There I Was…

My first contribution to Vertical Magazine.

Vertical is a high quality helicopter magazine out of Canada. Beautifully designed and laid out and stuffed to the gills with quality writing and photography, it’s a real pleasure to read.

I’ve been wanting to write for Vertical for a long time, but never found a way to get my foot in the door. Until a month or two ago. I’d exchanged a few messages with one of the editors there and was passed on to another editor. He was looking for short articles for the magazine’s “There I Was…” column. This column, which is similar to AOPA’s “Never Again” column, showcases first person accounts of pilots in dangerous and/or stupid situations.

Any pilot who claims he’s never done anything stupid or dangerous is either lying or doesn’t fly very much. We all do dumb things once in a while. Those of us who are lucky, live to tell about it — and hopefully learn from it. Others don’t.

Vertical CoverThe cover of the March 2014 issue of Vertical Magazine, their largest issue ever. You can get your copy of the print edition at HeliExpo for free.

By the way, one of the reasons I occasionally read NTSB accident reports for helicopters is to learn from other pilot’s mistakes. Contrary to what the general public believes, at least 90% of aviation accidents are due to pilot error.

Anyway, I thought long and hard about what I could share with Vertical readers and decided to tell about the time I nearly killed myself trying to get over the Cascade Mountains in low visibility. I submitted it and it was accepted. It appeared in the March 2015 issue of Vertical on page 226, with the title “Scud Running in the Cascades.”

If you attend Heli Expo next month, I hope you’ll visit the Vertical booth and pick up a free copy of the magazine. Maybe one of you can send me a copy for my clip file?

6 thoughts on “There I Was…

  1. There’s not one of us (pilots) alive who has not pushed the envelope just a little. Hopefully, we learn from it and use that knowledge as a tool to either avoid the mistake again or learn how to put the odds in our favor a little more. That old expression “There are old pilots and there are bold pilots, but not many old, bold pilots” rings true. The fact that you confessed to it and have shared it with others with the intent of teaching others to learn from your experience is commendable. I know in my 43 years and 25,000 hours of flying that I am not incapable of mistake, I’ve made quite a few. I salute you as I know you to be a great fellow aviator and a most talented author!

    • Thanks, Jim. I admit that I “push the envelope” more than just occasionally when I’m flying alone. Often, I use that opportunity to learn more about the aircraft’s compatibilities and feel, as well as my capabilities as a pilot. They’re not big pushes — just little ones to experiment. This particular flight was sheer folly and I learned my lesson. I hope others can learn from it, too.

    • I guess because I usually have 170 others onboard, I don’t push the envelope much at all any more. Even when I fly little airplanes now, I don’t. Boy, I guess I’m pretty boring now!

    • I don’t push the envelope with passengers on board. Being responsible for other people’s lives is something I take VERY seriously — as I know you do, too.

      And no, you’re not boring. You’re just not flying anything fun. ;-)

    • You need to get yourself a tail dragger with fat tires and land in a few washes and desert strips. The Wayside Inn is a great destination; talk to Jason Rovey — he’d land his Citabria on the road out front.

What do you think?