Probably not, there’s always one!
So, what separates man from beast? Or in other words fixed wing pilots from helicopter pilots? I’m aware of glider pilots too but you fly using magic and I shall take no part of it!
Many people have looked into the psychology of all this and it does present some interesting reading or a killer of 5 minutes, depending on your attention span.
If you’re a pilot of one, you regard the other as a strange and slightly wayward individual for not choosing the “right” type of aircraft, which is inevitably the one you fly.
And then there are those of us in the middle that love both asking “Why can’t we all just get along?”
We share the same airspace, we share the same headaches that the aviation authorities seem to enjoy inflicting upon us and we share the same pains of day to day operations.
So where do these differences come in?
Good question, I’m glad you asked! It all comes into the aviating.
If your engine fails in an aeroplane, “Deck chairs out lads, we have the next 10 minutes to decide whose round it is at the pub, make a radio call, fiddle with some knobs (stop laughing) and think about eventually landing the thing.” Okay, so maybe not as relaxed as that but I say that from a jaded helicopter pilot perspective!
If your engine fails in a helicopter, depending on the aircraft, you can have as little as one second to react and enter autorotation (helicopter’s version of gliding) before your blades slow down that much that you can’t prevent them stopping and you become what is known in the industry as “a brick with pretty lights.”
How’s the deck chair looking now?
So whilst some people would then ponder if flying helicopters was the best decision in life, most helicopter pilots just shrug their shoulders and think “yeah, well, they’re too much fun to fly to stress over that little detail.”
There is light at the end of the tunnel!
Say you’re having a lovely flight, enjoying the views as they pass by and you turn to your young, enthusiastic, excited passenger to see their cheeks puffed out. “Bugger.”
For a helicopter pilot, putting down in a field rather quickly and letting the young chap out to wreak havoc on a bush would be the sensible option.
For a fixed wing pilot, handing them a sick bag and hoping the bag holds is about the only option till you get to the next airport. Not ideal!
If you fly autogyros, I can’t honestly say I know what you’d do so please feel free to share!
Sadly, in this particular instance, the sick bag didn’t even get near the poor chap’s mouth and instrument failure quickly ensued due to them being covered. He felt much better after that so it was an all too slow flight to the nearest airport for me to take a visit to the bathroom and ask for a spare shirt. The joys of commercial flying!
Did I mention the temperature was pushing 40 Degrees Celsius? Ahhhh yes, I can smell it now….
These differences in how the aircraft fly inevitably change a pilot’s psychology. Us helicopter pilots are a twitchy bunch!
But we all love flying. We all have challenges that we have to face and deal with before and after we leave the ground. It doesn’t hurt to sit down over a beer (no flying the next day!) and chat about what we fly. A bit of mutual respect and understanding goes a long way when we have to share the airspace and airports.
And after all, what pilot doesn’t want to talk about flying!
Keep your needles in the green.