Amen, and it’s about time this topic is brought to light! (See “Helicopter Seating Forum Highlights Back and Neck Pain,” page 18.) I’m a retired U.S. Army pilot. Like many others I did not visit the flight doc for my back problems. I’ve been retired for seven years and continue my fight with the VA to call my back problems service connected. I’d be willing to accept zero percent disability, but it’s very insulting to me when the VA sends me letter after letter stating it was non-service connected. I joined the army when I was 18 with no back problems, retired almost 29 years later with debilitating back issues that affect my everyday quality of life. I always suspected, but did not realize [that] the problem was so widespread. Thank you for the article and attention to the issue. I hope it helps all well-deserving vets find justice. I would also advise all active duty aviators to report their back problems and have them recorded in their medical records.
Senior Air Safety Investigator, Instructor U.S. Department of Transportation
Transportation Safety Institute Oklahoma City, Okla.
I wanted to express my appreciation for Mike Redmon’s article on IIMC in the March issue of Rotor & Wing (See “IIMC: What Not to Do,” page 68). Thank you for highlighting some of the more realistic aspects of this emergency.
As a former U.S. Army OH-58D Kiowa Warrior instructor pilot and instrument flight examiner, I applied these very same principles alongside other instructors who emphasized the danger of IIMC encounters. It’s a VFR-only aircraft with no navaid receivers. The GPS was pretty accurate though. I taught my students how to overlay published instrument approach procedures utilizing only GPS coordinates. Navaid coordinates are right there in our pubs. Since all Army aviators are instrument-rated, there was no good reason to abandon the techniques and procedures that have previously been learned.
Immediately fall back on the procedures, and an inadvertent encounter with IMC is no different than a planned flight into IMC. Thanks again for “keeping it real.”
Offshore Helicopter Pilot
Panama City, Fla.
While reading the article, “Safe Flying In Unsafe Weather," (July 2011, page 38) in search of safe flying ideas for my students, I was left wondering maybe it’s safe to fly in unsafe weather. While I agree with Mark Robins’ thesis that safe flying starts with smart decision-making, I came away wondering if your audience of inexperienced pilots will now have a more difficult decision whether to go fly or not. Paradoxical statements abound.
“High winds are a planning issue but no problem.” Until poor planning takes you into them; what do I do then? Also, “flying through heavy clouds and fog is no issue; all helicopters can do that all day long” is followed in the proceeding paragraph with “The majority of helicopters are VFR only.” While talking about thunderstorms, Mr. Robins states correctly that, “Violent conditions in and around thunderstorms can exceed rotorcraft structural limitations and bring a helicopter down in seconds.” But then the article proceeds to state, “Flying near a thunderstorm does not necessarily represent a major safety issue.” So I can fly near a thunderstorm, but shouldn’t be around one?
It’s not pilots “quickly getting into situations that overwhelm the capabilities of the helicopter,” but pilots allowing themselves to get into situations in which they are overwhelmed. Weather-related fatal incidents will not drop until more pilots understand the dangers of poor decision-making. Let’s not make this decision any more difficult.
The maker of the Boeing CH-46E Sea Knight was mistakenly attributed to another manufacturer on page 40 of the Training News section in the August 2011 issue. We regret the error.
â–¶ R&W’s Question of the Month What operational lessons can be learned from the Aug. 6, 2011 crash of a U.S. National Guard Boeing CH-47D Chinook in Afghanistan? Let us know, and look for your and others’ responses in a future issue. You’ll find contact information below.