Post about "Aviation Airplanes"

Helicopter Pilots – Care and Feeding

You can’t help but have the feeling that there will come a future generation of men, if there are any future generations of men, who will look at old pictures of helicopters and say, “You’ve got to be kidding.” — Harry ReasonerI was a commercial helicopter pilot for 35 years. In that time I logged over 12,000 hours in 21 different models of helicopter, both military and civilian, and I learned a few things about how to survive in the cockpit. Mr. Reasoner’s comment notwithstanding, helicopters do fly, and quite well most of the time. They’re used on pretty much a daily basis in many parts of the country, for various tasks ranging from the mundane, such as spraying fields of almond trees, to the exotic, like chasing bears across ridge lines, about which more later. And public opinion concerning these ungainly contraptions, whose addition to the pantheon of aviation is somewhat more than noise and commotion to be sure, is mixed at best. It should be noted that one of the brighter lights of aviation design, none other than Igor Sikorsky, started out scribbling plans for airplanes. Igor soon tired of that, finding more challenge and stimulation in rotary wing design. And speaking of mentors, Leonardo DaVinci is identified pretty strongly with what is possibly the earliest rendering of a flying contraption. His studies on a machine for vertical flight, the “aircrew,” circa 1493 were well in advance of the first airplanes.But little has been written or studied about the pilots of these clattering machines. Helicopter pilots are, in many ways, the mirror image of their craft: they tend to be wary of recognition; they avoid controversy or public spectacle; they tend to be unobtrusive; and they require very little attention, or coddling for that matter. Lord knows their employers believe the latter. Pay scales in rotary wing aviation are notoriously low, and kept that way by an unwritten, unspoken rule in the industry which seems to militate against making waves. Most helicopter pilots are just happy to have a seat, and they intend to keep it.Not that helicopter pilots are shy or introverted. Quite the contrary. In the company of other rotor-heads, they can be loud to the point of audible, and then some. Around the flying public, not so much. With customers, helicopter pilots keep to themselves, except for mandatory banter used to soothe the widespread, and sometimes pathological fear of flying found in many people. Full time helicopter pilots must often be part-time psychologists as well, easing their fares onto the couch, and then coaching them through session after anxious session in the air. This training also comes in handy when dealing with company owners, the FAA, air traffic controllers and those pilots who had the opportunity to enjoy a life in the sky, but who chose instead to attempt to make money flying–our fixed wing brethren.So who are these reclusive aviators, the pilots Harry Reasoner refers to in his essay as “brooders, introspective anticipators of trouble.”? What about the care and feeding of helicopter pilots?Once upon a time, in a hangar far, far away, two pilots, a flyer of helicopters and a flyer of airplanes engaged in a conversation about their chosen aircraft. The fixed wing fellow in his pristine uniform shirt, and golden epaulets, the aroma of Aqua Velva clinging to his clean-shaven face, sneered at a passing line boy who washed the airplanes, and readied them for flight. He snickered, watching the lad heft the fuel hose, while he sat in shaded comfort.Speaking of his machine, then being serviced in the punishing heat of the ramp, he bragged about the inherent stability of the plane, its capacity to stay aloft for many hours, its speed and altitude which made the distant earth pass by beneath him nearly unnoticed. He talked of his airplane’s built in safety features which allowed him to stay out of harm’s way while traversing the sky. He spoke in glowing terms about his airplane’s gauge-studded cockpit, each dial, bell and whistle installed to give him peace of mind in the unforgiving atmosphere. He mentioned the all weather capability of his plane, and he bragged about the number of ways he could communicate with professionals on the ground through numerous radios, with an array of frequencies at his fingertips, all installed to cover any possible emergency. He went on to speak in animated fashion about the system of navigational devices, radar, air traffic controllers at his beck and call, and the comfort of knowing he always had, just an arm’s length away, another pilot in the cockpit, someone who could back him up if and when things turned sporty, or just to spell him if he grew weary. Not that he’d need that, with his autopilot ready at the flick of a switch. “You see,” he said. “I have every intention of expiring in my bed at age 85.”The helicopter pilot listened, bemused. Smiling, he waited for his colleague to complete his homage to the relative value of airplanes.Then he patted the fixed winger on the back, and began. “Here’s my ambition,” he said. “Just like you, I’d like to die in my bed of old age, at around 85, after a long, colorful, adventurous career in the sky. And I intend to do just that. But here’s the difference between us, my friend.”I want to walk to the helipad every morning and pat the machine on its side, knowing there’s a bond between us, and that the touch is important. I want to fuel it myself, knowing every drop of go juice goes in, and it’s the right stuff, not half water, or sissy fuel. I want to check it over myself, and make sure the parts are still there, at least the big ones. I want to hit the starter, and suck in the stink of burning jet fuel, its glorious aroma sticking to my skin like aftershave. I want to lift the collective, feel the skitter of the skids as the machine gets light, and then feel it come alive under me. I want to pull pitch, and sense the imminence of the one maneuver that sets us apart from all you fixed wing guys–the ability to by God hover! There’s no feeling like it in the whole world, and even if I’d never done it, I’d still miss it.”Then I want to take off with a clatter and a rush, and feel the familiar rattle and shake in the airframe as I pass in to clean air. It always makes me smile. It’s not like driving along a runway; it’s like feeling the earth drop away beneath you.”I want to take off in the morning mist, slither through scud that sticks to my windscreen and drips on my cyclic stick ’cause there’s a leak in the greenhouse overhead. I want to soar across cornfields at 90 knots, scattering dogs and chickens as I go, while sucking in the loamy scent of fresh blown greenery that seeps into my cockpit. I want to careen through mountain passes at fifty feet above ground, counting the leaves of oak and hemlock trees as they whip around in my rotorwash, laughing with goats and elk as they salute me in their way as I pass them by. Then I’ll land and snatch the branches and twigs out of my skids.”I want to cruise near waterfalls, feeling the air turn chill in their wet presence out my door, and nip the underside of clouds with my blades, just to see the swirls and whorls I’ve created, and I don’t care what the authorities say. I want to see brother eagle up ahead, slow my craft nearly to a hover, just like him, and fly formation off the fellow’s wing, see him nod, acknowledging our fraternity, and then watch him fold his wings and dive as we part company till next time. I want to buzz a farmer in his field, and wave at his kids straddling his tractor, and give them ideas of maybe breaking free of the land and flying someday, too.”You see, I’m not interested in ‘inherent stability’. Life’s never gonna be like that. Hell, nobody gets out of it alive anyway; why not look life in the eye and spit? And your long-range thing? See, here’s why I picked helicopters: when I was a young pup, I could hold it all day. Now? That machine’s got a pretty small fuel tank. It’s perfect for me since I gotta pee every two hours, max.”High altitudes never interested me; I want to see what I’m flying over, and get to know the landforms and orientation of it, follow the contours and feel the way the wind flows over hills and surges into valleys. The air is glorious, but the earth is home. As for my cockpit, I don’t need two radios, a transponder, radar altimeter, GPS, fuel flow meter, digital gauges, and all that fancy stuff. Give me an altimeter, a radio, a map and a string in front to tell me I’m in trim, and I’ll go fly. All those bright and shiny gauges make you forget you’re supposed to be the one flying the machine. Every pilot worth a nickel knows where he is all the time, how much fuel he’s got, how to get where he’s going, what the weather is and when the machine’s telling him something’s about to spit up. As for the professionals on the ground, if they had the nerve and the imagination to fly they’d be up where we are. They’re just timid folks, mostly, God love ‘em. Men and women who’d love to be in aviation, but not too far in. And in an emergency, they’re no good to you. Accident reports are filled with descriptions of pilots found dead in the cockpit with their hands crushing the microphone, calling for help.”Peace of mind? If I was interested in that I’d have gone into the priesthood, or maybe bought a combination condom, bar and pizza shop in a college town. Peace of mind to me is being so attuned to the helicopter I can tell to the minute when I’ll arrive, to the second when a low fuel light will snap on, and to the instant when the skids will touch the pad. Peace of mind is being able to tell a nervous passenger there’s gonna be a bump thirty seconds before it happens, and then seeing their face when it does! Peace of mind is knowing beyond a shadow of a doubt that I’m the one flying the machine, not flying by committee, and that whatever decisions get made stay made, right or wrong. Remember the eagle? You never see two of them flying along wing to wing. There’s a reason helicopters have one pilot seat.”See this,” the helicopter pilot said to the plane pilot, pointing to his knees.”Those are your knees,” the airplane guy said.”No they’re not,” the helicopter pilot responded. “They’re my autopilot. Every helicopter jockey worth a nickel can fly the aircraft, light a cigarette, read a map, eat lunch, apply makeup if that’s your thing, dial a radio, adjust the lighting, wipe the windscreen, open a soda, write coordinates, and tap a sticky fuel gauge to get it to read right, while flying with his knees, and never gain or lose twenty feet of altitude. The only autopilot I identify with is what I call myself driving home after work, ’cause my wife says I drive too fast.The airplane fellow checked his gold Tag Heuer chronometer, and stood to go. He stretched, flicked a scrap of lint off his creased blue uniform pants, and walked to the hangar door, staring into the distance at his airplane shining in the midday sun. Then he stopped, and turned back to the helicopter fellow, tears forming in his eyes. “I love flying,” he whispered. “I sure would love to try it sometime.”

Experience the Elegance of Venice Through Private Tours to Venice

Venice is without a doubt, one of the most beautiful cities in the world, as evidenced by the countless literary masterpieces that the city has inspired. It is for this reason that private tours to Venice are so popular, especially for those who want to experience the city’s infectious romantic vibe. The Floating City, Venice is best known for being built on water. In fact, no car can access the city and canals lead to everywhere you want to go. Venice comprises of some 118 islands, interconnected with countless bridges and winding canals.

Private tours to Venice are even more enjoyable with at least a few hours spent on a Gondola ride. These small canoes are ubiquitous in the city and they are definitely the best way to get around, especially if you want a unique view of the city through the waterways. This said, walking tours of the city’s centuries old streets are also very common, especially for those who want to admire Venice’s rich collection of Gothic architecture that dates back as early as the Byzantine and Ottoman periods. Ca’d'Oro the Doge’s Palace, and Palazzo Cavalli-Franchetti are only among the must-see architectural marvels in the city.

Surrounded by water, it is no surprise that Venice is also a huge seafood haven. If you want to try a different side of Italy’s cuisine, Venice is definitely a great place to sample its seafood delights. The city doesn’t run out of fresh supply of fish, shellfish, and other seafood favorites hauled out from nearby lagoons.

Private tours to Venice are also not complete without a visit to the Burano Island, which is one of the most iconic fishing villages in the region, known for its floating houses that paint a rainbow-colored backdrop for your excursion. Another interesting island to spend a tour in is Lido or the Golden Island, which is best known for its private beaches and golden dunes.

About the Author

Italy Luxury Tours is the go to source for Exclusive Private Luxury Tours of the Italian Peninsula and its Islands. We provide Italy Private Tours, Enogastronomic Food and Wine Private Tours in most Italian Regions, Italy Off The Beaten Path Private and few selected Sport and Adventures Tours. All our Tours are fully customizable to suite your travel needs, interests and dates. Italy Luxury Tours specializes in delivering Italy Custom Tours where we will create your itinerary from scratch.