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Articles for category Moggy's Musings




Feb
27
2017

A Blip on the Radar (Part 24E) "What did you do THAT for...?

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FrancisMeyrick

I had let it go as long as I possibly dared. Longer. I had given this Commercial Pilot every opportunity to recover. To get with the action. Hell, to blessed well get involved, even. But no... Too busy waving The Royal Wave at his buddies. Too busy doing his Grand Fly By. Too busy showing off… I could hear the blade slap. I could feel the buffeting. I could sense what was about to happen. All the warning signals were there, all the harbingers of Truth, all the Reminders of the immutable Laws of Nature and Gravity... everything was lining up, trying to flash that little amber caution light in a good pilot's mind… Remember the introduction? [Read More...]



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Jan
23
2017

I'm good. I don't need your help. (Part 1)

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FrancisMeyrick

As we readied ourselves for another Tuna Boat take-off, I watched my... (student?)(candidate?)(ward?) carefully. My hands were very close to the controls. I knew, in my heart, that I didn't trust him. I wanted to, but bitter experience had placed me on guard. More and more, I found the thought of his flying alone off another Tuna Boat utterly frightening. I knew I had an uphill battle on my hands. My Boss was totally determined to have this fine fellow summarily checked out, and dispatched asap to the next available open slot on a Tuna Boat. That could come any day. Our pilot turnover was high. People burned out, or got into arguments with crew and captains. [Read More...]



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Dec
20
2016

The Simple Stuff Can Bite You - Part 2

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FrancisMeyrick

It's the STUPID little stuff that trips you up. The routine. If I can get that point across, I'll be thrilled. Here is an example, one which does not paint me as the great Sky God. But, hopefully, it can show you how easy, easy, easy, the stupid, simple stuff can bite you... [Read More...]



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Nov
17
2016

The Simple Stuff Can Bite You - Part 1

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FrancisMeyrick

I have honestly tried to share with you some of the really horrible moments. Spread across Tuna Boat flying, Law Enforcement, North Sea, Gulf of Mexico, Africa, and elsewhere. Sure, I didn't actually break anything. I actually never even scratched a helicopter. But maybe it was more of a "lucky near miss" than merely an "academic potential". I nearly, nearly screwed the pooch. I got so close I got to smell his damn doggie breath. I didn't like it. So I slowed down. Backed off. I accepted I was not perfect. Not even remotely. Not only was I not a brilliant pilot. I was perhaps just a very average fixed wing and chopper jockey. I needed to slow down. And watch myself... re-evaluate where I stood on Risk. It's the simple things that get you in helicopters. It's not the Green Man from Planet Yuptulia cutting you up in his convertible Flying Saucer, practicing barrel rolls. Nothing as exotic as that. It's the STUPID little stuff that trips you up. The routine. If I can get that point across, I'll be thrilled. Here is an example, one which does not paint me as the great Sky God. But, hopefully, it can show you how easy, easy, easy, the stupid, simple stuff can bite you... [Read More...]



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Oct
24
2016

Pilot-not-in-command; Moggy, Moggy, what DID I just do...??

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FrancisMeyrick

Accidents happen, they say. But in the helicopter flying world, these accidents can kill. It follows that the prudent helicopter pilot will always try and think ahead. To the "what if" scenarios. What if this-and-this happens? Then I will do THAT. Now you have actually thought about it. Beforehand. Maybe read something up on the subject. Seen it in "Moggy's Tuna Manual". Discussed it with a fellow pilot. You have digested it. For sure, you are now a much better pilot. But what of the sudden, cataclysmic events that you have never -ever- in your wildest dreams thought about? That happen so incredibly swiftly, that the events become almost surreal? Taking on a dream-like quality? It is to be hoped that you never experience these events. But if you stay in the world of helicopters long enough, never mind the mercurial, quicksilver world of tuna spotting helicopters.... well, you will experience these nasty surprises, my friend, believe me, you will... [Read More...]



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Sep
19
2016

Routine and Sudden Terror - The Rest of the Story

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FrancisMeyrick

I was lucky in some ways. Before I arrived in the Tuna Fields, my nerves had been stretched taut many times. I was -and am- a determined, pretty cool, methodical thinker under extreme stress. But lest this sound like a vain boast, or foolish self congratulation, let me quickly add my ability to cope is due to (all too frequent) practice. And let me also frankly confess to having been -too often- scared to death. When you think you are a dead man, your body reacts. Afterward, people who see your face, without a word being spoken, can often tell. It's in the pallor of the skin, the gray, and in the eyes, hollow, sunken, haunted, bloodshot, and staring. Eyes that have seen.... the approaching shadow. [Read More...]



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Apr
25
2016

Auto-tribulations

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FrancisMeyrick

This time I turned up with a very different attitude. Gone were the doubts. In their place was a lot more confidence. Confidence in the helicopter. Confidence in me. Oh, there were still doubts. And still, a certain amount of fear. I didn't like autorotations. MY instructor told me I would end up loving them. Maybe. But I didn't right then. Looking back on it, I think my understanding of the aerodynamic principles of autorotation was not matched by my confidence in the blessed principle working. It sounds so simple. In powered flight, all normal, the engine powers the rotor system, via the transmission. Airflow is "induced" down through the rotor disc. Okay, happy-happy. Now, gremlins. What happens if the engine goes tiddley-up AWOL? As in Kaputt, seized, broke, busted, knackered? We simulate that in autorotation training. We lower the collective lever, that looks like a really old fashioned vintage hand brake, and roll the throttle off. Sadistic instructors enjoy doing this to petrified students. I'm sure they torture kittens as well. [Read More...]



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Mar
25
2016

"Oh, oh, oops...! Sorry...!"

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FrancisMeyrick

I arrived overhead, looked down. Yep. That's the heli-terminal. Rows and rows of shiny little helicopters, parked in neat, white circles. Down I went. Nice approach. Noticed this funny, rather high barbed wire fence all around the heli-terminal. Strict security, eh? Hey-ho. Hop over the fence. Land in a nice, big circle beside a big shiny fellow. Great! Hey-hum. Don't want to shut down just yet. Having too much fun. I'm in circle number twenty. I see. Well, let's do some practice. Hop over to circle number eighteen. Lift up, hover checks, across we go. Settle down in the hover, DOWN we settle, BINGO! [Read More...]



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Feb
22
2016

Learning to Fly Helicopters - Do I Trust This Thing?

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FrancisMeyrick

The Robinson R-22... Long time ago. Early model days. Old fashioned twist grip, no governor, straight tail. I was suspicious, still, about the mechanical integrity of the beast. It looked so flimsy. Like a bunch of surplus tin cans beat roughly into shape. Now masquerading as a flying machine. A wind up, clockwork, plastic toy. In a quiet moment, I ambled in to the work shop. Asked for the chief mechanic. Boss man engineer. Out he came, pleasant, friendly, American. I wanted to ask some questions? Learning to fly at the school? Sure, go right ahead. "Thanks. First. This here rotor system. It looks so home made. So fragile. What is the history of Robinson crashes due rotor system structural failures? As opposed to pilot error, and people losing Rotor Rpm due to incorrect technique?" I thought that was pretty well the fifty million dollar (and some cents) question. He laughed and told me: one. That he was aware of. Early on in the history of the R-22, some guys had noticed rotor delamination. Somebody had wondered if it would still fly okay. One way to find that out, eh? Let's go fly! It didn't work out, and they augured in. Oh!, I thought. You can't really blame that one on the designer. I was later to hear that there was also a minor matter of overflying the component times involved. (5,500 flight hours on a 2,000 component life) [Read More...]



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Dec
22
2015

Helicopter On Fire - Who, Me??

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FrancisMeyrick

The first time I heard this story, I thought it was a Gulf myth. I didn't believe it. But then I saw the photographic evidence. It was kind of interesting. Irrefutable. Good grief. Yep. Many years ago, on a sunny day in the Gulf of Mexico, this event actually happened... A helicopter 'communications center' is, if you like, is the 'eye in the head shed'. It's a large room, with lots of telephones ringing, lots of screens, and lots of people hunched over those screens, and quietly cursing the telephones. . Out there, somewhere, lots of little helicopters are plying their trade. Pilots are calling the commcenter, and the commcenter is calling pilots. Position reports, landing reports, flight plans... [Read More...]



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