The Truth about Flying Helicopters

A lighter look.

My buddy Rod called me yesterday and we chatted for about an hour. Rod’s an experienced utility helicopter pilot who got his start in agriculture (spraying), spent some time doing tours at the Grand Canyon, and worked his way into long-line work. He’s a great pilot who’s extremely conscientious, takes great care of the helicopter assigned to him, and gets the job done responsibly and safely. It’s no wonder he never has any trouble getting a job when he wants one.

Rod’s only problem is burnout. After a season working fires or moving stuff around at the end of a long line, he just wants to go home and be with his fiancé and dogs. The 14 on/14 off schedule usually sounds okay at the beginning of a season, but by the end of the season, the 14 off just aren’t enough days off. That’s when he takes a break and does other stuff.

Rod always gets a kick out of these young guys who want to be helicopter pilots. We both know that these wannabes really don’t know what it’s all about. Everyone thinks it’s a glamour job, but Rod knows better. He does the kind of work that pays well and takes the unglamorous “perks” that go with it: extensive travel to places in the middle of nowhere, crappy motels, greasy spoon restaurants. Even I can attest to the less glamorous side of flying helicopters — look at me right now, blogging from a 22-foot travel trailer, parked in the RV park/golf course in the middle of a farm town.

Although Rod’s not very computer literate, his fiancé is. They found this video on YouTube, and sent me the link last night. It takes a more realistic — yet hilarious — look at what it’s like to become a helicopter pilot. The words and video clips together make this a classic. It even has a catchy tune.


2 thoughts on “The Truth about Flying Helicopters

  1. Hey Maria,

    Funny Video. It reminded my about the time you were thinking about learning to fly. You mentioned to our brother about this kit helicopter, you buy it, put it together, and I think you get the lessons with it. Norb was living in Manhattan at the time, and thought this was something he really wanted (I thing he convinced himself he really needed it.) When he mentioned it to me I asked him where he was going to build this helicopter. “Daddy will let me build it at his house.” he told me without asking daddy first. Then I asked him when would he use it. “I can use it to go to work.” (which was about 15 blocks away from where he lived in a major city.) Say what?

    Thank god he didn’t do it, but that’s a perfect example of how people think of it as a glamorous thing to do.

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