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Why do choppers fly so low?

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Why do choppers fly so low?

Old 15th Aug 2019, 02:47
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Why do choppers fly so low?

Recently I was on a chopper out of Grand Canyon to Bar 10 Ranch, AZ. Both choppers (Bell 206) that took our group out flew very low, maybe 30-40 feet AGL. Very exciting. Why do they fly so low?
NB: not a complaint; as a crappy fixed-wing pilot, I know zip about choppers.
Thanks.
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Old 15th Aug 2019, 05:33
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That doesn't sound that low
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Old 15th Aug 2019, 07:14
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Because they can. Remember, it is safer to stop and land opposed the other way round.
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Old 15th Aug 2019, 07:20
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Part of the answer!



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Old 15th Aug 2019, 08:45
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BECAUSE IT IS FUN......................
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Old 15th Aug 2019, 09:25
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There is no issue with height velocity curve in the cruise .... especially in the 206 . It is mainly relevant for very slow flying or hovering as you have to trade height for speed ..... if you are going faster you already have the speed and can actually trade some speed for more height even with no power . Anyway , I am sure they knew what they were doing !!
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Old 15th Aug 2019, 09:41
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Originally Posted by nigelh View Post
There is no issue with height velocity curve in the cruise .... especially in the 206 . It is mainly relevant for very slow flying or hovering as you have to trade height for speed ..... if you are going faster you already have the speed and can actually trade some speed for more height even with no power . Anyway , I am sure they knew what they were doing !!
IF...you react quickly enough! It doesnt sound like a great plan to me if they are really at 40 ft in the cruise. Thats something we would not even have done in the military. Its not just engine failures to consider - there are plenty of other eventualities which can spoil your day if you are tanking around ultra low-level.
Sounds like a bunch of cowboys to me. (Maybe thats why they were going to the ranch!)
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Old 15th Aug 2019, 10:03
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Originally Posted by nigelh View Post
There is no issue with height velocity curve in the cruise .... especially in the 206 . It is mainly relevant for very slow flying or hovering as you have to trade height for speed ..... if you are going faster you already have the speed and can actually trade some speed for more height even with no power . Anyway , I am sure they knew what they were doing !!
I would doubt that many have had a lot of practice with an auto at low-level.
It is easy to say it is a non-event because the curve says its fine.
Pulling it off over uneven, rugged terrain could be an interesting experience.
Apart from a fear of heights, they fly low because it is cool and creates an experience, not because it is wise to do so.
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Old 15th Aug 2019, 10:16
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Originally Posted by cooperplace View Post
Very exciting.
... is the answer. You paid for a thrill, and the demand was satisfied. Other, less exciting, forms of rotary flight are available.
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Old 15th Aug 2019, 10:27
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We donít know what terrain they were flying over . Are we now all saying that flying at 40-50ft is unacceptably dangerous ? I accept that 2-300ft would be potentially safer but then 1,000ft would be safer than that .... maybe it should also be in a twin to make it even safer ? What they should really do is put a strip in at both ends and use a plane ... that would be even safer .
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Old 15th Aug 2019, 12:23
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Thats something we would not even have done in the military.
Errrrr......yes we did....in my military.

It was called "Contour Flying" and was a standard technique done by the US Army.
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Old 15th Aug 2019, 12:43
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Originally Posted by SASless View Post
Errrrr......yes we did....in my military.

It was called "Contour Flying" and was a standard technique done by the US Army.
Ours, too.
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Old 15th Aug 2019, 13:00
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Originally Posted by helicrazi View Post
That doesn't sound that low
actually at times it was lower, like 20 feet.
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Old 15th Aug 2019, 13:01
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Originally Posted by SASless View Post
Errrrr......yes we did....in my military.

It was called "Contour Flying" and was a standard technique done by the US Army.
Yep, they were following the contours.
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Old 15th Aug 2019, 14:39
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I am sure that we have all indulged in a bit of low flying at some time. But having had a scare on my very first helicopter flight (in a Bell 47 with no doors on when the pilot put in an unecessary steep banked turn without telling me) I always ask my passengers if they want anything other than a nice, gentle, scenic flight. If one of them looks nervous then I fly carefully. I have heard so many tales from people who tell me horror stories about their first (and only) helicopter flight when they were scared witless by some moron of a pilot showing off when they only took the flight to get a better view of the scenery.

Last edited by Same again; 15th Aug 2019 at 15:06.
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Old 15th Aug 2019, 14:43
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Originally Posted by cooperplace View Post
Recently I was on a chopper out of Grand Canyon to Bar 10 Ranch, AZ. Both choppers (Bell 206) that took our group out flew very low, maybe 30-40 feet AGL. Very exciting. Why do they fly so low?
NB: not a complaint; as a crappy fixed-wing pilot, I know zip about choppers.
Thanks.
I have no idea why that flight was not conducted at a higher altitude, except, as posted elsewhere, 'it's fun'.
A fair few operators (everybody I've ever worked for) have minimum en route altitudes that vary from 300' to 1000' AGL.
Over the decades of my career, I've asked pilots why they fly low and gotten answers like 'why waste time in a climb?' and 'I want to be low in case of a main gear box emergency.'
Me? I want to see more than you can see flying NOE or contour or whatever you want to call it. My rule of thumb was a hundred feet up for every minute en route.
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Old 15th Aug 2019, 15:10
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Maybe I should mention that Whitmore Wash, where we left the Canyon, is about 2000' AMSL, while Bar 10 is I think 4100'. So they do some climbing in this 8-minute trip. Also they do it all the time so they're v familiar with the terrain. They didn't particularly strike me as cowboys, and I've met a few in my time in aviation. But of course I know zip about choppers.
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Old 15th Aug 2019, 15:19
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Devil49

So after two hours of flying you end up at 12.000 feet???
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Old 15th Aug 2019, 15:25
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Originally Posted by cooperplace View Post
Maybe I should mention that Whitmore Wash, where we left the Canyon, is about 2000' AMSL, while Bar 10 is I think 4100'. So they do some climbing in this 8-minute trip. Also they do it all the time so they're v familiar with the terrain. They didn't particularly strike me as cowboys, and I've met a few in my time in aviation. But of course I know zip about choppers.
I've met a couple chopper pilots who were affraid of heights, so,...?
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Old 15th Aug 2019, 15:32
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In my experience most nervous passengers are much happier flying low ...... also there is no indication that they were throwing it around ! Some on here will just criticise for the sake of it .... usually making some point about their superior mil training !! ( not however so far in this instance!)
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