Today Was A Weird Day
As some of you know, I live in South Georgia (yeeehaaaw!). And we’ve been having some bad storms the past couple of days. Well, today I’m driving to an appointment (out in the middle of nowhere), in weather that resembled a foggy monsoon. All of a sudden, a helicopter drops out of a low hanging cloud, just a couple hundred feet off the ground ahead of me. It hovers there for a second, then starts flying over toward a field and lands. The rain was coming down in buckets and visibility was low.So, I drive down a dirt road adjacent to the field where the copter landed. I debated running across the muddy field in my good shoes and clothes to make sure everyone in the copter is alright. I decided not to; but rather, wait in my car to see if they try to signal me for assistance. During my wait, I'm thinking....hmmm, that's the same model helicopter I've seen Donald Trump fly around in. Nah, it couldn't be "The Don", but it could be someone just as rich. How would I pitch these people? Ask if they're ok, then hand'em my card? Is blowing off an appointment, ruining my shoes and clothes worth it for a low percentage situation? Well, I waited a couple of minutes, then left. (They were gone, on my return trip.) Then, this afternoon, I'm driving down a city street, when I notice 2 cars ahead of me, a set of tires go flipping into the air. An elderly man driving an old Ford LTD smashed into a pick-up, flipping it over onto the LTD. No serious injuries. (Still not sure how it happened, since all I saw were the wheels flipping over.) Yeah, it was a strange day...but I got the account!
Ah,hmm, I’ll put my ex-helicopter pilot hat on for a moment and say that the heavy rain could have been a factor. The Donald’s helicopter, a Sikorsky S-76, can be flown IFR. That is, in low viz, just like an airliner. However, flying in heavy rain does not a happy helicopter make. In fact it can be dangerous. The moving parts in the rotor’s drivetrain don’t play nice with rain. And copious amounts of rain can overpower the helicopter’s turbines. Rain has put out more than a few. Ironically, the most infamous case, a Southern Airways DC-9 had a double flameout over Georgia. Still, I doubt S-76’s problem was that serious, as they would have been there when you returned. That said, I’m surprised the pilots put down in a field. If the weather was solid IFR these guys were blind until a hundred or so feet off the ground. Their charts and avionics will give them a lot of information, but neither would have kept them from hitting a hundred foot tree or tall antenna. Spikes, as we use to call them. Impaling one’s self on one of those things will ruin your day for sure. If the weather was that bad, they shouldn’t have taken off. Of course, I somehow lived through some bad decesions on the flight line myself. So, I really shouldn’t talk.Ford LTD? Wow, those are classics now. Glad no one was hurt.
And one more tidbit of useless helicopter trivia. Speaking of the “The Donald,” back in about 1990 or so a helicopter carrying three of his top executives crashed in New Jersey on its way from NYC to one of the AC casinos. Trump didn’t own the twin turbine helicopter, an Agusta 109. He was renting it.Apparently what happened was the helicopter had developed a hairline crack in one of its rotor blades. About 35 miles from AC, flying at 2800 feet, a six foot section of one of the main rotors seperated from the rest of the blade. From there it got real ugly real fast. The unbalanced rotor system tore itself from the ship, taking the main rotor, transmission, and tail rotor with it. At that point the rest of the helicopter was just a hunk of aluminum 2800 feet in the air without wings. It crashed onto the median of the Garden State Parkway with the usual outcome. Not pretty and definately one of the scariest crashes I've ever read about. But to the point, that you don't mess with anything that will screw with the rotor system. In this case, if I recall correctly, the rotor that failed had undergone a minor repair.