By Staff Writer | October 1, 2011
I’m the CEO of GyroJet, which is based in the UK. I just wanted to offer my thanks to your senior editor personally for honoring the fallen from the war in Afghanistan (see “Carrying the Weight,” September 2011, page 4). I did as you asked and read aloud all the names you published, in the middle of my business premises. I’ve served for 26 years in the British Army, completing my time as the chief flying instructor and tactical instructor to the UK’s only Manned Airborne Surveillance Regiment, 5 (MAS) Regiment Army Air Corps. While I did not serve in Afghanistan, I did serve in many other areas of conflict where both the British Army and U.S. forces have served, mainly using the Lynx. This is not normally my area but I felt so moved by your heartfelt dedication to the fallen that I felt the need to write you. Thanks for the excellent publication.
Barry Jones, CEO
While I appreciate the point you are making with the “Carrying the Weight” column, I can’t help but take issue with the DoD-supplied list of names under the “Honoring the Fallen” section. No doubt U.S. Navy SEALs are some of the most highly trained individuals in the U.S. military.
However, they rely on aviators and other members of the military to transport them to and from “the action.” The section labeled the aviators as “Five other U.S. personnel.” As one of those Army aviators, I am troubled and offended at the media’s treatment of this tragic event. You mentioned the “effects of losing highly trained SEAL operatives,” but nothing of the highly trained aviators lost. Many articles in the media lead me to think my 12 years of service isn’t valued as much as the 12 years of service of a more “elite” individual.
I don’t agree with Mr. Healing’s statement “Vietnam flights were usually one to two hours.” (See “Helicopter Seating Forum Voices Pilot Concerns,” September 2011, page 18.) I’m a retired U.S. Army helicopter pilot with 3,800-plus hours. My typical flight time for missions in Vietnam in 1970 was somewhere around six to eight hours before mission release.
True, some days I only flew “one or two hours”, but that was not the norm. I have been retired from Army aviation for 32 years and I still suffer from chronic back pain. It is not debilitating but it is still there and I am aware of it. Veterans Affairs would not grant me a disability for the back pain because it could not be proven it was caused by the environment that I operated in; i.e., seats in both a UH-1H and AH-1S. I am not looking for support for my VA claim, just stating facts as I experienced them. I hope that in the future crewmembers will have a much better seating environment to work in.
Jay L. Dickerson
Retired U.S. Army Helicopter Pilot
Question of the Month
What more needs to be done to decrease the accident rate in helicopter EMS industry? Let us know, and look for your and others’ responses in a future issue. You’ll find contact information below.
Both Mr. Dickerson and Mr. Smith (see Feedback, September 2011, page 8) highlight one of the significant side effects of avoiding medical treatment in order to keep flying—in our survey, 64 percent (1,353) of current Army helicopter aircrew avoided medical treatment for back pain in order to keep flying, and 59 percent (1,334) of retired or discharged Army helicopter aircrew also avoided medical treatment. T
he result of failing to document the injury while still in active service is that Veterans Affairs denies disability coverage. Additionally, the VA does not record what you did while in service—they cannot tell if you drove a helicopter or a truck—which makes it extremely difficult to quantify the total disability costs associated with a specific military occupational specialty. Bottom line—make sure you get problems on the record!
R Cubed Consulting
Sikorsky has always manufactured good, safe and reliable helicopters (see “Sikorsky’s Comet,” August 2011, page 12). I was fortunate to have worked on and taught maintenance at the U.S. Army Aviation Logistics School (USAALS) involving the CH-54 and UH-60 helicopters. I’m proud to have been associated with Sikorsky helos.
Newport News, Va.
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