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Entries for August 2013

CRM – The Last Line of Defense!

by Randy Mains

Imagine you’re an aviation doctor and you hold the cure to save lives in a deadly segment of helicopter aviation.  One day you learn that the FAA has finally mandated that all Part 135 operators must be administered this cure, or they cannot fly.  You gladly offer the cure, knowing it can save lives.  However, you soon discover that the parent (the helicopter company) of the patient (the flight crew) doesn’t want to give the full dose because of the added time and expense it takes to administer it.  So the helicopter company waters down the dose to near microscopic proportions, which satisfies the letter of the law, while successfully avoiding the spirit of the law.  But in their effort to save time and money, they render the cure totally useless.  It is my opinion that’s what’s happening in many HEMS programs.

As a working helicopter pilot of 22 years, I have watched the bumpy business roads that MD Helicopters has travelled.  Although the legacy of MD is much older than its owner, Lynn Tilton, it seems like it may have inherited its resilient scrappiness from the company’s matriarch.

RPMN: Tell me about your first flight.
My first flight was in an R-22 in beautiful Bend, Oregon.  I remember walking out to the helipad and being in utter shock at the size of these tiny helicopters!  After working as mechanic and flying as aircrew on MH60-Jayhawk helicopters in the Coast Guard for seven years, the downsize was truly astounding.  However, I was completely charmed… that is, until I found out I had to carry a cushion just to reach the yaw pedals.  Needless to say, my ‘glory’ moment was comically diminished.

On October 5, 2005, I was paired up with Parry Jameson in one of our patrol helicopters.  It was a Wednesday afternoon, around 3:00.  It was time for us to wind down and hand the baton to the night shift.

On our way back, Parry and I noticed that we were a little low on fuel.  We were almost over our base at Gillespie Field in El Cajon, getting ready to land, when we got a radio call.

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