21 November 2007

What Is It About Pilots?

... Or maybe it's just "Macho" at work?

First, keep this in mind-
We've just changed the schedule at our base. We're trying 7-on, 7-off. It makes for a long work-week, but the time off is great!
My story begins as I have received a call late in my shift on the last of 8 days in a row... (I'm repaying one of the "trade days" I needed to go to Hawaii that I spoke about in an earlier post).
It's been a butt-kicker. When we talked about this 7/7 schedule I forgot there can be days when you strap the BK to your back and pretty much keep it there until quittin' time. I flew 5.6 hours yesterday, and have flown 3.3 as the phone rang for this flight.
This week has been like that. I was REALLY lookin' forward to time to go home when this call came in!

I sigh, check weather, and agree to take the flight. It's to a University... a teaching hospital 130 miles away. When I get there I'm gonna need some kerosene to make it back home. I ask dispatch to check and see if my memory is correct... that my landing helipad has fuel available right there. When they verify it does, I ask them to call and see if someone can meet me and make sure I pump the fuel safely.

This hospital is known for its helipad rules...
Don't turn the tail rotor toward the building...
Don't hot-offload unless your patient is tryin' to die immediately.
The rule I have always liked best is... "Sometimes it's easier to ask for forgiveness than to ask for permission."

But I decide to be a good boy. I land near the BK based at the hospital, then snuggle up close to the fuel pump so we don't have to pull the hose too far. My med-crew stays aboard until I pull the throttles on the engines and stop the rotor with the rotor brake. We unload the stretcher and my crew gets on their way to help the patient. A guy wearing a flight suit with Captain's shoulder boards comes out to the fuel pit and I walk over and introduce myself. He's younger than me, but no Spring Chicken. He begins to show me how to operate the fuel system, and together we pull the hose off the hose reel. At this point he says, "By the way, we NORMALLY land East-West on this pad".
His BK IS in fact pointed West. Mine is pointed North. I specifically pointed it that way for safety... to keep anyone departing or approaching the aircraft as far away from the tail-rotor as possible.

Remember now... I'm now at 8 days in a row, and I'm damned tired.
I bite my tongue and say, "Please tell me what is unsafe about the way I parked."

He's taken aback a little, but after a moment's hesitation says, "Well, it's just the way we normally do it around here."

I'll ask you... Do you think he was trying to establish a pecking order?
I did.
So I quit biting my tongue and said, "I'll tell ya this, partner...
Right now I don't give a flyin' flip about what you do around here normally. I landed that way because I felt it was the safest way to land. If you can show me how that's not the case, I'll be glad to do it your way."

Pecking order firmly established, we finished pumping my fuel and went to his quarters where he brewed a pot of coffee and we got to know one another better.
He's actually a nice guy... a National Guard Apache pilot.
Just needs a little social trainin', that's all.


cary said...

Personally, I try to avoid pissing contests. If the wind is wrong, you both get wet...

Greybeard said...

A very good point, Cary.
But having met you, I wonder...
Put yourself in my shoes. You've just come back from 10 days on holiday, to include a 6 hour "Redeye" flight from Hell.
Your first day home you have to drive 4 hours round-trip to fly an hour with a student. The next day you start this 8-day-in-a-row shift where you have your butt handed to you work-wise.
What I should have, but didn't say in my Post is that this flight was "punted" to me by another of our pilots that should have flown it but claimed (wrongly), that he couldn't take the flight due to duty time issues.

(Snicker)... I wish I could have been a mouse in your pocket during those last weeks you were out at "O-Dark-Thirty" delivering papers so I could see the "Angelic Cary" avoiding pissin' contests!
And remember the key to this Post...
I thought I was doin' my good deed of the day by modifying "questionable" behavior!

The Flying Flemings said...

Greybeard, boy can I relate to this post! Some of my most exasperating moments in EMS have occured on or near hospital helipads. I think I'm pretty calm in general but I tend to get ticked off more easily when it comes these dang pads and some of the idiotic things that seem to occur on them. It's a friken' miracle we're able to land so succesfully on scenes when you consider some of the hospital pad antics. Okay, just a little venting. lol


I must admit, GB, you let him off easy.