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I was on a job and a guy landed about twenty miles out 'cause he was starting to sweat... it so happens his boss was there and ranted and raved about what an idiot he was... and then guess who needed a couple of jerry cans brought out to him a few weeks later? Ahhhh the humanity!!!

 

A wicked headwind can ruin the best laid plans... I have never had to call for a fuel delivery but I've been close a few times... I want to be the guy who has the courage to land and ask for help... not continue on and flame out like many people have done in the past... It is far better to swallow one's pride and admit to an error of judgement... and hopefully not repeat the same mistake (especially not three times).

 

Right on H.V. You hit the nail on the head. I was on a fire a few years ago where a machine crashed 2 miles short of camp. He was low on fuel because of a headwind, all he had to do was swallow his pride, land and call for fuel. This would have been imbarassing(spelling?) but not as bad as the other outcome.

 

Later, Bubba

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Skids Up,

 

Re: The use of and responsibility for constructed heli-pads.

 

As far as determining whether or not a constructed heli-pad is safe to use is still the responsibility of each individual pilot, no? As you said yourself “use them…as we see fit.”

 

Just because someone else has already used it, does not mean that we should… just follow blindly because “if he can do it, so can I”. I would hope that any prudent, professional pilot (say that 3 times fast!) would treat his first landing at any constructed pad as just that and would use the appropriate procedures and caution. Personally, I don’t really care how many times anyone else has landed there, what really matters to me is that I’m landing there, and the customer is just going to have to bear with me until I am comfortable with the situation.

 

IMHO, responsibility for the structural integrity of the pad must lie with the agency that built the thing and I believe the various agencies are coming to grips with that idea. Case in point, after a recent fire very near my base, I asked the local MoF office if they had a problem with me using a couple of the log pads for recurrent training purposes. After considerable humming & hawing, they said that as they had no intention of maintaining the pads, they were not comfortable with the idea because of their liability exposure should a pad collapse during a training session. I took that comment to mean that they were assuming some responsibility for the heli-pads.

 

...just my 2 cents worth!

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HV, Awsome points, I am talking REALLY LOW sure you are on reserve or mabey even emergancy but why take a risk, as speacially if you are +PAX, just saying, I would rather divert and choose to call than run out and have to call.

 

Ryan, that would suck. certainly if you were the one who deemed it safe, man would that be embarasing(sp- been outta school to long cant spell)

 

On the pad & Wx note, again pilot decision(jees my spelling again) making. when it all boils down, Who is at the controls should be in control

 

Cole

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Hey Cole,

 

Pilot decision making is not something that can be learnt by going in a classroom for an hour or so every year.

 

I'm afraid things aren't as black and white out in the field with all sorts of variables affecting your previously sound decision changing it into a poor decision.

 

That's not to say that you should plan to be flying in absolute crap weather or be landing with less fuel then you would otherwise like to land with but both will happen sooner or later. Later would be much much better though.

 

One way to help avoid situations like those above is to hold yourself to higher minimums than are required.

 

ttf

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H_V - I hear ya about clearings - I was more referring to the type of person who can see it's crap and still wants to go. Those I can do without!

 

Staring a jetbox? If you work out the start cycles and wear and tear, and divide it into the cost of an engine - 20 years ago, we worked it out as 100 UK pounds to start one if you did it too often. $100 was a conservative guess.

 

Treetopflyer - higher personal mins are always good. Don't wait till it's too late! But you're right - nature often throws a fast ball

 

Phil

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One thing Cole is that we sometimes get painted into a corner through no fault of our own... or at least we haven't done something blatantly stupid but the fates have conspired against us.

 

For instance, one time I was flying an Astar from Pickle Lake to Red Lake in Ontario. The weather was decent in both places but it was in the fall, pressure was dropping and the temp was about -4 to -5 degrees. I got a weather briefing from flight services that gave me no cause for alarm so I headed off. Roughly half way I ran into freezing drizzle that was starting to obscure my windscreen... there was not a single mention of freezing drizzle in my briefing but there it was. I considered landing or turning around but suddenly it ended, so on I went. About ten minutes later I ran into another patch... this one was a little heavier and lasted a little longer... I was starting to get worried but just as quickly as the first time I came out of it and could even see blue sky ahead of me. Also, I was talking to a fixed wing guy that was going into Red Lake ahead of me and he said there wasn't a trace of drizzle where he was... so I kept going since there is really nowhere to land unless you can find a spot in the trees somewhere and I knew that there were at least two patches of freezing drizzle behind me and now I was closer to Red than to Pickle... I had enough fuel to get to Red but no way could I now make it back to Pickle... I think under the circumstances I made reasonable decisions...

 

However, about 60 miles from Red Lake the drizzle returned and seemed determined to get me... The bubble was rapidly building up a layer and I was worried about the rotor system and flight controls... I turned 180 to try to get back in the clear but I flew for several minutes and it seemed to be getting worse, not better. I started looking for a place to land but could not find one to save my life (what an ironic expression in that situation). I found a beaver flood that looked clear but it's hard to do a proper reconnaissance looking out a small sliding window in your door... I tried to find a place to touch down on the beaver dam but there was always something sticking up that prevented me from finding a decent spot that I was sure would be safe. I sat there in the hover and put all the heat on the window (and an Astar has A LOT of heat)... I figure the ice was about half an inch thick on the window by this point... or at least it was thick enough that when the heat softened the coating, it broke off in big slabs that were very similiar to the slabs that Moses wrote the Ten Commandments on... so I sat there for about fifteen minutes... the drizzle continued but sitting in the hover in a beaver flood it didn't seem to be sticking to me anymore and there was no increase in power required to hover so it seemed that the rotor system remained clear.

 

I decided to get out of there and try to get out of the patch of drizzle or at least to find a place to land where I could shut down so I could pry my fingers off the cyclic and take a break... I came out of the beaver flood and headed south as the sky seemed brighter that way... sure enough in two minutes I was in the clear and the ice was falling off the machine like magic... I felt so good... man what a feeling... and then I hit another patch of drizzle... and then another... and another... but they always ended after a few minutes and I never found a decent place to land until I was in Red Lake... The trip took me waaaay longer than it was supposed to and I was down to less than fifteen percent fuel by the time I arrived... It wouldn't have taken much more for me to run too low on fuel to make it... and I was so close to spending the night in the backseat somewhere anyway...

 

So, is there a moral? I really can't think of one for me except to illustrate the "it's just a bit farther" syndrome. I baby-stepped my way into a situation that I hope I'm never faced with again.

 

I'm sure some guys will say I should have gone back to Pickle at the first sign of drizzle... but since it was unexpected and the area of drizzle ended with what looked like clear sailing ahead I think most guys would have pressed on.

 

Anyway, I arrived at my destination with a lot less fuel than I had planned. I was safe and sound but how close was I to having an alternate and not so pleasant ending? I don't know but I know that most guys that get into trouble don't set out to flout the rules and ignore comon sense... little by little we accept divergences from the norm that add up to big time trouble somewhere down the road...

 

HV

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But isn't that just the sort of scenario the rules are there for? You can often be put in a situation not of your making, and the Captaincy lies in how you deal with it. I wouldn't have gone back at the first sign of drizzle, either, but afetr that, who knows? I guess you gotta be there

 

Phil

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HV!!! that is exactly the kind of non-mistake that is allowable but if you looked at your GFA and it said possible freazing rain, CB's and otherwise that is the kind of poor discision making Im talking about. If you know you are going to be tight on fuel, plan some diversion points, that kind of thing.

 

Im not arguing that no accidents should ever happen, just the ones caused by poor Judgement of the pilot

 

Cole :punk:

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Back then there was no such thing as the GFA Cole. There was an FA that gave you all kinds of reference points and you could draw a GFA yourself. If all you receive is a telephone briefing from a guy and the risk of freezing precip of any kind is not mentioned then how can you plan for it? If the guy says "possibility of freezing drizzle enroute" would you still go?

 

I have seen "risk of freezing rain/drizzle" many many times in an area forecast and gone for months flying everyday in that area without ever seeing any... the forecasts often cover a huge area subject to local conditions. As for planning diversions, that is possible only if such a place exists. If you are going from point A to point B and there are no places in between where do you plan to divert to? The point of origin recedes as a place you can go to at some point after half way unless you have bags of fuel. The other option is to land and wait for clear skies at the first clear-cut or something you arrive at... but when the weather looks better ahead and you've already come through a few patches of nasty stuff the idea of landing for the night seems like a worse option than continuing.

 

You have to weigh all the options and decide what's best... and there will always be someone who will tell you what you should have done (and they are oftentimes right on the money) but it is easy to imagine a scenario from the comfort of an armchair and come up with all kinds of "right" decisions... it's far harder out in the real world. I can't deny the fact that one of my motivating factors was the fact that if I landed for the night I had a boss who would have called me every name in the book and made me feel about two inches tall... That's one of the reasons it's good to have a support group of guys who have been there and know what it's like... management often says one thing but you can tell they're thinking something quite different...

 

Anyway, what I'm trying to say is that planning ahead and having a good set of "limit switches" is really important... but as a famous General (whose name I can't recall) once said, "No plan survives contact with the enemy"... Having a back up plan and knowing when to say "enough's enough!" will also really help... but nobody's perfect and no one that I know of always knows the right thing to do.

 

HV

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