An Eventful Flight

My flight time has been limited recently because of some pay and budget issues at our unit. But, thankfully, I was able to return to flying the weekend of 9/16.

CW3 Phillip Brashear and WO1 Bert Stover finish startup tasks for their Black Hawk helicopter just before taking off vertically from Meadow Farm in Glen Allen, Va. (Gordon Stover)
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I was a little nervous -- both because I'm still a rookie pilot and because I figured my skills might have become rusty in the month since I'd last flown. It turned out that my skills were okay, but I was right to be nervous.

Our mission was to drop off a couple of aircraft for maintenance at Ft. Bragg, N.C., starting from Richmond, Va. We started the aircraft and taxied out to the helipad. Waiting for clearance to take off, I felt the information I needed flow back into my mind and realized there wasn't a reason to be nervous. I pulled up on the collective control, my stomach dropped as the Black Hawk up and we were aloft.

Midway through the trip, we experienced some adrenaline producing excitement. I was on the controls while the instructor pilot was making radio calls and navigating. He had just called to announce us to a local private airport which didn't have an operating control tower, when I saw a yellow crop duster plane heading straight for us at my 12 o'clock.

It was at our altitude, not more than a half mile away. The pilots in the aircraft behind us warned of the hazard ahead over the radio. Instinctively I banked 60 degrees to the left to avoid a collision.

When we landed, the crews talked about the incident, of course. And I realized my skills were coming along. If the same thing had happened six months ago, I probably would have hesitated and collided with the crop duster.

Saturday's flight was less eventful, but fun in a different way.

We started out early to take the aircraft to Glen Allen, Va. so members of the public could hop into the cockpit to see what a Black Hawk was like up close.

After a 30 minute flight, we arrived in Glen Allen and had to hover around to find the designated landing zone in a small field. The landing was a little tricky since we didn't have a crew chief onboard to help us make sure the aircraft was clear of obstacles, but we eventually made it to the ground, shutdown and opened the helicopter to the public.

The adults asked questions about the physics of flying, but were hesitant to touch anything. The children flipped all the switches while pretending to fly, and asked us how fast the Black Hawk could go and where the missiles were. We explained that only Special Forces Black Hawks carry missiles.

When it was time head back, the other pilot and I took two turns each inspecting the position of every switch before hooking up the battery. Then we asked the aircraft to please start up without any issues and were thankful that it did.

In order to keep from blowing over all of the nearby vendors' tents, we took off without hovering slowly, reaching 400 feet above the ground in about five seconds and giving my stomach another turn. We made our way back to Richmond in about 30 minutes, landed, moored the aircraft and called it a day.

By Bert Stover |  September 26, 2005; 10:08 AM ET  | Category:  Work
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I was reading another article on the Post site about Kate Moss and her cocaine habit. Poor kid. Hopefully, being a cocaine user won't hurt it career -- after all, it didn't effect George W. Bush's career.

Posted by: E. Etage | September 26, 2005 01:15 PM

Enough of your Administration ass-kissing.Look around you...who's infavor of this GD war???

Posted by: Bob Hamilton | September 28, 2005 06:13 PM

Stomach churning in a chopper? Ok, I believe it, BUT you're the pilot! What about "The rising tickle in my stomach increased as negative g's heralded my rapid ascent." Hooah

Posted by: c | October 7, 2005 04:39 AM

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