It was Mr Bunches' and Mr F's 8th birthdays last Friday, and has now become tradition, Mr Bunches' present was "The Gift Of Transportation." He's a nut for any kind of transportation, especially flying ones, so last year we did a plane ride, and this year, we found a helicopter to take him on:
So about 2 last Saturday, Sweetie and I and Mr Bunches and Mr F went to the Baraboo area airport -- Sweetie and Mr F to watch, with her parents, and me and Mr Bunches to CHALLENGE THE SKY! (TM).
We had to have a "safety briefing" before we got on. The "safety briefing" amounted to: DO NOT GET CHOPPED IN HALF BY HELICOPTER BLADES, which I was told (by Cracked, so maybe it's not authoritative?) can't happen, but we were warned several times not to go past the doors of the helicopter and to be very careful around the rotors.
As it turns out "Safety Briefing" on a helicopter is sort of irrelevant, since nothing feels less safe than a helicopter, especially one with the pilot's door removed so he can enjoy the air and I can enjoy* feeling like I am going to drop out like a rock.
We got in, and put on our headsets:
|One of us is a bold, intrepid pilot who someday will walk on the moon.|
He brought his dad.
And then put on our regulation-model 'safety harness,' which is the exact same seatbelt that you would find in a 1985 Plymouth Gran Prix, and felt just as safe and secure.
Our pilot then started the engine and by way of explaining what all those instruments were, pointed at the yellow light and said something about a clutch. He was obviously a pro. My favorite part was where that thing on the right appeared to be saying that the ground was already tilted in relation to us.
I was also reassured by how often the pilot never seemed to look at his instruments.
Then we took off. Unlike airplanes, there's none of that stuff where you taxi and then begin to accelerate and then feel the air pressure lift you and hold you in the air the way God and science and probably Leonardo da Vinci* intended.
*or was it Charles Darwin? Never mind.
Nope. Helicopters rip you right into the air ("We don't need no runways," said our pilot, laughing) and then struggle to stay in the air every goddang second of the ride. If you've ever been on an airplane, even a small one, you know that airplanes have a feel -- at least when it's not turbulent -- of smoothness. This is because their wings make it very, very difficult for an airplane to fall out of the sky.
Helicopters, on the other hand, are a giant hunk of metal the weight of several SUVs that are simply yanked into the sky by sheer brute force of engine-ry and then held there -- hopefully!-- by that same brute force. Helicopters' rotors have to lift them using that same Bernoulli principle but they're not just coasting around using air pressure to hold them up. They are yanking themselves left and right and up and forward all at the same time and they even need a second rotor -- that deadly back one -- to keep themselves from being flung headlong around like so much flotsam.
And it feels that way. I have never felt less safe than when I was sitting in that helicopter, and I've been in 7 car accidents.
|The views were great, but, then, when you expect to die at any second, everything seems beautiful.|
My views on the relative insanity of helicopter flight were not shared by Mr Bunches, who kept saying "WOW!" and "WHOA!" and who convinced our pilot to approach the landing area via a series of S-turns that had us twist so that one side or the other was parallel to the ground. This is looking out the left side, directly below us at our shadow on the ground:
|If you look closely, you can see my shadow gripping the seat shadow for all it's worth.|
Mr Bunches loved it, though, and that's what counts. That and that I didn't have a heart attack, which probably would've put a damper on the day.