Pre-Flight Videos

Micheal Miller from Sevier County Choppers has added a whole series of videos on pre-flighting the R22. Check them out here. Even though you have a checklist to follow, I’ve found that there are dozens of signs to look for during a pre-flight. No list can cover them all–only experience and repetition. Some instructors are fine with just sticking to the list, but the more detailed your pre-flight, the better the chances that you’ll recognize when something is amiss, even if it isn’t on the checklist. One instructor that I occasionally flew with would always ask me something right before starting the lesson…”Did you notice the blue stain forming around the carburetor? Did you check the tension on the air intake hose clamps? See that little ding in the rotor blade?” Every time it was something new, and I never picked up wondering if I’d missed something that was going to bite me in the ass later.

Interview Attire From the JustHelicopters Original Forum

Excluding our first few jobs, most of us will only see one type of interview in our life. All of mine have been for office-type positions where I can expect to spend the day in a conference room, talking to everybody from mid-level, non-managers to senior-level VP’s and directors. Depending on the company, I’ve seen everything–sometimes on the same day–from business casual, jeans and T-shirts, suit and tie, and Hawaiian shirt, but the expectation for what I should be wearing is the same: suit, tie, and jacket.

Aviation is a bit different. Not only will your potential employers and colleagues dress vary depending on the company and season, but you may also be asked to demonstrate your flight proficiency. Last week on JustHelicopters, somebody asked what they should wear to an EMS interview. They got 2 types of answers–well, 3 if you count the typical smart-ass answer you get to any question posed on the Original Forum. Several pilots felt that pilots are basically treated like blue-collar employees, and therefore should arrive at an interview dressed as such. According to this opinion, ties would definitely be out. Maybe this viewpoint has a shred of merit, but not for the reason that pilots aren’t viewed as professionals. Part of the purpose of an interview is to determine your “fit” with the company, and a suit and tie doesn’t fit when your potential colleagues are in shorts and T-shirts. I’ve been to at least a couple of interviews where I was way overdressed, and it is uncomfortable. In those cases, especially when the interview included going off-site for lunch, I’ve at least left my jacket behind, and, depending on the circumstances, maybe I’ll roll up my sleeves.

The flip side of this, however, is what happens if you show up under-dressed. I’m of the mentality that suits are for weddings and interviews, and dockers/golf shirts are just ridiculous. But there have been a few events that I’ve gone to where jeans were too casual, and a suit was too much (these are also the parties where you can’t get liquored up enough to not care what anybody else thinks). So in the case of an interview, remember that you might be interviewing with people at all levels of the company, and many of them will at least be business casual.

Most importantly, you do want to portray yourself as a professional (and I think this applies to any job you apply for), and this was the opinion put forth by several hiring managers that responded to the question. Suit or slacks with a sport coat are expected, as is a tie.

Showing up in a suit/jacket and tie shows you think of yourself as a professional and expect others to do the same, not that you’re the “dork in the room”. It shows you’ve thought more than ten seconds about the interview…

Pilots are also professionals. Think of the typical first-turbine type job: half your job is customer service if you’re flying tours or in the GOM. Ditto for flight instructors. In every case, your customers want a safe, professional pilot at the controls. Your image is the first cue a customer is going to use to form this (and primacy goes a long way).

Likewise, by the time you’ve said “Hi, I’m here for an interview with…” you’ve already made an impression. What you’re wearing and your hygiene either is or is not consistent with the interviewer’s impression of a pilot. If you’re worried about getting grease on your $500 suit during the flight portion, realize that your interviewer will understand if you ask if you can change first–I have a friend who did this for an instructor job. This also shows you are thinking ahead and planning–good qualities for a pilot. I know the gulf does things a bit differently, so maybe your interview and flight aren’t on the same days (but I’m not sure about this). If you’re ever in doubt about what to wear, you can always ask your HR contact–that’s what they’re there for.

The last thing that I thought was important was the question of tattoos and piercings. Generally, you want tattoos covered up. For piercings, one HEMS pilot suggested removing them, since they can be an infection risk. Otherwise, earrings are probably fine. Eyebrow, nose, and lip, although they’re becoming more acceptable generally, might not be appropriate.

Free Shipping on FL005 Today

For any of you who’d been holding back on buying a shirt, the vendor is offering free shipping today only. Just enter the code SHIPNOW2 during checkout. It’s valid for any shop you buy from, but at least check out the ones on FL005 and the FL005 custom designer.

If you were wondering where the FL005 logo came from, it’s not just random. First, FL005 is flight level 005…or 500 feet. The symbol that makes up the zero on the left hand side is the cyclic control input you use on departure as you pass through ETL. The middle zero, well, that just had to be there. The symbol that makes up the 5 is the forward fuselage, mast, and blade of an R44. I’m not saying it doesn’t take a bit of imagination to see it. The colors are the same as on the gages. You can make your own shirt with this design, or combine it with any other, using the custom designer.


SCUBA to Flying Time

The pilot that was the subject of last week’s post on decompression sickness should have waited at least 24 hours before taking to the air. The dive they took didn’t require a decompression stop, but their cruising altitude for the flight was above 8000 MSL. Whether the airplane was pressurized or not doesn’t make a difference.

Wintertime Fuel Checks

Last week in this post I asked…

Before you pulled the helicopter out of the hanger this morning, you checked the sumps and it looked good. It’s 10 degrees C outside and snowed last night, so you’re happy this will be a quick refuel–just 3 gallons. You drive the fuel truck from the tank out to the ramp, pick up the nozzle, pop it in the tank, and get your fuel. You know the truck is topped off every night, and you’ve never had debris or water come out of this tank. So, is there a good reason to check the sumps again?

This is something I actually encountered, and the issue isn’t the risk of condensation, but introduction of snow from the fuel nozzle. The fuel truck sat outside overnight and was covered with a good bit of snow. The fuel nozzle just sits exposed and laying flat on the side of the truck. As students would fill their tanks, they’d lay the nozzle back down on the bed of the truck, where it could get packed with snow. The next guy in line, if he didn’t check the nozzle, would get a snowball blown into the tank. Once the snow melted, it’d end up at the bottom of the tank. Most students don’t check the tanks after fueling, in part because it’s a reliable source, and because there’s a bit of competition for the fuel truck (which has the waste container strapped to it). Fortunately, nobody ended up with much water in their tanks before somebody noticed what was going on.

Decompression Sickness

For some reason, I always had trouble remembering the rules for flying after SCUBA diving. I wouldn’t say it’s because I don’t care, but since I don’t dive or know anybody who does…. But the FAA seems to put a disproportionate amount of weight on this topic than it would seemingly merit: in the PHAK, it gets as much space devoted to it as stress and carbon monoxide poisoning. I’ve also seen questions on decompression sickness on the written exams (and, for the record, I answered the question correctly). And, I don’t recall the operator (or airlines, for that matter) asking us about recent diving when we did our tour in Kauai. So the whole topic seems to me to be a warning to Private Pilots, and a reminder to those who covered this info in their dive certification class.

Well, if it helps you remember the guidelines, and maybe scores you an extra couple of points on the written test, here’s a clip from the Spike TV’s show, 1000 Ways to Die. (If you need to see the whole episode in all its full-screen, HD glory, it’s available on Fancast). Yeah, I don’t normally watch this–I just happened on it while looking for MXC, which is the best thing since MST3000. I’ll be interested to see if they make it through 100 ways to die before getting axed themselves. Easy question: based on the info in the clip, how long should these guys have waited before getting in their airplane?

p.s. The caisson disease is interesting. When building bridges, sometimes the engineers will use these caissons–vessels that are sunk into the bottom of the riverbed. They then pump out all the water, and keep them evacuated using pressurized air. Workers can then descend into the caisson to do whatever they need to do for building the structure. Essentially, they’re SCUBA diving (without the “self-contained” part), and breathing pressurized air.