Monday, July 20, 2015

The zen of large helicopter management

A lot of people couldn't handle working with a type 1 helicopter.  You're usually either waiting for a fire, or at a fire, which means you're sitting around.  A lot, like 16 hours a day a lot.  You probably won't ever see the fire, if there is one.  How do you stay sane?  I'm glad you asked, because on my last assignment I came up with quite a few ways.

1.  Start out sitting in the vehicle by the helicopter.  Do this as long as you can stand it.  When the temperature starts to approach the 100 degree mark, move to the lawn of the FBO.  Sit there like homeless people until it gets windy.  Move into the FBO and observe the glider pilots.  Why do they all dress like they're going on safari?

2.  Go for a run on a trail.  Wait till it's pretty hot, like 90 degrees.  Go farther than you meant to, and then realize it's all uphill on the way back.  Feel like you're getting heat exhaustion.  Lie in the creek until the feeling passes.

3.  Find a swimming hole.  Go swimming.  Then get an email from your mom about someone who died from a brain eating amoeba in water in the same town.  Check for symptoms. When you forget something, blame it on the amoeba.

4.  Read lots of books.  About 8 of them during a 14 day assignment is about right.

5.  Walk back and forth to fire camp.  Compete with your trainee for steps walked.

6.  Forage for chocolate milk at the caterer.

7.  Set your trainee up with the paperwork duties.  Say it all has to get done that night, then realize it's 10 pm and your trainee is getting hangry.  Feel like a bad trainer.

8.  Hang out with the pilots and mechanics and listen to stories.  It's a plus if your pilot was in Vietnam, because there aren't very many of them still flying.

9.  Do pushups and lunges every hour.  Eye your trainee, who only worked out twice in two weeks, and silently curse him because a. he's a man, and b. he's pretty young; both factors mean he will bounce back pretty quickly.

10. Keep trying to get on the internet.  Realize you can't get on the internet.  Keep trying anyway.

11.  Exclaim that you're living in squalor and clean out the vehicle, finding a bag of chips you forgot about.  Score!

12.  Figure out people's celebrity lookalikes.

13.  Chase the shade around.  Become an expert on telling time without looking at a watch.

14.  Refuse to sit in the radio trailer because you want to acclimate.  Do this so well that you get cold when it's 70 degrees out.  It's a dry heat, anyway.

15.  Become unreasonably excited about clean socks.


  1. 16. Mentally compose next accidental-firefly blog, complete with well-honed sense of humor.

  2. Sounds like a lot of hurry up and wait. And wait....

  3. Love this....Hahahahahaha, Sounds as if you have the routine all figured out, but I'm sure there are times of intense fire concentration, also.


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