Give a mouse a cookie? Most of us know this story. Leave a student without supervision? Ditto. You couldn’t say that we were poorly supervised as students at Skyrotors Ltd. There would have had to have been some supervision to define it as poor, or worse.
Our instructors, were for the majority, a well intentioned group who wanted to pass on the benefit of their two years or less in the industry. If this sounds shocking to some of you non-pilots you should know that most helicopter instructors in the United States today have less experience than that. Most have no commercial, real world experience at all. The difference is, today there are senior people (to some degree) at the supervisory levels of all helicopter training schools.
We had nobody. Or to be more accurate, nobody who acted in a supervisory role. The result of no adult supervision was predictable.
Let a dozen or so type “A” 18 to 2o somethings loose with helicopters that they could play with as they pleased and here is what happens:
Note: Some of you reading this may recognize your story (or stories). The fact that you are now respected industry professionals and in more than a few cases, highly placed managers merely shows how far you have progressed. Your names are safe with me.
Could you land a helicopter on top of a train car in motion? The answer turned out to be yes. The Hughes 269 had the most suitable skid gear for this little antic.
So if it worked on train cars, would it work on transport trucks (18 wheelers)? Again, the answer is yes, but the skids leave incriminating scratch marks.
If a hilltop is a pinnacle landing, what do you call setting down lightly on a fire lookout tower? Full points to all of you who said, “a stupid thing to do”.
If skiers can ski down a hill, what can a helicopter with skids do? It can most certainly scare the skiers and shortly there after the fledgling aviator.
Follow the leader. One helicopter behind the other racing down a river is a blast, when you are young and stupid. Pulling up off the river chasing the other in a tight banked turn, over a turkey farm? Not so much fun to explain back at the hangar.
Carrying passengers at the county fair over the weekend? Apparently helps offset the cost of flight instruction.
Flying your parents. Boring. Flying buddies skydiving. More fun. Oh, and give the girls watching on the ground a ride too. Anyone could get lucky with that maneuver.
Somehow we lived through this ridiculous behavior. Most of us went on to become the Chief Pilots and Operations Managers that you can barely visualize laughing, let alone pulling these kind of stunts.
Just remember that most of us old timers made it to where we are through attrition and a timely change in attitude and behavior. Don’t try any stupid stunts while working for us. We have seen way worse.