26 September 2006

20/38

Anniversaries- what do you make of them?
I just had one, and I forgot about it until a couple days ago, when a friend had her one year "Blogaversary". She set me to thinking about the calendar, and what I might have missed in the way of anniversaries in my own life.

September 6th marks my 20th year flying a helicopter ambulance.
It's all been with the same company, although the organization has been acquired twice during the 20 years. And what a job! I can look back on the 20 years and remember some of the flights like they happened yesterday.
I've related many of the memorable flights here in this journal. Lots more are forthcoming, when inclination and inspiration come calling together.

I've been flying helicopters now for 38 years, so more than half that time has been spent flying sick folks to get the help they need. As you can imagine, the machines and the industry as a whole have changed a great deal during that time. How interesting it has been to watch as aircraft have gotten more powerful, lighter, stronger, and faster. Coffee grinder radios, literally sometimes with vacuum tubes, have been replaced by solid state equipment that is better in every way and makes the job safer and easier.

I don't know when I'll leave this job. Petty politics are an aggravation in any organization, including the one I work for. I'm not paid nearly what I'm worth, considering the risks I must take to do what has to be done to do my job well, but the money has never been why I have stuck it out since 1986....... this job is as nearly perfect as any I have ever had. I'm doing something I love to do, and helping others at a critical time in their life while I do it.

My hearing is slowly failing after nearly 40 years of assaulting decibels.
I now must don reading glasses at night to read radio frequencies off charts when I go to an unfamiliar airport. I'm blessed with good health, but know there are no guarantees....... the annual flight physical is a little more tense each year.

What is most comforting is the people that have passed through my life during this time, many of whom come here to read and comment. I have strong friends...... (strong is such an understatement), that stay in touch, even after moving on to other jobs. That brings me great comfort.

Two years? Three? Five? When the time comes for my retirement party, I think (and hope) it will be a memorable event!

7 comments:

THIRDWAVEDAVE said...

Greybeard, happy anniversary!! And don't start planning that retirement party just yet; I think you have a little flight time left in ya.

k said...

Cheers! And you're fortunate to have so many great experiences and to have a career that you both enjoy and find fulfillment in.

OlePrairiedog said...

Flame and I will be there when the party is announced. I claim senior bartender rights, being a current SIP of both Daiquiris, Margaritas, and Cuba Libres. I also volunteer to regale your guests with funny stories of your past, not one of which you probably want made public.

Aviatrix said...

Sulako says he has no idea what is going on in this helicopter crash. Do you?

Greybeard said...

Avi-
I saw this one a few weeks ago.

Settling with power.
It's a phenomenon all helicopter pilots learn about in their training.
A good explanation, complete with nice color charts is HERE.

Basically, the air begins to recirculate around the rotor system, and the rotor cannot get the lift it needs because the air has already been accelerated before it enters the rotor. Watch the "coning" of the rotor before the machine smacks the water.

It's a Russian helicopter with a boat hull, like many Sikorskys. My guess is that when he strikes the surface, it breaks the chin bubbles out and begins to take on water. The pilot realizes he is gonna sink if he doestn't get the machine airborne, and tries to take off while the helicopter is getting heavier and heavier with the water coming in the chin bubbles.

All but the pilot get out of it....
he goes down with his ship.

E said...

Happy anniversary! Thank you for your many years of safe service as a medevac pilot!

Di said...

Happy anniversary, my friend!!! Your contribution through your work is of great value. What a life you're living!! 'Here's to many more years!!! :))