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I scared the cr#p out of myself when


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In the 90’s I was fighting fire in California. My helicopter was assigned to a base in the Weaverville area. I flew to the coordinates given and saw the pad and landed. The first thing that caught my eye was the very large fence surrounding a cluster of buildings. I quickly realized that I was in fact sitting by a prison. At least the helipad was on the outside I chuckled to myself. After shutting down I wandered to a shack beside the helipad to find it deserted. In fact, there was not a soul around. I noticed a bull horn hanging from a bungy cord and me being the dummy I sometimes am.... I picked it up and loudly said: “GET AWAY FROM THE FENCE”!

 

Now why I would do something like that, I don't really know. I was alone and bored, but not for long. Three trucks roared up and six prison guards bailed out GUNS DRAWN! Holy $#*& I thought as I stood there with my arms very well raised! “I'm the pilot” I exclaimed! “You're a dumb-***” one of the guards replied, “and we could lock you up for that!”

 

I quickly agreed that yes, I was not very smart and assured them I would not do anything like that in the future. I was a little concerned when I was told to get in the truck and was then driven INSIDE the prison! I was brought to the kitchen area and was told lunch would be ready in 15 minutes. I quickly realized that I was now temporarily based here and I would even be sleeping in a cell. That night I was shown to my sleeping quarters and yes, it was in fact a cell. “What's the difference between me and those other guys” I asked? “Your cell stays open” the guard replied “and you shower alone”!

He saw my concerned look and then told me to relax, this was a minimum security prison and all the prisoners here were getting ready for release and none of them was going to do anything stupid to jeopardize that. Good to know I thought to myself!

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one more....

 

Back to Canada and 1995 when I was sitting at the fire base in Lynn Lake Manitoba with a Bell 205 helicopter when a frantic  call came on the radio. “Lynn Lake Fire Base, this is IA crew 27, fire 63 just took off and we need immediate evacuation!” Without needing to be told I immediately ran to my helicopter and fired it up. I had my bucket hooked up so I quickly filled it up in the lake right beside the base and I was off to the fire. I called the crew over the radio and told them to haul *** for the helipad. As I got close I could see the fire was running towards the firefighters and their camp and could see the firefighters running through the bush to the helipad. I took my bucket of water and made a fast long drop along the front of the fire. I knew I wasn't going to stop it but only needed it to slow down a little so I could pull out my guys. After my drop i landed on the pad and the guys started to pile in. I looked up at the fire and was shocked by what I saw. The fire had started to “roll” which meant it was moving fast and it was hot. Trees were literally bursting before my eyes. The next thing I knew the fire was licking at my helicopter. I started to scream to the firefighters to leave everything and get onboard. The paint on the nose of my helicopter started to bubble so I started to pull pitch and lift off. The last fire fighter dove into the machine while I was lifting off and got safely onboard. I hovered out over the lake and checked everyone was belted in and accounted for, then flew to the other side of the lake and dropped off the crew. I then went back to bucket water on the fire until the tankers could come in to knock down the flames. That night my engineer was looking at the bubbled paint and asked: “getting a little close aren't you?” “Ya” I said, “but it's not fun if it’s not a little exciting!”

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Mid 90's I was driving a 206 on lower gear do logging support. I was parking on an active logging road so I was putting the carousel and the 150' line over the edge so no one would drive over it. I was napping in the back seat when I got the medi-vac call on the radio. I jump out and to get the stretcher and put it in the back. I quickly got the machine started and lifted off over top of my long line and carousel.... I am skimming the top of the trees as I am parked higher than the logging show.....for some reason I looked at the mirror and saw the line coming with me.... no room to flare to do a quick stop because the line was to close to the tail rotor as I was now lower than the carousel..... I punched the line off as I feel the tug of the line and thankfully the hook was armed. And I saw the hook release.....I was so shaken that it took many deep breaths to keep going.

The injured logger was a minor injury so I flew him to the landing where the ambulance was.

I returned to my parking spot and took the next 1 and 1/2 to get my long line out of the trees it was tangled in.

Since that day..... I have never parked with the line still hooked up.... I leave the electrical plugged hooked up but the bell of the line is always unhooked and laying on the ground.

And yes.... I have had to get out to hook it up after I am all strapped in which I will do gladly rather lift off forgetting it is hooked up.

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I don't believe only the few of us have scared ourselves in this industry... I look forward to hearing from you other guys that have had close calls. 

Many lower time people could learn from us.

 

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That longline story is a big one Pool. Thanks for sharing it. I was on the scene of a “tether ball” incident in which the pilot survived. I learned that one second hand but it’s so easy to forget. 
If I leave the line on, I hook it on my door handle. Can’t get in without forgetting it that way. Although that only works on an AStar. 

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4 hours ago, R0T0R said:

That longline story is a big one Pool. Thanks for sharing it. I was on the scene of a “tether ball” incident in which the pilot survived. I learned that one second hand but it’s so easy to forget. 
If I leave the line on, I hook it on my door handle. Can’t get in without forgetting it that way. Although that only works on an AStar. 

The moral of story was never leave a longline connected when parked. 

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My learning moment was when I was JUST about to hit the starter and thought something looked odd in the mirror. I had draped the longline over the skid when I hooked it up. Lets just say I jumped out and reattached the line properly. Probably would have been ok with an empty bucket, but would literally have gone sideways with a full one...

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Don’t bother Long lining Boats!

Was working in the Arctic flying a 206L on fixed Floats. 

On a rare sunny day in Cambridge Bay (at the airport) against my gut feeling I agreed to move the clients rubber dingy via longline from pond to pond.

Attached a strap between the remote hook and Bow ring (second mistake after agreeing to fly it) and then attached a cargo net to the stern for stability.

Got the line tight and lifted the dingy, started flying forward and thought to myself this is working! At about 30 mph and 300’ I looked in the mirror and was alarmed to see the dingy disappear from view behind the helicopter. Just as I was about to punch it the bow ring departed and I watched as the dingy fluttered down into a small lake beside the airport. 
 

From then on I made the client inflate and deflate the dingy between ponds and ended up having to make 2 trips between ponds resulting in more flight pay anyway. 
 

 

 

 

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