Wednesday, February 14, 2007

They shoot helicopters, don't they.

I've spent a good deal of time in military helicopters. They aren't my favourite place to be. In fact, given a choice, I would rather be in a fixed-wing aircraft any day. When things go wrong helicopters have a crappy ability to glide to a landing. And they do that auto-rotate thing which makes the most topsy-turvy circus ride look positively tame.

I don't know how to fly, which might have made my outlook worse. I was always in the after end of any helicopter, helpless in the event of an emergency.

I have never been shot at in a helicopter, but I have been in more than one that had to land due to some failure in the mysterious combination of parts that keeps it airborne. On those occasions the pilot went into a rapid-fire description of the problem on the air-ground circuit, keeping his air-controller (on the ground or in the ship) informed of absolutely everything that was going on.

I have listened to helicopters, while I was on the ground, which were experiencing ground-fire in a combat zone. Those pilots, too broke into a rapid and clear description of events. If they were hit, they said so - immediately.

Military helicopters rarely go anywhere without positive and continuous communications with a controller on the ground. They like to stay in touch, just in case something goes wrong. When a military helicopter abruptly stops communicating with the controller, especially if the helo is in a hostile area, the worst is assumed until other information is forthcoming. If a helicopter was in an area where it could have been shot down and radio communications ceases for no explainable reason, the possibility that it was shot down becomes the focus of both operations and rescue.

Which is why you have to go read this post at Hullabaloo.

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