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December 06, 2004

Re: How Fast Can You Fly Backward? Or Why Helicopter Pilots are Superior

*Sigh* …another example of aviation penis envy.

Whenever someone starts slamming others, especially other pilots about their jets, look out. To paraphrase Shreck, sounds like he’s trying to compensate for something.

Anyway…I like helicopters. I think they’re kinda cool and would love trying to fly one. But, in the end, I like the idea of carrying enough killing power to equal a modern-day American artillery unit. Me. Alone. By myself.

As far as “operating by the numbers” is concerned, the fixed wing community does that because it must. To not do so puts you and the people around and underneath you at risk. (Vtoss, by the way is not something fixed-wingers have to worry about…try Vmc, Vxse, Vyse, and Vsse, but I digress…). Every airplane, fixed wing or rotor, has limits. How about an 80-knot crosswind? 100 knots? Do you guys fly in tornados? It’s not how slow you can land, it’s what going on around you when you do that matters. Ask any Navy VERTREP guy…landing on a pitching deck is predicated on what the boat’s doing, what the winds are doing (among other things), not how much forward speed he’s got…although I’m sure that factors into the equation somewhere.

As far as operating environments go, ever heard of Texas Lake? See: A-10s, Nellis, Red Flag, austere operating environments. Heh. Want a spot landing? See: United States Marine Corps, Harrier pilot, standard, one each. As for flying VFR, that would be what most of the fighter guys do on most of their sorties (OK, the air-to-mudders…Hogs and Vipers more’n likely).

As far as flying in busy airspace goes and with cosmic cockpits…cool. And, therefore…what?

Workload. Well, I have fueled my own jet, loaded my own bombs…OK, they were BDUs, but gimme a few hours of checkout and I’ll help on the big stuff. Now let’s talk mission workload: 100’ AGL, three wingmen, radar threats, weapons, fuel, and mission management, based on what the FAC and ground commanders want/need. Serious helmet fires abound in this environment, but it’s when you’re most alive. And, assuming you don’t get assholed by an SA-whatever, 57mm AAA, small arms fire, or run into the friggin’ ground, it’s the ultimate high. Doing it well, even though it taxes you to the max, is THE rush…so bring on the workload.

Fisking time:

“But wait, like the Ginsu knife, "there's more!" The rotor-head does it all. He does all the pre-flight planning, submits the flight plan, prepares all the paperwork…”

In the Air Force, that’s called being a “rated pilot.”

“…loads and briefs the passengers…”

Mine don’t care and don’t talk…they just go “boom.”

This part is my favorite:

“Finally, the all important question, "What about control touch?" I want to shut up all the hotshot fighter pilots. I've been in their aircraft and they have been in mine... I could fly theirs but they were all over the sky in mine! So then, Mr Starch Winger; when you see a Hughes 500 or Bell 206 pilot hold one skid on a 5000' knife edge ridge that is only two feet wide so passengers can step out onto the ridge, while the other skid is suspended in space... when you watch a Skycrane, Vertol, S61, 212, or 214B pilot place a hook, that's on a cable 200 feet below the aircraft, in the hand of a ground crewman... when you see a Lama, AStar, or Bell 206L land in a space in the trees that's scarcely bigger than the helicopter... and if you ever watch a BK 117, 105, or A109 pilot land in a vacant lot next to a busy freeway surrounded by power lines -at night... Well then, you'll have some idea who is the master manipulator of aviation equipment.”

Oh, please.

Yes, it’s easier to fly a real airplane for the first time if: you didn’t do the takeoff, don’t do the landing, don’t go to the range, don’t fly fingertip (three feet from your jet to his at cruise speeds, varying g-loads and bank angles) and basically do all the important shite you do as a fully qualified fixed-wing combat aviator. This is not to belittle the helo aviator’s skill, but it helps to put it in perspective.

Could I hover on my first try? Probably not very well…but if I had a competent IP, I could probably figure out the basics in a short time. I have never been in a helo as a person with hands on the controls, but, figuring the cyclic let me go forward/back and left/right and the collective gives me up/down (and power), I’d pick a visual reference on the ground and fly the airplane by keeping it in the same position relative to that point using those three controls (plus a little pedal action to keep the nose/tail aligned). Would that be a start? …and I’ll take all the techniques you’re willing to offer.

For “bird-like control touch,” see: USAF/USN/USMC fighter/attack pilots, all, in fingertip formation, 90-degrees of bank, 2-3 g’s, plus “Thunderbirds” and “Blue Angels” (for same in cool uniforms and surrounded by babes after landing). And that’s just one example.

“The bottom line is; if all you want is to get into the air, find a Cessna, Beech, F-16, or 757. However, if you want to truly fly, to be an artisan in aviation and develop a bird-like control touch; then, you want to be a helicopter pilot. After all, a rock would probably fly if you made it go 180 knots. The real question for our fixed wing brethren should be, ‘How fast can you fly backward?’”


The bottom line is, if you want to fly, get in an airplane. It can be fixed- or rotary-wing. They all have their uses, their peculiarities, their plusses and their minuses…but they’re ALL airplanes and they’re ALL fun. The real question to our rotary-wing brethren should be, “When was the last time you did a loop?”

Fly safe, dude.

Dusty | Permalink | Comments (15) | Testosterone Alert
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