20 November, 1996
November 20th, 1996
At lunch we went over our food list again to finalize things. While Suruj, Mrs. Bennett and I are at helicopter training, Dr. Braaten will pack the food boxes.
Helo training was interesting. First we saw a video on how a helicopter works. The pilot uses a handle between the sits called the collective to increase and decrease the speed of the blades (go up and down). The steering controls the pitch of the blades, allow us to go forward and backwards, as well as to hover. There are pedals which controls the tail rotor, turning us from side to side. Then we discussed basic safety around the aircraft.
One of the biggest dangers in working around helos is the exposed blades. The tail rotor turns very fast and therefor isn't visible. You NEVER walk near the back of the helo. You always approach from the front. The overhead rotor is also a danger. It can tip forward, which is why you see people ducking when they walk near a helo. In unfamiliar and rough terrain, you should be cautions always to board and leave a helo from the down hill side. Remember you can't see the blades.
When we are tin the helo we where helmets that have head sets so we can talk to the pilot and each other. To get on board we walk to the front of the aircraft. We wait for the pilot to signal it is OK to approach. When a helo lands it can hover a few inches above the surface and swing around. After the pilot gives a hand signal we can board the aircraft. We are responsible for helping load the aircraft, so we discussed weight distributions. We also heard stories which let us know about various common dangers and safety points.
Afterward we got to go through an aircraft tour. We learned where the safety features like the fire extinguisher are. We learned how we can turn off the aircraft power in the event of an emergency landing. We also found where the emergency beacon is and how to insure it is on manually. We then explored the compartments and seat in the aircraft to get familiar with everything.
This is the first year the helos have not been run by the navy. This is also the first year that their is only one pilot in the aircraft. This puts responsibility for loading and safety on the passenger's head, as the pilot may not have the time to shut of the engines, so therefore can't leave the aircraft.
After helo training it was dinner time. We then went to the Wednesday evening science lecture. It was about some of the oceanic work being done in the Antarctic. This group was especially interested in Polenyas, which are areas of the ocean in the ice cap which open up but are still surrounded by ice. The ecology of these areas is hard to study, especially as the features are a little erratic, so it is difficult to plan to have the ships there at the right time.
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