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Helicopter vs. Plane Crashes

29 Jan

In light of the recent tragedy of the helicopter crash with Kobe Bryant, I had a friend ask me what the ratio is for crashes vs. that of a plane.

Helicopters have twice the crash ratio than that of a small plane. I am sure that this crash was weather related and related to visibility of the pilot. In small aircraft, weather causes a lot of problems. You have to have a special instrument rating to be able to fly when there is rain or fog. This pilot had the rating but the weather may have been more than he bargained for in the long run.

I used to fly on the Robinson R44 helicopters because they were a model we could take a doors off and use a harness in order for me to photograph. I was 15 years old when I did my first photo shoot from a helicopter but that was a National Guard helicopter (which are much safer). Primarily the R44’s are not that safe because experienced pilots don’t want to fly anything that small. Their crash rate is higher than other models of copters.

If you look back through some of the web sites that I made through the years, you can spot some aerials. I quit doing it for several reasons. One was that when drones became popular, it didn’t make financial sense anymore. The second reason was that if you have the door off of a helicopter and you’re hanging out to shoot, even though you have a harness, you need to be prepared for a sudden lurch or turn. You need to have one hand free to grab the camera and one hand free to grab the frame to steady yourself and catch your weight because you can swing quite a bit in a harness.

A lot of people don’t realize this but I’ve had RA (Rheumatoid Arthritis) for years now. It’s in my right elbow. My right arm is not reliable enough to catch my full weight on some days. So I quit putting myself into a position where my safety might rely on that right arm.

Although I wanted to learn to fly planes, I never thought that I was cut out to be a helicopter pilot. I find the dynamics of the craft to feel unnatural. Some are meant to be helicopter pilots and some are not. Although I looked into Whirly Girls, I decided it was not for me.

You feel very bad for the families and friends when something like this happens.

I have a friend who was just telling me he had a helicopter fly him to the volcano in New Zealand right when that boating accident happened. I wouldn’t want to be there in a helicopter either because if you have a problem, where’s that helicopter going to put down? Not in the volcano I hope. Tourist helicopters are notorious for problems.

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