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PPL (H) Continue or not

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PPL (H) Continue or not

Old 19th Sep 2007, 22:50
  #1 (permalink)  
Thread Starter
Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: Scotland
Posts: 3
Question PPL (H) Continue or not

I have been training to fly over the last two years (on and off due to work commitments) with an R22. I really enjoy the flying and in fact have now purchased my own 22 . My passion to fly helicopters is purely for pleasure. I have just finished my cross country a few weeks ago and am now getting ready to do my skill test.

The problem that I have is that I am questioning myself as to continue flying or not. This has only become an issue within the last seven days due to the unfortunate events in Lanark last weekend. I have clearly considered the potential hazards in aviation from the outset of my training, and up until now it hasn't bothered or had any effect on me. The tragic outcome of last weekend has had a pretty major impact on myself and my family and we cannot begin to understand what the families of the deceased are going through just now.

I find myself at a crossroads in my flying, and I am being questioned from my wife, parents and my sons as to why I would wish to risk myself for the sake of what is seen by my family as a hobby. I wonder if any other pilots have encountered a similar situation. Am I being totally selfish here if I contune with flying when all of my family don't approve. In addition my family have confirmed that they will not fly when I get the licence.
smtp is offline  
Old 19th Sep 2007, 23:21
  #2 (permalink)  

Hovering AND talking
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Location: Propping up bars in the Lands of D H Lawrence and Bishop Bonner
Age: 55
Posts: 5,711
Continue. There are more helicopter pilots alive than there are who have died flying. Have a read of the accident reports and learn from the mistakes; they are meant as lessons to us all.

Safety is paramount and if you strive to be a safe pilot, then no-one should refuse a ride with you.

My husband once said he'd never fly with me, as he'd flown with many high-houred professionals but, once he'd listened to the testimonial of a friend who did fly with me, he changed his tune!

I read recently of the death of an acquaintance, John Garnons Williams, a skilled and experienced pilot who died in a tragic helicopter accident. Yes, it put me off, it bothered me that such an experienced chap could lose his life in such a manner but it has made think more of the safety aspects of flying.

People die in cars, they die on motorbikes, they die on farms and in factories. Don't take chances, don't think "it won't happen to me"; don't succumb to "press-on-it-is!

I doubt whether there is a pilot here who hasn't had doubts and, if there is, then I ain't sure I want to fly with him. We all have them. It's what keeps us alive - and equally applicable on the roads!

If you're good enough to pass the skills test, then I'll put my money where my mouth is, and I'll be your pax! And I don't have a Robbie rating!!!!


Whirlygig is offline  
Old 19th Sep 2007, 23:32
  #3 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jun 2002
Location: Florida/Sandbox/UK
Posts: 322
If you are close to finishing your PPL(H), I would recommend that you go for it, otherwise all your effort has been for nothing.

HOWEVER....2 years to get through the PPL due to work commitments tells me that you don't have a lot of time to take this as seriously as you need to. It is a hobby but it's not a game and you have to remain proficient. If you can't remain proficient then you should get an instructor to fly with you when you want to fly.

Don't be discouraged by last week's unsolved tragedy, just heed the warning.

Helicopters have associated dangers, you can stay on top of most of them by remaining proficient. If your family perceive a high level of proficiency in you, they'll fly with you, if they don't, maybe they're right.

Good luck, take it seriously.

hihover is offline  
Old 19th Sep 2007, 23:34
  #4 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jun 2005
Location: Earth.
Posts: 462
It's a fact of life that people are injured and possibly killed in flying accidents. I personally, like many others on here no doubt, have had several friends envolved in accidents and I kept going.

Dozens of people each day are killed in road accidents, but does that stop you from driving? Because the industry is so small accidents like CM's one at the weekend and others make big news, unlike the person who drove in to a lamp post at the end of your street. Yes, it is a kick in the backside when we hear of a helicopter accident, but we should learn from it and continue to inprove our skills as pilots.

Carry on smpt, I did.

TiPwEiGhT is offline  
Old 19th Sep 2007, 23:35
  #5 (permalink)  
Join Date: Nov 2005
Location: UK
Posts: 281
Welcome to the forum!

Have to agree with Whirlygig, Its understandable that your family may have had that reaction, its been a bad few days for aviation in general and the death of a high profile personality like Colin McRae in a crash also unsettles the general public when it comes to helicopters, but your family and friends may change their minds after a while, when they have had time to think about it rationally and reflect.
After all, as Whirls points out, look how many fatal road accidents there are every day compared to helicopter ones, yet do you know of anyone who refuses to get in a car and go to work or drive on the motorway the next day?
Stick with it, if we sat and thought about all the possible accidents that could happen us, we would end up in a padded room and never go out!

Good luck with the rest of your training..
Bladecrack is offline  
Old 19th Sep 2007, 23:37
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Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: UK
Age: 56
Posts: 240
I think many ppl(h)s have been questioned whenever a high profile accident happens, and question themselves.

We don't know what happened to his squirrel helicopter, however my own wife has recently had her friends asking her why she 'lets' me fly, and more importantly why she allows me to take our teenage daughters up with me.

The answer ultimately comes down to your own view of how you live your life and what you expose your family to. Everything you do carries a risk, from crossing the road to traveling on a motorway or getting in a passenger jet. You have to judge whether your family situation and the the risks you have taken to achieve a financial stability which permits you to fly helicopters now precludes you from risky activities so you can protect the position of your family and your own life. The logical conclusion of the 'safe' path is that you take less and less risks the more financial stability you have. That's not a life.

Personally, I think the risk is pretty low for someone who cautiously flies R22s or any well built helicopter in good weather, in daylight, maintaining over 500ft AGL at all times, and who intends to remain within their own and their aircraft's capabilities. But the risk is there, and can't be ignored: it's akin to becoming a born-again motorcyclist in your 40's. The more hours you achieve, the lower the risk. If you want to make life safer, R44s have more rotor inertia, and a Raven II eliminates carb-icing. It's just more cash.

My view, which I have talked about with my wife, is that I don't want to live a totally risk-free life, and I don't want to teach my children that risk is something to be avoided at all costs. I love flying, I understand the risks and try to fly well within my capabilities. I undertake regular training updates to make sure I have not picked up bad habits, and ensure I practice autos with an instructor monthly. If the small risks I take ultimately cost me my life, clearly there will be people who think I was a fool. There will be others who think I lived a full life doing the things I wanted to do and teaching my kids that 'life is there to be lived'.

Until I had about 200 hours, I was scared every time I turned the key in the helicopter. That faded with more hours.

My advice is to talk to other pilots about your concerns, but ultimately, if you want to fly, you have to face the fact that what has happened is that the small risk he ran has actually occurred (ignoring why), the consequences were severe, and it could happen to you. Your next business deal could also bankrupt you, or an injudicious act or statement could see you sued and broken. You could walk in front of a bus. You could drop dead from a sudden hemorrhage (sp?) next month (as nearly happened to a friend of mine). Next year you may contract cancer.

Accept (mitigated) risks and achieve things you want in life, or wrap yourself in cotton wool, achieve less but potentially increase your chance of longevity. It's your decision: I know what mine is!

bladewashout is offline  
Old 19th Sep 2007, 23:48
  #7 (permalink)  

The Original Whirly
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Location: Belper, Derbyshire, UK
Posts: 4,331
One thing is guaranteed - life is invariably fatal.

Thousands have people have died in the last few days - in bed, in their homes, on the roads, in woods and beaches, in the air, etc etc. No prizes for guessing which ones made headline news, and which ones were of interest to no-one but the loved ones of the deceased.

It's your choice as to whether you let your life be governed by sensation-seeking media reports.
Whirlybird is offline  
Old 20th Sep 2007, 03:14
  #8 (permalink)  
Join Date: May 2005
Location: Missouri, USA
Age: 54
Posts: 235
continue or not

I think at one time or another every pilot has the same thoughts as you're having right now. Since you have already overcome the biggest obstacle to training, the cost, I encourage you to push on to obtain your PPL. At that point, if you're not enjoying yourself and are overly concerned you can move on to other areas of enjoyment. I have a feeling that by that time you will reach a point where the fun has really set in and you're a whole lot more comfortable flying.

When I was working toward my PPL it was a lot more work than it was fun. Once you have the pressure of the checkride behind you the fun factor really kicks in and your confidence is at a point where you feel competent to fly the machine.

p.s. If you do move on to other hobbies and sell the R22....you'd shoot me a helluva price, right?
Gerhardt is offline  
Old 20th Sep 2007, 04:19
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Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: Australia
Age: 47
Posts: 698
I might be the first to point this out... errrr, ummm, did you think about this BEFORE buiying your own helicopter?!

Just teasing!

I too experienced a tiny wee bit of "crapping myself" everytime I hopped in my faithful wee H269... enough to keep me alive which I think is healthy!

(having said that I'm a very, very low hour Helo pilot, Whirls and the like will be better qualified to answer this, as they have)

I also take my kids flying, both fixed and helo. I must admit there have been times when I've looked over at their little faces, and thought "geez - if I f k up or suddenly develop some pulmonory disease up here - that's it. There's nuthin they can do to save themselves."

But, as Whirls said:

There are more helicopter pilots alive than there are who have died flying. Have a read of the accident reports and learn from the mistakes; they are meant as lessons to us all.
I think as long as you remain sensible & levelheaded (when flying anyway!) then you will get years of pure, adrenalin filled fun!


Last edited by kiwi chick; 20th Sep 2007 at 04:20. Reason: ooops spelling mistake...
kiwi chick is offline  
Old 20th Sep 2007, 07:31
  #10 (permalink)  
Thread Starter
Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: Scotland
Posts: 3
Continue or not

Hi Whirls

Many thanks for your reply.

May I via this thread say many thanks to you and the others for giving me a bit of reassurance to continue with my flying. I find the replies very helpful and this makes me realise that perhaps I am not totally alone with my thoughts during this period of uncertainty. I really enjoy my flying and was very proud of myself to get the cross country completed, as I am sure you will all remember the day you reached this stage in your flying career. I am meeting with my CFI in a day or so to discuss my situation and I will now be a lot more focused on the positive before we talk things through.

In reply to a few points that was raised, yes I have taken my time with the flying 2 yrs +. This is simply due to lack of time, I run a very busy business that involves a lot of travelling and unfortunately has meant gaps in flying at some times in the past of 6-8 weeks at worst, so not ideal but I have made the most of my time available more recently flying 2- 3 times per week.

The Future

My aim has always been to change the 22 for a 44 Raven 2. I was planning to get my 44 rating as soon as licence issued and fly maybe 50 ish hours with the 22 then move on to the 44. It looks like if I continue with my flying I will be flying alone with no family members, but maybe/hopefully given time my family will gain more confidence and share this fantastic experience with me.

Again, many thanks to you all for the reassuring replies.


smtp is offline  
Old 20th Sep 2007, 07:44
  #11 (permalink)  
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: scotland
Posts: 207
Well SMTP welcome to the world of normality. I don't think there's a heli pilot out there that this and other accidents hasn't stopped and made them think. I did a similar thing to yourself in buying a 22 for my training and now I have a 44. Even before this accident I had friends who said ...."you'll never get me up in that thing!" and low and behold they did based upon comments from other people who had been up with me. I see whirlygig has had a similar experience. I live in Strathaven, sat at a table opposite Colin and his wife the Saturday before the crash at a charity ball and the profile of the accident, ie taking his son and his pal and his own friend up is EXACTLY what I have done with my daughter on numerous occasions. I felt physically sick when I heard it as it was so close to home in more ways than one.

I also know that if I'd told my wife that I was giving up my flying hobby and buying a bigger boat she would have been delighted! I flew yesterday for the first time after the accident due to work commitments and I realised why I do it and why I will continue to do it....its just great.

My advice is to continue with your test and if you want a pilot to sit next to you I'm happy to oblige. Equally if you want a jolly in a 44 perhaps with some members of your familly to reassure them, I'm happy to oblige there also. This was such a tragic accident, so was the Concorde that crashed in France but we cannot live our lives in a "what if" culture. Fly and stick to some strict personal parameters in the early days and you'll be fine.

PM me if I can be of any help.
bvgs is offline  
Old 20th Sep 2007, 08:13
  #12 (permalink)  
Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: London
Posts: 44
SMTP (I.T. huh.. now I know how you can afford your own robbie lol...)

I have been riding Motorbikes since I was 15. Your family are reacting to a very sad and highly publicised event. They will get over it..

I attended my friends funeral the other week as he was clipped on his M/C on the M25 just past Clackett Lane Services. I still ride and the pressure is high still as my Mum and my partner knew him.

For some it is in their blood. M/C is for me and since my first flight, so have helicopters been.. well flying full stop TBH.

Anyway, what I mean to say is that I have been there with loved ones way too many times after the tragic deaths of friends... They normally get over it given time and patience.

You have to have your dreams otherwise what is the point? Just keep that healthy level of caution and double check everything..

On a lighter note.. If you do decide to give it up.. You may want to let Whirlygig have a few hrs in your Robbie first :-)) Or if you just want to keep it, I am certain you will have no shortage of offers to keep the Robbie running....

ScrumpyLuvver is offline  
Old 20th Sep 2007, 09:25
  #13 (permalink)  
Join Date: Aug 2007
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Some very interesting points have been discussed here but what it comes down to, IMHO, is the assessment of risk and looking at why we do things. Flying of any means is still by far the safest method of travel. As has been mentioned, hundreds of people die every day on the roads - ISTR the comparison that roughly a 747 load die each day. Imagine the outcry if a jumbo crashed every day, but the fatalities happen individually so no-one notices. I can only speak for myself but after a good few years flying fixed wing, the challenge of rotary flight was what attracted me. Coming from an aircraft that wanted to fly to something that had to be very carefully persuaded and would throw itself at the ground and kill you if you didn't pay attention, felt like climbing Everest but the satisfaction when everything came together was just fantastic. If there's an ongoing conversation I have with myself (and she who must be obeyed), it's justifying the expense of rotary flight. The late Adam Faith once commented something to the effect that you end up visiting friends with large gardens for tea on Sundays. Other than that just aim to be the best pilot you can be, work on your skills and NEVER take anything for granted. Sorry to go on for so long but hope this helps.
r44raven is offline  
Old 20th Sep 2007, 09:55
  #14 (permalink)  
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Land of damp and drizzle
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To put this in a very blunt manner, would you rather risk dieing doing something you love or risk living the rest of your life wishing you'd had a go?

Which is not to say the risk is that high, if you fly within your capabilities and those of your machine, make sure the machine is properly checked and maintained, etc etc.

My partner and parents (and family) were initially a bit upset when I started flying. Ditto when I started riding motorbikes. Ditto when I learnt to skydive while at school (my partner missed that one). Ultimately, though, they saw how happy all those things made me, how seriously I take safety, and now support me 110% - we've just got back from a holiday in South Africa with my parents, where I took them all flying.

Hang in there - only you can decide it's not for you, and it does keep getting better!
Pandalet is offline  
Old 20th Sep 2007, 10:26
  #15 (permalink)  
Red On, Green On
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Carry on flying, and be responsible. I don't mean doing all your checks, though clearly that's vital. Make sure that you are properly and fully covered by insurance, that your will is up to date, etc. Should the very worst happen, (and it might be in an RTA, or crossing the road) your loved ones will be secure.
airborne_artist is offline  
Old 20th Sep 2007, 10:36
  #16 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jan 2001
Location: UK
Posts: 164
Have to say what a good thread this is.

As a fixed wing pilot who then got a PPL(H) 3 years ago, I can fully appreciate where smtp is coming from.

I fly a lot fixed wing, but unfortunately, this year have hardly been near an R22, (much to my own annoyance). During the previous years, I always took one out at least once or twice per week, and focused on things like hovering, spot turns, landings, etc.. as well as simply flying around. In my opinion, rotary flying is much more of a perishable skill than fixed wing flying is, and it needs to be practiced on a regular basis.

A lot of good advice has been given to smtp on this thread, and I must say, I think it's also spurred me on to re-initiate myself with the R22, (albeit through an instructor in the first instance).

smtp - you are at this moment, current; if, on reading the good advice on this thread you do decide to continue with your flying, my advice is to make sure that you retain that currency. It's so easy to let it slip, (and your confidence with it).

Happy flying
ariel is offline  
Old 20th Sep 2007, 11:15
  #17 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jan 2001
Location: UK
Age: 66
Posts: 1,368
Been down the same road as you, and then helped a number of others to do the same (as an instructor). Lots of good advice in the pevious posts.

Once you have your licence, do keep yourself properly current. Any skill will perish if it is not used. Make regular use of an instructor that you like flying with to practice emergencies that you do not practice by yourself.

Do some post PPL training Paris/London heliroutes, mountain flying etc.

You will enjoy your flying more and become a better pilot too
Helinut is offline  
Old 20th Sep 2007, 11:18
  #18 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jun 2006
Location: In the air with luck
Posts: 998
Fear is good, it keeps us alive, no fear we take risks which can kill.
The amount of fear\caution is the key to it all.
Proficiency is the key to safe flying more so in helicopters.
I have been closer to death in a boat on 2 occasions, 1 in a force 10 with broken mast,( over confidence regarding boat and me) the other through my stupidity.
500e is offline  
Old 20th Sep 2007, 14:55
  #19 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Abingdon uk
Age: 55
Posts: 28
Improve your safety - keep on training

Hello SMTP

I understand your concern - the girl friend has concerns after the events of the last few days.

I suggest that you :-

get your licence

learn from the mistakes/situations that other have found themselves in by talking to experienced pilots and reading accident reports (hide these from the wife)

continue your training - an hour with the CFI once a month doing various emergencies may leave you feeling inadequate (it does me !) but you will be a better pilot for it.

REMEMBER - when you are old and in a home sat there wetting yourself you will only have your memories so make them good ones !


Lost Again is offline  
Old 20th Sep 2007, 15:26
  #20 (permalink)  
Posts: n/a
When I was learning to fly, and not quite at a solo stage. 10 people were killed in heli's in 1 week, including the local Agriculture pilot that I used to see flying almost daily.
That really scared me, to the point of giving up.
4 months later I was missing it so much, went back and started again. Few thousand hrs later I am so glad I continued, I have a smile on my face everyday! I couldn't be doing anything else.
Whirls is right, read the accident reports, as there are no new ways to have a prang. Dont get freaked out by the reports, they are a good learning tool.
Get that PPL, take Whirls for a flight, enjoy the freedom. (not with Whirls, the flying I mean )
And "keep it in the green"!!!!!!

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