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Tuesday, August 1, 2006

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R&W's Question of the Month:

Was the U.S. Army right or wrong in awarding the Light Utility Helicopter contract to the EADS team?

Let us know, and look for your and others' responses in a future issue. Send your comments to rotorandwing@accessintel.com.

"Watch This"

Tim McAdams' column rang of so much truth. It amazes me that this remains an issue ("Watch This," April 2006, page 62).

The Sky 6 accident is similar to that B-52 pilot who was allowed to be a hot dog for so long. The sad thing is that these guys and gals kill innocent crewmembers or unsuspecting folks on the ground.

I spent 25 years as a helicopter pilot and supervisor in the Canadian Forces. I flew UH-1Ns, H-46s and H-3s before ending up as an instructor on our Bell 206. While no formal program encompassed this, several of us "old farts" pounded decision-making into our young eagles' heads from Day One. One of the things we tried to pass on was that no other aviator has a right to intimidate you to death, literally. We taught them that if another pilot ever flew in a fashion that scared them, they were probably right and to either confront the pilot or report them, depending on the circumstances and places. We even taught them that, in extreme cases, it was totally OK to take control and land or just refuse to get back into a machine and continue flying with such dangerous pilots. Most of all, we pounded into their heads that "Watch This" were the last two words they might ever hear another human say to them before a crash that could kill them. We taught them to stop the pilot and demand an explanation of what "this" is before allowing him to do it, or perhaps just refuse to take part.

Flying itself is complex. Flying in a crew can have interesting human dynamics and we never professed to have all the answers, but just wanted our young pilots to be sharp, aggressive in the proper moments and within the limits of their abilities and those of their aircraft. Should any one of them ever die, it wouldn't be after hearing, "Watch this".

I've been flying for 30 years. I still make mistakes and poor decisions, but I keep learning and catching myself. I applaud pilots of Tim's experience writing about safety and keeping us all focused on our human failings to remind us that any one of us can make mistakes.

Our job is to mitigate risks to the best of our ability and teach other pilots with less experience the dangers of those who might say to them, "Watch this". The concept is even more important with those poor bastards who strap themselves into the cabin of those machines with no hope of being able to take control. If your "Spidey Sense" tingles and you are afraid to fly with someone, then tell them to "Watch this," as you park your butt in a chair and tell them to have a nice flight, alone!

Stephane Demers
Heliport Aviation Safety Inspector
Transport Canada

Long Live the Queen

James T. McKenna's recent articles concerning MD Helicopters' demise and promised resurrection reflect the industry's collective surprise at yet another big wheel's attempt to span numerous fractures ("LUH: A Three-Horse Race?," April 2006, page 3). We all remember Evel Knievel, no? We also remember [former MD CEO Henk Schaeken]'s grand speeches and his glamorous tailored suits as well.

But we have been lifting for decades in the 269, 369, 500, 600 and 900 models to good advantage. We have also formed a user base worldwide that appreciates fine machinery.

The illustrious Lynn Tilton is not intimidated by the broken-down structure or even the big brass of Pentagon. More power to her! My hope is she will kick the stuffing out of the starched shirts, inept tech reps and lax material and parts suppliers. I also hope all the machismos can recognize Ms. Tilton's dedicated resources and attitude as much more than brag and instead applaud the methods of, what I take this timely opportunity to name, a Queen of the Aerospace Industry.

Jerry L. Chap, CEO
Alto Puerto Heliport
Alto, Ariz.

More "Why VH-71?"

Thanks to Capt. Chad Rooney for shedding some light on the mystery of the numerical order of helicopter acquisition as it relates to the U.S. Marine Corps' new VH-71 presidential transport. I may shed some more light.

Captain Rooney concludes by saying jokingly, "Just don't ask me what happened to the H-68 or H-69 series." The H-68 designation most likely went to the U.S. Coast Guard MH-68A Stingray, that service's version of the AgustaWestland A109.

There is speculation on the Internet that the designation H-69 has been skipped because of its sexual connotation. These folks might look at the side of the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN-69), USS Vicksburg (CG-69), or the USS Milius (DDG-69), among others. Remember, this is the same U.S. Department of Defense that approved the name "Growler" for the new Boeing EA-18G electronic-warfare aircraft. I believe the slang meaning of that word has changed a bit since the days of the submarine, USS Growler.

Lt. Cmdr. Todd "Stalker" Vorenkamp, U.S. Navy
Search and Rescue
Sikorsky MH-60S Knighthawk Naval Aviator
NAS Whidbey Island, Wash.

For the slang meaning of "growler," we refer readers to www.urbandictionary.com.

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