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Over the years, their has been a tradition in the aircraft cockpit amongst pilot's about the pilot in command. He is in charge of the flight and all decisions regarding the flights operation will be made by the PIC. Kind of like the captain of a ship. On this particular flight the FBI had chartered the aircraft and requested to use their own pilot to act as PIC. I was requested to go on this flight to act as an observer to comply with the companies requirements. Because of the nature of the flight and the fact that it involved the presidents security, I choose not to ask too many questions or to interfere with the operation of this flight. Jetcopters was a fast growing company and was pursuing the business of many government agencies. We were doing flights for the DEA, CIA,FBI and the IRS. For that reason I did not want to add anything negative that might reflect on future business.
Ron's questions , and I might add, very good ones, is why didn't the FBI pilot do more prior planning on his part before starting out on a flight with marginal flight conditions. Why did he elect to take two additional passengers that did not have a purpose during this flight?
I really don't know and could only guess. It may be that on prior flights he had not encountered any difficulties and that he assumed that this flight would be pretty much the same.
Out of professional courtesy to the FBI pilot involved I have omitted his name. Like myself, I know he will never forget this flight and the mention of his name, serves no useful purpose.
I would also not give myself credit for saving five lives and a million dollar helicopter. I should have offered some more helpful suggestions prior to the flight and maybe taken control of the helicopter while it was still in it's performance envelope. I do take credit for having made poor decisions on my part.
Most helicopter flight activity is done in a sea level environment or at much lower levels above sea level. The margin for error when flying a helicopter, my old flight instructor Jerry Getz used to say, is ZERO. But when the conditions are not extreme such as the 9500 feet of altitude we were operating at, some errors or conditions of flight can be recovered before disaster strikes. Sometimes a situation is allowed to go to the limit, then a more experienced pilot could take over the flight controls and recover the aircraft to a normal flight condition. This has happened to me many times in my days as a flight instructor. So I learned from this flight experience and the outcome was uneventful. Ron, thank you for asking. Back to Jetcopters in the next post.........................