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Thanks from a grateful heli driver

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Thanks from a grateful heli driver

Old 16th Jul 2019, 20:56
  #1 (permalink)  
Thread Starter
Join Date: Aug 2000
Location: SW England
Age: 67
Posts: 1,354
Thanks from a grateful heli driver

Folks, I learned as I turned finals this afternoon that I was on my last flight after 43 years in the trade. Fittingly, the airport where I was approaching has an example of the first type I flew in 1976 (a Jet Provost T3a) sitting in a field on short finals, even more fittingly propping-up a disused (I hope) septic tank. After training on the JP I was delighted to get my first choice - rotary - and have been flying fling-wing ever since.

From the very beginning I have been helped through my aviation exploits by professional air traffic controllers, a description that quite a few of the readers here should recognise as pertaining to themselves. The fact that a good number have also given my crew and me reasons to smile on many an occasion has been a bonus.

It's always wrong to pick out particular occasions, but as I'm of the pilot persuasion I'm used to being wrong. My time on the Northern Lighthouse Board Bolkows and EC135s, mostly as Redhead 12 and 14, was made immeasurably better by the reassuring presence of Scottish Info, 2 of whom I was able to meet at Plockton when they brought their Cessna floatplane in on a well-earned week off. I would credit the lovely people at London Information with being every bit as patient, kind and helpful as their Scottish equivalents. In my last incarnation before retirement flying yellow powerline EC135s, I have always enjoyed transitting through or past the airspace looked-after by Gloucester, Newquay, Cardiff, Oxford, Doncaster, Brum and East Midlands. I'd single out the last 2 for special mention: Brum for its Air Traffickers ability to handle transits by pesky VFR helis under conditions mere humans would find impossible, and East Mids not only for being almost on a par with Brum but also for having 2 of the best voices that can be heard anywhere on UK ATC frequencies.

I appreciate that it's not always plain sailing in your world - I once popped-up to the tower at Filton a week before they closed to say thanks to the folk there, and found out that the supervisor had only arrived there a year or so earlier having been at Plymouth until the closure of THAT airfield. It also turned out that he only lived a stone's throw away from me in the West Devon town to which C-in-C Domestic and I will be moving back in a fortnight's time. He was also able to resolve a mystery for me: I'd been on shift with the Devon Air Ambulance over Christmas one year, then just into the next month I was flying a team up to the UK's most northerly Shetland lighthouse (Muckle Flugga) when I heard a voice on frequency at Scatsta that I was certain had been at Plymouth a fortnight before. He confirmed that it was indeed the same Air Traffic Controller, and entertained me with a dit about a Honda Civic I could use to confirm identity when next speaking.

Finally, my last home base - Bristol. The care, courtesy and consideration our home base provides have made operating out of the south side a pleasure. Even when undergoing spirited post-flight email conversations with Green Watch, it has always been apparent that Bristol ATC are doing all they can with the resources at their disposal to make things work for everyone. It's not their fault that someone put a mostly-day-VFR helicopter outfit on their airfield 56 years ago (apparently the unit was offered space at Portishead, but the then-Chief Pilot lived just down the road from Lulsgate so that's where the unit was based). I never felt more welcome than I did when returning to base this evening after 5.2 hours, most of which had been down at 30 feet among the treetops of Leicestershire and Northants, and I very much appreciate the kind messages passed by Radar and Tower. I am obliged to you

yours gratefully, Electricity 13
Thud_and_Blunder is offline  
Old 17th Jul 2019, 06:45
  #2 (permalink)  
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Berkshire, UK
Age: 77
Posts: 8,268
Good luck and God Bless for a long and happy retirement..
Old 17th Jul 2019, 07:05
  #3 (permalink)  
Join Date: Dec 2001
Location: Peoples' Democratic Republic of Wurzelsetshire
Age: 51
Posts: 1,182
On behalf of both Green Watch and the rest of the unit, Iíd like to wish you a long and happy retirement, hopefully we didnít make the day job too difficult!
At the units where Iíve worked in my 27 years in my career, WPD has been the most professional and helpful rotary outfit Iíve had the pleasure of dealing with. Always helpful, always willing to fit in and very aware of their surroundings at all times (which is a bonus for any ATCO given many pilotís ability to not see further than the end of their own aircraftís nose cone/prop). Itís always an easy Ďteachí to trainees that they can trust WPD to do what they say and do what we ask, without having to worry about what happens next.

Good of luck wherever life takes you, sir!
Standard Noise is offline  
Old 17th Jul 2019, 08:16
  #4 (permalink)  
Join Date: Aug 2010
Location: UK
Age: 65
Posts: 60
Starting in a JP is impressive, I thought you'd have had time in something like a chippy first though. But what made you go from a JP to rotary, that would seem like backward step to most people

To be picky, I hate the phrase "finals" as you are either turning onto final approach or are already on final approach, hence the term "final" (singular), unless of course you're talking about your final exams, commonly referred to as "finals" (plural)
golfbananajam is offline  
Old 17th Jul 2019, 09:03
  #5 (permalink)  

Avoid imitations
Join Date: Nov 2000
Location: Wandering the FIR and cyberspace often at highly unsociable times
Posts: 13,728
Yes, you are being picky, especially as a "final" rejoinder to a pilot politely and modestly saying thanks to ATC on the occasion of his retirement!

Speaking as another pilot from Thud's "All Jet" era at RAF BFTS (I too carried out my RAF basic flying training, straight from civvie street onto the JP) "Finals" is just a throwback to the correct military call, as in "Finals, three greens". I do now say "Final" and don't bother saying the "Gear Down" part, but it is easy to fall back on what we were used to saying for twenty odd years.
ShyTorque is offline  
Old 17th Jul 2019, 09:48
  #6 (permalink)  
Thread Starter
Join Date: Aug 2000
Location: SW England
Age: 67
Posts: 1,354
No problem with the pickiness, golfbananajam - I should have known better. Just because something is habitual doesn't make it right; cf the change from "overshoot" to "go around" that so many mil colleagues seemed to struggle with for decades. Shoving an 's' on the end of something to abbreviate a full phrase is just lazy - ask the residents of various island groups around the UK how they like their homes to be referred to as Scillies, Orkneys or Shetlands. I was still reviewing CAP413 up to the end, and was delighted to learn from one of the very competent trainees going through qualification at Bristol that I had been referring to a VRP to the NW by entirely the wrong name; teaching is often a 2-way process.

I count myself as being very lucky to have gone straight onto the JP - if I'd had to cope with tailwheels, tandem seating and 3 different controls just to make the aircraft go forward (throttle, mixture and prop pitch) I doubt I'd have made it past the first hurdle. Rotary was very much a forward move and a natural progression; the low-flying part of the JP course was by far the most enjoyable, and on Wessex, Hueys/AB205s, Chinooks and B212s we worked with the smartest weapons in the inventory. The money may be better in the aluminium-tube world, but I was lucky enough to wake up each work-day morning and actually look forward to my flying (autopilots aren't much use at 30 feet, although auto-trim does ease the workload on the coolie-hat thumb).

My thanks again.
Thud_and_Blunder is offline  

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