks while I wondered if the rig boss was going to understand about 'collective bounce.'

 

In case anyone thinks otherwise, please understand that I'm not recommending the techniques or the thinking that were pretty common 30 and 40 years ago. Rather, I hope the newer hands can see that, lacking the standards and safety focuses that are becoming common today, we did some pretty scary and foolish things back then, in the name of "gittin' 'er done." Most of us got away without paying the ultimate price but, sadly, not all of us. It wasn't always due to external pressures, either. Many of us did it for competitive reasons, and some out of pure ego. :(

 

Thank God that, with a few sad exceptions, there aren't the same pressures to operate like that any more. "Git 'er done," yes. But "Take 'er cool." B)

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In this order:

 

(1) sling load of "Willy Pete" shells which caused New Year's Eve fireworks in New Year's Eve day no less.

 

(2) eight full drums of JP-4.

 

(3) Comms tower.

 

(4) Bambi bucket full of "loon sh*t".....and at 60kts, the bucket survived....don't ask me how.

 

(5) one full and 2 empty drums of JP-4.

 

Numbers 2 & 4 were my fault.......the rest because of varied reasons beyond my control.

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Well I actually have a lengthy list... and I like to think I'm a good planner so Black Mac's 35 year 0.0 record is amazing.

 

I have seen seismic bags rolling through a field full of ripe pumpkins the same shape and colour (it made finding the bags a little tough actually), a 10,000 pound concrete bucket hit a hillside at 100 kts, a 300 gallon potable water bladder burst exactly like a huge balloon, a 9,000 lb rig mat clear out a runway in the muskeg (that one wasn't me but I was there) when it fell from 1000 feet at 80+ kts... and a few more items along the way... but my favourite is:

 

I was hauling shite for a construction company that was putting in sewer and water in a remote (aboriginal) community. Stuff would come into an airport about 10 miles away and I would fly it to the construction crew as there was no road access due to a large lake in between.

 

So... one day a Cessna Caravan lands... and the pilot starts rolling out drums of diesel onto the ramp. He's not using a tire so every drum is getting banged up. I wander up and offer him a tire... he declines. He makes about 5 trips that day so I have a couple of dozen drums lined up on the side of the ramp.

 

Late in the afternoon the guy running the construction job calls me and wants me to start hauling diesel up to his equipment... I immediately rat out the Caravan driver and tell the construction guy how he didn't use a tire to cushion the drums landing on the ramp... of course the guy's upset because he'll lose his deposit on a lot of the drums but he wants me to start hauling them anyway.

 

Well... things started off okay... and then I hit the starter...:)

 

The first load was just clearing the trees and someone called me on the radio. Just like in Cap's story earlier I hit the load release instead of the transmit button... Poof!!!! From about 200 feet they landed in a huge pile of snow just off the end of the runway. My engineer waded in, almost up to his neck, to hook them back up and, miraculously, none of them had burst. But... they were flat!! Every one had distended ends and looked more like hip flasks then barrels.

 

Since I was hooked up to them anyway, I flew them up to the construction crew, placed them near a front end loader and landed about 50 metres away. By the time I had shut down and walked over there were about 30 people gathered around the drums. The guy who ran the job was flabbergasted. He says, "What the **** happened? They look like they fell 200 feet!!!" (These guys are amazing estimators). I calmly said "Well... I selected the worst ones to show you... but I did offer the guy a tire..."

 

I don't know if they bought it or not but I never heard another word about it and the fixed wing company had to pay the deposits on the drums... sometimes I wonder how I sleep nights...:)

 

HV

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Not that I consider myself a great experienced external load pilot, but I've lost like everybody else some bambi buckets and the next one:

I was flying one of those abservation cabinettes, more or less like a telephone booth and evrytime we did that load the thing spinned like **** giving me a hard time. Well that time was as usual, so I was keeping an eye on the load (I allways disarm the release just in case, during the flight) when this other helicopter calls me up (It was a friend of mine, so I answered him on the radio and in the moment I pushed the radio button the load starts to go awaaay from me :( . I went through the process again in my mind I made myself sure I hat hitten the radio button and the cargo release was off :huh: . Anyway I thought about static electricity and all that s**t that they tell you when there is no explanation for something (like cartridges in hoists and so on..)

The thing is I felt guilty for I had no explanation on why the load droped off just at the time I pushed the radio button :blink: . After some investigation we found out that the ring we used to sling the load was not meant for handling the twisting force that was standing. From then on we always use a drag so the load doesn't spin. :up:

So actually I dindn't drop a load yet but have lost some.

Buen vuelo

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HV -------over the eons I have noticed that the industry tends to get a tad smarter each year and develop things that makes one say "Geez, that's so simple. Why didn't I think of that or why didn't they have that bloody thing long ago?" What I'm referring to is the number of times nowadays that you will see what I term "the double-pull" that you have to do to release a load. Works great, simple idea, simple installation and I'm positive....has stopped a lot of sling loads from being added to the total list of loads that "have since departed...........and all prevented by a CHEAP, spring-loaded toggle switch. :D

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Well, this wasn't me, but I was involved. :blink:

 

While I was CP at the last company that I worked at we had a fella that was building hours and experience under my watchful eye. Actually this guy really did have his shite together, good attitude, good hands, all that stuff.

During the spring I was trying to get this guy as much longline time as I could in preparation for the upcoming season. Good plans go bad sometimes don't you know.

We had a small film crew up on the Pemberton ice cap (huge, flat) shooting a ski movie. They had been coming and going for a few days and we had slung up a couple of sleds for them to get around on. At the end of the day the plan was to go up to the glacier and sling out one of there sleds then head back up and pick up the crew.

The Ice cap is BIG, I mean, you could land the space shuttle on the thing a couple of times over. So I'm thinking I'd send up my lad to get some more sling time. Well I load him up with the line and a bunch of sling gear to go fetch this sled and off he goes. About forty minutes later I'm sitting by the radio when the news comes in. "I lost one of the sleds" One of the sleds? What the **** is he talking about? It turns out that the folks up on the glacier changed their minds and wanted both of their sleds flown off. In the past the more experienced guys at the base have rigged two sleds to fly one above the other using different length lanyards, it works really well, but it's a trick picking them up and making sure that nothing get cross loaded or hung up.

Now I'm outside watching one sled arrive at the heliport, one of the attachment points is pulled apart where the second sled was hooked and now is missing. Also the handlebars are bent at an odd angle. I'm thinking, nobody gets off easy, so I pull the longline off the machine, put it in the boot and climb in. Back up the hill we go, twenty miles of awkwardness.

I get landed beside the flattest sled in the world, this thing is FLAT. Nobody gets off easy, so I get out and hook my lad up again and tell him to take this heap to the heliport then come back and pick us up.

Now I have about a fifteen minute walk across the ice cap to where the crew has been watching the whole turn of events. When I finally get to them I say "I would have ridden the Mountain Max, but it wouldn't start" Not a smile, tough crowd. More Awkwardness.

We all finally get back to the heliport and survey the damage, the sled is dead, never to run again, so we hand load it up onto a truck and make some arrangements. The second sled with the bent bars is in the middle of the landing area so I ask the owner to get it out of the way. He gives it one pull and it fires up at full throttle and it's G O N E. Showers all of us in gravel, wow do those things move out, especially with nobody on it. The concrete block that it hit at full speed slowed it down nicely though. What a day.

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