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Winter Op's


Iceman
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This chart is from OHS and is probably meant for someone working in an environment where they can seek shelter to warm up at regular intervals. Somehow I don't think it applies to field operations as parking the machine in the bush won't allow you the luxury of a warm shelter to warm up at regular intervals. Fortunately it does show some limits that are pretty sobering. Next time you're sitting at a seismic camp with nothing better to do, take the personal challenge and see how long you can stand outside the truck while the engineer keeps warm. see if you can last the time limits on the chart.

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Working in the cold is no doubt more risky. Flying in the mountains on windy days is more risky or heli-skiing with a bus load of Germans, but we still do it every day safley. The fact is be prepared for the conditions and have a saftey net in place. Its not a matter of pushing the elements or calling people stupid because they venture out in the colder weather than most are used to. Its they are prepared and have taken the necessary steps to help thier odds if something should go astray.

 

Good one VX ;-)

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Have worked out in some of the worst weather that canada can throw at you and count myself lucky..even though I went as well prepared as anyone or maybe more being a wrench as well as a driver...the time in the territories in march....whiter than white....-40....old jetbox...only reason I went was my two passengers knew how to survive better than anyone...we worked out on the tundra for a week...hundreds of miles from anywhere...they were relying on me..but I knew if all I did failed I could rely on these guys to get my butt home...always have a backup plan or don't do it....cold will kill you.... :shock:

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Was working northern Ontario few years back surveying with an L1. Now the end of the job..everyone gone home and me stuck in -40C overnight. So, the good employee I am, I park the ac closer to the power source, get out three long extension cords, plug in the battery blanket, 1 heater in the cockpit, 1 heater under the trannie, 2 heaters in the engine, put on that really large cover that kept blowing all over the place because of the 25 knot winds and then I trudge all the cords over to the receptacle. No power. The airport guy tells me he can't get it working. Now I have to go find a REALLY long cord (which I do) and plug it in across an expanse of tarmac. Finally all looks good and everything's working.

 

I come out the next morning to even colder weather thinking I shouldn't have too much trouble getting started. But alas, I quickly find out that everything is extremely cold on the ac. Apparently, one of the airport snowplows didn't see the long yellow cord stretching across the tarmac and decided to pull it some distance and does a fairly good job of ingesting it. So I plug it all back in for another 2 hours then it takes me 2 sets of 3 start attempts (all getting a bit closer each time) to get it going.

 

Once up and running ( for about 10 minutes to get the temps up), I call the tower. The first thing he says 'is everything ok?'. I sad 'why?' He says ' your engine looks like it is on fire'. Apparently he hadn't seen a C28 without the liner running in cold weather after a few attempted starts!

 

Anyway, the moral of the story is, whatever the problems with your aircraft, dress really f#@king warm!!! I couldn't have spent all that time outside monkeying around if I wasn't geared up right. :rolleyes:

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I can't offer any first-hand experience about flying in cold weather, but I'm sure that I'm qualified to make a few suggestion about dressing in cold weather, given the number of nights that I've spent in -40 and below under canvas or in a snow cave.

 

#1. Multi-fuel stoves are great...just make sure that they work at -40. Some stoves have leather or rubber plungers that will no longer work once it gets that cold. Also, make sure that you can operate your stove - don't wait until you're in a tight spot to read the instruction manual.

 

#2. Dressing for the weather is great, but not if you're wearing so many layers that you're sweating. You can be wearing a full-body one-piece nomex and down suit with two layers of Helly Hansen's best stuff underneath...but if you're soaked in sweat, you're still going to die of exposure. Figure out a method that will make sure that you can survive in the cold, but you're not sweating when the heater is on.

 

#3. If it's really cold, chances are that there is a fair amount of snow on the ground. Find out how to build a Quinzee (snow cave). It only takes an hour or three, and two or three guys will manage to keep the temperature close to (or maybe a bit above) freezing with nothing more than body heat. Even better if you've got a couple of those survival candles...downright toasty. The trick is that they're pretty hard to build without a shovel...maybe look at carrying a collapsible aluminum one like they carry at MEC for avalanche rescue. All of this has 2 caveats. Make sure that you've built one in your back yard before you try it in the bush, and PACE YOURSELF...if you work up a serious sweat while building it, you'll still freeze to death.

 

#4. Flashlight. Being in the bush when it's dark (REALLY dark) is enough on it's own to unnerve many people. If you do end up carrying on some survival activities after sunset, a flashlight is a potential lifesaver. Stop by MEC or a similar store, many companies are making very small, very lightweight LED headlamps. the batteries last a LONG time, and the bulbs almost never burn out. Some of them are about the same size and weight as a large wristwatch. Handy thing to have, even in a non-emergency situation.

 

Hopefully some of these ideas have provoked a few thoughts. I know I'd feel a lot safer with a few key items somewhere in the helicopter. You can't prepare for everything, and odds are that you'll never use them...but if you need them, you need them.

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One more thing...I almost forgot.

 

A couple pairs of clean, dry, WOOL socks can potentially save your extremities in cold weather. They can protect your feet, your hands, your neck (tuck them into your collar to provide a scarf), your face (tie two together to form a crude mask), and even the family jewels.

 

Just don't bring cotton socks...they're worse than useless as soon as they get a bit damp.

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here is nothing inherently dangerous about flying down to -54 in a 212 for instance... that's the legal limit provided by the manufacturer.

 

I thought the recommended limit for Jet-A was -45 C (?). Seemed to me that -45 C was thus the 'magic' number for winter ops.

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Well... don't burn an unapproved fuel at the temperature you're working in. So often on this site things get misrepresented... Somehow I (who said I would basically only fly under -45 in an emergency) am now responsible for the crash of numerous american medevac helicopters... And am advocating the uncontrolled use of helicopters in any situation... sheesh!!!!

 

Obey the limits imposed by the manufacturer... and then impose your own limits after weighing all the friggin' details... That's what the responsibility of PIC is all about... it's not about picking up chicks or feeling good about yourself (finally)... It's about having other people's lives in your hands...

 

Always fly safe...

 

HV

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