Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Dope On A Rope

Yesterday might have been my wife's birthday (Happy Birthday to Fi, who also took all these photos BTW), but I got a great present in the form of participating in a winching demonstration at the Life Flight Open Day, after winning a radio competition a few days ago to play the role of sandbag/volunteer/item to be winched. That's me with the paramedic on the end of the cable.

The helmet helped, but it wasn't as noisy or windy as I was expecting, and they haven't dropped anyone yet, so I wasn't worried about falling. It was great fun; it honestly never occured to be to be nervous or anything. Watching the helicopter get closer and closer was cool, until it eventually blotted out the sun as it came to the hover about fifteen feet above me.

Since the crewman's head is only about a foot away, and you're trying not to move around too much as requested (as well as enjoy myself, my main focus was to listen to the guys whose job this is, and not do anything dumb), you can't actually see much on the winch. I did have a surreal moment when we got level with the aircraft, and I looked down it's length and thought "Do you realise just where you are right now? You're hanging outside a helicopter thats forty feet in the air!". It was cool.
Safely retrieved we flew past the crowd, who were waving so it seemed only polite to wave back. We then picked up a few more draw-winners and headed off for a flight around the city.
 Did I mention I was picked up from the back of a fire engine? Even more awesome points.
As well as being  a good launch pad the airport appliance was a great place to watch passing traffic while waiting for the helicopter to launch. I have terrible posture in this shot, but I blame the harness. I've spent a bit of time wearing them for this and that over the years and they never make you look good :)
So now I can cross being winched into an airborne helicopter off my to-do list. It was a privilege and a lot of fun, and thanks to everyone at the Life Flight Trust and Classic Hits who made it happen (hopefully circumstances like these are the only time I get to do this!).

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