Gained my PPL(H) 4 years ago in Robinson R44, flew 250+ hours, then went on to AS350 for 100+ hours...
Sold the AS350 last year after I lost a good friend in a heli accident. Driving to the airfield to get back in the squirrel, I just couldn't do it any more.
There are so many risks, so many accidents and so many deaths in the rotor world. I so long to jump in a heli again, its still in my blood, how do you guys keep going when you lose your friends and relations everyday in this industry?
Just as everybody else, in every other industry does.
There aren't actually that many accidents or deaths. I suppose that you do feel them more when you are in the same line of work. I'm not sure that there are more 'risks' in this line of work than any other - there are hazards, of course - but give me the choice of this work or others that I have been involved in, and I'll take this everytime. I'm unlikely to die through falling off a roof, getting hit by a vehicle whilst changing a truck tyre on the hard shoulder, being stabbed / otherwise assaulted / etc. whilst carrying out a career as a Policeman / Fireman / Nurse etc. etc. . I am, however, more likely to be involved in a Helicopter accident than those persons that do not spend all their working lives flying in them. I'll take the risk ( and the 85k) and accept that some of us are just more fortunate than others.
The whole life includes risks etc., f. e. how many folks are loosing their life or health every day on the streets? And you are still driving your car, bike ? I feel more safe in the air than on the streets. To be ironic, most people are dying in their bed and nobody cares about going to bed every evening....
Sorry to read that you feel you have "lost your bottle".Try looking at it from a different angle; don't you think that simply driving to the airfield might be more risky than flying your helicopter?
I do. As a result of attending over 1800 road accidents in the last 6 years, I am now finding the drive to work more and more stressful! Dual carriageways are fine but driving on normal roads facing unknown individuals ( of unknown ability, age, mental stability, health, intoxication, etc) at a closing speeds of 100-120 mph, 2 feet away from me, is beginning to make me a little nervous!
It's a relief to get in the helicopter! (but unlike the beater, only at 47k!)
I've 'lost' a couple of friends in Heli's But 'lost' more friends in cars and motorcycles. Even came close to wiping myself out on a bike more than once. Didn't stop riding after the first or the second
In my case I stopped for a bit and then made a decision. It is always harder when the loss is 'close to home'. We have to be realistic about these things, examine the hows and whys and then try to minimise our risks. As a species we're not designed for a life with no risk.
Me. I've no plans to die due to aviation. If one day I do, rather that than not fly. Statistically the accident rate isn't high, it isn't every day. Accidents in aviation just make the headlines more than the tens of thousands who die each day worldwide by other means.
I feel for you STR8. The stuff about it being more dangerous to drive, or ride, to the aerodrome is all very true but, perhaps this thought will help you most:-
By far the largest cause of helicopter fatalities is pilot error. The more respect you have for your life and thus for your attention to flying well and safely the less chance you have of an "accident". After 35 years at it I'm still wary of making mistakes and poor decisions. I've only had two near things beyond my control; an engine failure which resulted in a good enough landing to kill or injure none of the seven souls on board and a hi-jacking which is a suficiently bizarre event not to register on anyone's "oh shit-ometer".
Please try again.......you know there's nothing on earth to compare with it and you, and only you, can control the risks.
flying since 23 years and stopped counting crashed pilot friends when reaching the number of 15. Have now more than 3000 ambulance missions with a lot of death persons on the streets, in front of trains and so on.
Normally I should stop flying, driving and going with my 1640cc motorcyle 124mph.
The point is: I love to fly and drive!! (and the money around 45000)
If you really want to keep on flying try to reduce risks. Fly by the book. Fly at least at 1000ft GND. Don't fly in lousy weather. Take an aircraft with a good safety record. Keep you and your aircraft in a good shape. Ask for a safety pilot. Don't earn your money as a pilot.
One of the most important thing to do is:
Fly as soon as possible!! Don't allow the problem to block you from doing one of the greatest things in the world.
I thought I may have lost my bottle for flying R22s this weekend. I have 150 hours PPL(H) and about 12 in the last 28 days. While flying this weekend at 3000 feet I began to feel nervous and recognised the early signs of panic. I chanted out loud the check routine to take my mind off the fact that I could hardly turn the darn thing around to return to the field. Once decended to about 1000 feet it seemed better and a safe return landing was effected. Is that vertigo? I am pondering whether or not to continue.
Str8: Get it all the time on Hangliders (lots of hours) but not on Helicopters (a huge 68 hours!).
Last time it happened, a wise and 3000 hour HG pilot walked me round my rigged glider and pointed out the relative strengths of the tubes and components, he pointed out the conditions and that I had flown in such before, he asked me about my flight plan, landing options, soaring pattern and what I would do in various emergencies. He asked me to talk through what my take-off/overshoot technique would be and why.
I realised that half way through he had a look in his eye that said 'You'll be safe, you will enjoy it, you will think through any problems - you big nancy'.
And of course he was right. Talk through your next flight with someone you trust, remember to bring up those small stupid things which worry the cr*p out of use but are a breeze to the high timers, and you'll have a very enjoyable flight.
golfer, I had that feeling in an R22 a few times back when I was hour building, only had a couple of hundred hours at the time, I was up in the mountains at 3000 - 4000 feet in good sunny weather, I thought it was vertigo too, but once I decended down I felt ok again, never had that feeling in any other helicopter since, however I still avoid going up there in R22's Stick at it, if it happens again dont panic, you did the right thing by distracting yourself, eg talk to your passenger about the weather, views etc. and take deep breaths, you will be fine. BC.
I worry, all the time. Despite flying helicopters for a living, there are lots of times when I feel really nervous about it for no apparent reason. It gets worse as I get older.
Realise that it's natural. You're taking part in a potentially dangerous activity, and deep down, you know that. Sometimes no amount of rationalising will help, despite telling yourself that loads of things in life are dangerous.
When this is the case, take a couple of deep breaths to help you calm down, and then just feel the fear. It's actually only your mind playing tricks on you. The more you let your mind run you around, the more it will. If you simply feel it and say, "Oh yes, that's fear again", it'll gradually stop having such a hold on you. It's a bit like a kid being followed by shadows in the dark; if you try to avoid the shadows and pretend they're not there they get bigger and more scary; if you confront them you see them for what they are.
Flying is probably slightly more dangerous than some of the other things people have mentioned, looking at it objectively. But that's not why you're scared, or you'd never have started. You've been hiding from a shadow, which has now taken over your life. Have a look at it, and it won't have any hold over you...though thisd may take a little while, as the fear is now a habit.
I hate taking my R22 up high - I went to 3000 feet once and also experienced vertigo. In my f/w aircraft I have no problem with it, just in the helicopter, so I am pleased I have found somebody else who gets the same effect. I very rarely go over 2000 feet or so in the R22 now and don't get the problem.
A few years ago I happened upon an article in a trade magazine, I believe it was Business & Commercial Aviation, which discussed the US Dept. of Labor annual report on the 20 most dangerous professions, measured in number of fatalities per 100,000 active practitioners of each profession. Interesting reading indeed.
For instance, law enforcement was not and had never been on that list. Big letdown for avid watchers of “Cops” and such. Neither was firefighting. But….
Pilots/navigators were in the top three every year! And this includes the vast number of supposedly very safe airline pilots! Therefore the statistics for the non-airline section of professional pilots (CFIs, crop dusters, air taxi and yes, helicopter pilots) must be terrible to get the whole profession in the top three most dangerous jobs year after year.
I was warned of this by those professional analyzers of relative risks, insurance brokers, when looking for life insurance. After several months’ searching, only Winterthur, a Swiss insurance company, was found willing to write life insurance for a professional helicopter pilot.
I keep climbing into that cockpit day after day for a – to me – very good reason: I like flying helicopters and am proud of my profession. The rational part of me, the part that compares product prices in the supermarket, is very aware that this infatuation is putting me at greater-than-average risk but submits.
Like other posters, I have lost friends to crashes. Some of them were true role models, the kind of professionals I strive to be, and their deaths confirmed to me that this occupation is risky even for the best amongst us.
str8, from your post it appears your flying was strictly for fun. If the fun has gone out of it there is NO REASON AT ALL for you to get back in the cockpit. After all the work and dedication you put into gaining your PPL and owning and running two aircraft, leaving the cockpit cannot have been an easy decision and anyone who thinks this decision classifies you as a wimp is an idiot. If, however, your life is not complete without flight, then your best support network (pardon the yoofspeak) are your fellow aviators. The most experienced instructors in particular will have gone through similar experiences and are by definition people persons, so I’d advice you to have a long private talk with the CFI you most respect.
I don't know if this will help or is even relevant but here goes.
Last year as some of you know, I had a close shave (thanks to an errant engine and some clouds obscuring the ground). The full story of that is in the Scariest moment in a helo thread.
I didn't realise it had bothered me until a week later, we had arranged to borrow another aircraft of the same type for me to take the boss home.
I arrived in good time (about 2hrs early) to collect the aircraft and put my gear in it. I walked out onto the apron and as I approached the helicopter I felt quite strange, I opened the door and found myself looking for something to find wrong with the helicopter (which had been A checked by an engineer, and was in a very good state of repair as it always is). I went back into the ops dept a couple of times, trying to find a reason not to go.
I was due to depart at about 1730 (just before dark) and go to Battersea. The phone goes and we are delayed.
So now my first trip after last weeks crisis is in the dark in a machine i've flown once before and I don't want to go.
I found myself in a very strange place where I know that last weeks experience is not the norm, but the effort involved in getting back in the pilots was one of the hardest things i've ever done.
I did end up going, I took the helicopter out into the local area and just did a little bit of general handling, but i was still working very hard the
unconscious competence (I think thats what they call it) had gone, I was back flying like a 100hr PPL(don't start and argument over this I know what I mean i.e. can do it, but working hard). Get to Battersea. Sorry we are full they say , can you land on one end of the platform and shutdown (deep joy, normally no problem).
I walked into the 'Terminal' at Battersea, spotted a couple of familiar faces pretended everything was ok and calmed down.
That was the last time I had any trouble with it. I got back into the helicopter and departed Batts about half an hour later. Flew an hour and a half to destination and chatted it over with the Boss. It was good to have someone (anyone) to talk to about it.
I now understand why a lot of people recommend 'Getting back in the saddle' with someone you know or someone more experienced.
I can also appreciate why some people choose not to carry on flying after such an event.
I can genuinely say that I had no idea that I was going to feel apprehensive as I walked out the aircraft that afternoon, and If I had known I'd have gone out and done a couple of circuits with one of the boys during the week. But you do live and learn. I think my judgement was probably clouded that day, and I just didn't realise it.
If you want to chat about it, PM me and I'll bend your ear over it.
I am now very glad that i've kept doing what I do, and I do know that none of us is invincible, but a lot of the things that can go wrong you can train for and deal with when they do happen.
Thats about as honest an admission of cowardice you'll ever get from a helicopter pilot.
Builtenzorg makes a good point above, the only right decision is the one you make for you.
i agree completely with Whirlybird and Buitenzorg, we could wrap ourselves in cotton wool but life would be very boring. The seperate thread running reminds me of another thread about vertigo, it is a more common problem than you would imagine. I think the slower speed of the r22 at alititude gives a feeling of balancing on a knife edge or a pinnacle, the faster aircraft don't give that feeling as it still looks and feels like you are moving forward. I used to shy away from 4 or 5 k, but now i get all the altitude i can.
I'm surprised that any professional pilot can refer to flying (any type) as dangerous. Hazardous, yes; but dangerous? Perhaps I'm missing something, but if I thought that I was in a 'dangerous' profession, I would (being a wimp), leave. For now, I'll just keep dodging the hazards.
Thanks guys for the info and opinions. We always assume we are the only person to experience such events as I did last weekend when I felt queezy at 3000 feet in the R22 but it is reassuring to know that I am not alone. Having read the views and other thread referred to I have put all thoughts of not flying again out of my head and will fly this weekend but only up to 2000 feet! Thanks everyone.
I feel safer with the height - more options and time to sort things out if anything does go wrong.
I do know about the 'panic' though - I was flying an old heap today which keeps throwing off pitch - stop paying attention for a moment and it was all over the place. The amount of friction needed to keep it steady wasn't a level I would have been happy to have on in an emergency, so you had to live with it!
All of these years I thought I was just paranoid. After reading this now I know that I'm not alone. Every now and then I'll get up to 300 feet in a turn but I get back down just as soon as I can. barryb