Mike and Dave had put in lots of hours together in the 206 Jet Ranger. Accessing tough locations, slinging loads, or bucketing water on fires; they had learned to work together safely and efficiently.
Mike was laying out a block and he planned for Dave to pick him up at a clearing they had identified on their morning flight. Just to be sure, Mike and Dave both took GPS waypoints of the pick-up location before he was dropped off.
The layout went faster than anticipated and Mike ended up at the clearing with some time to spare. The clearing looked tight for space now that he was on the ground so he got out his ax and cut down the alder that might be in the way of the tail rotor.
As the helicopter approached the clearing, Dave radioed about a storm that was quickly closing in. As Dave was landing, Mike kept an eye on the tail rotor for him to make sure it didn’t hit any brush or slash.
There was a rush to get going but Mike took it slow. He watched for Dave’s signal that it was OK to approach, then he carefully walked to the front of the helicopter on the downhill side, and put his cruise vest and bear spray in the rear cargo compartment.
As they lifted off, it became apparent that they would have to pick their way home, dodging storm clouds, fog and the mountainous terrain. With some effort, Dave was able to find a valley that they could follow to town where the fog wasn’t too bad. After dropping down into the valley, Mike suddenly remembered the power line construction plan he had seen for this area! Not wanting to hit the newly constructed line in the poor conditions, they quickly turned around and headed for a nearby camp to wait for a break in the weather.
Passengers are an important part of the aircraft safety team. Develop a good working relationship and communicate with your pilot. Ask questions and be familiar with the aircrafts safety procedures and the location of emergency equipment.