Georgia Chapter
of the
Vietnam Helicopter Pilots Association

Musings of an unknown Helicopter Pilot

Anything that screws its way into the sky flies according to unnatural principals. 
You never want to sneak up behind an old high-time helicopter pilot and
clap your hands. He will instantly dive for cover and most likely whimper...then get up smack you.

There are no old helicopters laying around airports like you see old Airplanes. There is a reason for this. Come to think of it, there are not many old high-time helicopter pilots hanging around airports either so the first issue is problematic.

You can always tell a helicopter pilot in anything moving, a train, an airplane, a car or a boat. They never smile, they are always listening to the machine and they always hear something they think is not right.

Helicopter pilots fly in a mode of intensity, actually more like "spring loaded", while waiting for pieces of their ship to fall off.

Flying a helicopter at any altitude over 500 feet is considered reckless and should be avoided. Flying a helicopter at any altitude or condition that precludes a landing in less than 20 seconds is considered outright foolhardy.

Remember in a helicopter you have about 1 second to lower the collective in an engine failure before it becomes unrecoverable. Once you've failed this maneuver the machine flies about as well as a 20 case Coke machine. Even a perfectly executed autorotation only gives you a glide ratio slightly better than that of a brick. 180 degree autorotations are a violent and aerobatic maneuver in my opinion and should be avoided.

When your wings are leading, lagging, flapping, precessing and moving faster than your fuselage there's something unnatural going on. Is this the way men were meant to fly?

While hovering, if you start to sink a bit, you pull up on the collective w hile wisting the throttle, push with your left foot (more torque) and move the stick left (more translating tendency) to hold your spot. If you now need to stop rising, you do the opposite in that order. Sometimes in wind you do this many times each second. Don't you think that's a strange way to fly?

For Helicopters: You never want to feel a sinking feeling in your gut (low "g" pushover) while flying a two bladed under slung teetering rotor system.  You are about to do a snap-roll to the right and crash. For that matter, any remotely aerobatic maneuver should be avoided in a Huey. Don't push your luck. It will run out soon enough anyway.

If everything is working fine on your helicopter consider yourself temporarily lucky. Something is about to break.

Way back while I was flying Huey gunships in Vietnam, Harry Reasoner wrote the following about helicopter pilots: "The thing is, helicopters are different from planes. An airplane by its nature wants to fly, and if not interfered with too strongly by unusual events or by a deliberately incompetent pilot, it will fly. A helicopter does not want to fly. It is maintained in the air by a variety of forces and controls working in opposition to each other, and if there is any disturbance in this delicate balance the helicopter stops flying; immediately and disastrously.

There is no such thing as a gliding helicopter.

"This is why being a helicopter pilot is so different from being an airplane pilot, and why in generality, airplane pilots are open, clear-eyed, buoyant extroverts and helicopter pilots are brooding introspective anticipators of trouble.

They know if something bad has not happened it is about to.  " Having said all this, I will also tell you that flying in a helicopter is one of the most satisfying and exhilarating experiences I have ever enjoyed.

What I miss most is skimming over the trees at 100 knots + in a light observation helicopter.

And remember the fighter pilot's prayer:

"Lord I pray for the eyes of an eagle, the heart of a lion and the balls of a combat helicopter pilot."

Many years later I know that it was sometimes anything but fun, but now it is something to brag about for those of us who survived the experience.

Basic Helicopter Flying Rules:

1. Try to stay in the middle of the air.

2. Do not go near the edges of it.

3. The edges of the air can be recognized by the appearance of ground, buildings, sea, trees and interstellar space. It is much more difficult to fly there.

By: Unknown