Helicopter Training
October, 1998

A year ago while recovering a body from Three-Fingered Jack, we worked with Heli-jet (a Eugene-based helicopter company) to rig and short-haul the subject from the west face of the mountain. Jeremy Adolf contacted Heli-jet to see if we could schedule additional training with them and was encouraged by the reception he got. Although originally scheduled for late Spring, the event had to be put off when the fire season began early in Florida and Heli-jet's aircraft and crews were busy. The session finally happened in mid-October.

We spent about three hours around, in, and under a Bell 206. First we were given introduced to the aircraft and how to load/unload ourselves and our gear. We practiced it without the aircraft turned up; and then we all got to load, go for a short flight, and unload (two at a time) - twice! Following the flight time, we were given an introduction to short-haul hook-up and disconnect. Then it was time to see how it all worked.

With a "Rescue Randy" (borrowed from McKenzie Fire) we first tried the Ferno-Washington litter with our standard spider on a 100 foot cable. It worked just fine - no spinning, no oscillation, just a smooth ride said the pilot - even with 40 knots forward airspeed. Then we tried a "Heli-rescue Bag" and finally put the Heli-rescue bag into a SKED and flew it around. In all cases, the load was stable. Finally, we divided into two groups and Short-hauled the load between the groups allowing everyone to both attach the load to the cable and detach the load. And yes, you do get a "tingle" if you grab the load before it has a chance to "ground" the static electricity.

All in all, we received over an hour and a half of actual helicopter time. Even though it cost the Unit quite a bit of money to buy that time, our thanks to Heli-jet for making the training available and helping stretch the training dollars. All who attended learned quite a bit about working around and under helicopters.