It's a hot June Saturday afternoon. We're scheduled to land at a festival in a small town, show off the machine, answer questions, and glad-hand with the locals. I love doing these things...
A chance to relax and meet some real people.
My contact information indicates I'm supposed to land on a baseball diamond and gives me a call-sign and frequency for my ground contact.
Five minutes from landing I make the radio call:
"Unit 5410, this is ****3, over."
We get a crisp, clear response, and I tell 5410 we'll be there in five.
Circling overhead we see the Ferris Wheel and a few other rides, lots of booths to sell fast food and crafts, and the beer tent.
The beer tent!
It's right next to where they want us to land.
"Hey 5410, I'm really concerned about landing next to that tent."
"We asked about that and they assured us the wind will NOT be a problem."
I pause, bite my tongue, and think of Murphy's Law.
"Okay. We're turning final now. I'll keep an eye on it. Yell if you see anything."
I brief my crew on the landing and ask them to watch the tent closely.
As we land, the helicopter probably weighs about 6,600 pounds. At the bottom of the approach the rotor has to move enough air to stop both the forward and vertical speed of this heavy machine. We're 10 feet above the ground and our forward motion is almost completely stopped when I see the near corner of the tent become airborne. I grab a huge handful of collective to abort the landing, and of course that moves a bunch more air... and the second pole and tie-down on that side of the tent collapses.
Back in the air orbiting the scene...
"Hey 5410, is everyone okay down there?"
"Yeah, no damage here other than to the tent. There are a few red faces though!"
"Got a better idea on a place to land?"
"Why don't YOU pick a spot?"
And I did...
As far away from the tent as I could get.