A friend works as a helicopter tour pilot. The operator has a fleet of beautiful EC130s. One day a colleague was flying the usual route when the Turbomecca engine remembered that it had been built by the French. There was an instant loss of power and it was time to enter an autorotation. Unlike in training, the engine failure did not come with quotation marks (a throttle rolled to idle) and did not occur conveniently over a smooth clear surface. The pilot did the best he could and the helicopter landed hard enough on some uneven terrain that the gear was bent. Two groups of tourists were on board. The Germans booked a replacement flight for the next day. The Americans went to the hospital “to be checked out.”
Separately, as part of our ground school class at MIT, we scheduled a Brazilian Air Force officer (and current MIT PhD student) to talk about flying the F-16 and working as a test pilot. Here’s some email correspondence:
the American (me): MIT is doing an article on the class and the journalist, cc’d, would like to talk to you about your role. I explained that you’re going to give a talk on the last day of the class (Thursday, Jan 18, around 12) on the differences between Brazil and the U.S. and also, of course, about your heroic adventures in the Air Force!
the Brazilian: “Keep in mind that there is nothing ‘heroic’ in defending my country during peaceful times. We all prefer this way, right?”
I explained to him that, with this kind of attitude, he would never make it in the U.S. military….
- NTSB report available on the Grand Canyon helicopter crash (unfortunately, sometimes there are also serious impacts with the ground)
- The AStar fuel shutoff lever, and surviving a helicopter water landing (anther bad one)