20 June 2010


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?"

A pause...
"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.


michael said...

Snicker Snort. Leave to non-aviation people to think that having a tent near a helicopter landing zone is a good idea. It is always a good idea to let the aircrew pick a good spot.

camerapilot said...

So after blowing the suds off everybody's beer are you getting the bike?

Greybeard said...

I'm conflicted now, CP.
Folks I trust have shared their opinions...
Some have rightfully pointed out the Sportster won't be comfortable with Sara Jean along.
BZ thinks Harleys are still a maintenance nightmare.

Now I'm shopping around for other makes. Back in the early 70's I had a friend who owned a 750 BMW boxer...
Simple, comfortable, quiet and clean. I think I'd like to buy something similar.
Any ideas, anyone?

camerapilot said...

I talk to a lot of Motor Men(bike cops) while on location. Here in LA we have retired bike cops who escort from here to there when we (film crews) are on the streets. Some have Harley's, others BMW's and some on Kawasaki's that have been the California Cop Bike for years.
I hear complaints from the BMW cops- the upkeep is very steep; the Kawasaki cops- the bike keeps thumpin;
the Harley cops- they get a deal from a local dealer and it seems they like these new Harley's......
If you want your babe on the back, shuck the Sportster. That bike was Harley's attempt to give Triumph a run for it's money. She aint made for long hauls and she's meant for a solo driver.
Harley stands as a true American icon, but it comes with a price. Japanese bikes techno wise are at the top of the food chain. I wish it was us but it aint at the moment.
Yamaha has some nice cruisers. Ask that chopper chick- Desiree. She has an insight on your question.

Bloviating Zeppelin said...

Dude, that's why YOU'RE the professional pilot!


Crown-n-coke said...

G.B. I love my 01 Honda Shadow 1100, and it's got a great seat for the wife, also I didn't have to sell my firstborn to be able to buy it!