My father had told me,” An expert makes the job look easier than it is”. I watched him bend the tubing into the right radius and offset. It fit perfectly. My previous attempt lay on the floor of the machine room, mocking me. Forty seven cents of scrap copper pipe and a humiliating feeling that I would have paid anything to remove.
He was reinforcing something I had learned at an early age when I first stepped onto the ice in my new, used ice skates.My friends were skating by me effortlessly as I picked myself up again off my bruised ass. Ice skating was a lot harder than it looked.
Flash ahead some 30 years to another learning opportunity.At this point in my helicopter career, I was ,in my opinion an accomplished pilot . Or, so I thought.
A month earlier I had been flying an MD 500D slinging damaged power lines off a burnt hillside that was being helicopter logged. I had a 150′ line with remote hook and the power line I was picking up had been cut into 200′ lengths.For some reason we were picking up the lines at one end rather than the middle or coiled up ?
When the end of the power line finally came off the ground I had about 350′ of slithering line to fly down to a trailer parked near my helispot.The job took a couple of days and when I was not flying I sat under a tree and watched Columbia Helicopters big black Chinook logging the burnt trees off the hillside above my helispot.The pilots flying the Chinook with the “politically incorrect ” name of Oprah were obviously very good at their job. At that point in my career I had several thousand hours of long line flying and I started thinking that I might like to helicopter log as well. How hard could it be?
Revelstoke, British Columbia and the gray,rainy, March weather was an unpleasant contrast from the California weather I had left a month earlier. So here I was landing the S-58T on the service landing on my very first try at helicopter logging. My new employer had given me a check ride in an MD 500 flying a long line and I had been pronounced..O.K. ! With the maintenance complete on the Sikorsky 58T we were off to go make some money and learn how to log.
It would be the usual OJT in the 58T. I suspected that the company wanted to gauge my performance before they spent any non revenue flight time. Besides the command pilot in the other seat there was another pilot trainee sitting downstairs with the mechanic .I couldn’t help feeling a bit like a kid at hockey tryouts. Two trainee pilots and one slot available as a logging pilot. The other pilot had previous time logging in this helicopter and that made me feel a little disadvantaged.
Oh well, fly smooth,hope for the best and prepare for the worst.
….more to come
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