As a pilot, I know that helicopters have vibrations. Heck, every vehicle has vibrations — some good, some bad. The point is you have to be able to determine if you should continue the mission, return to base or, in our case, just land!
I was excited about the flight. The commander and I would fly to the site — I as the PC and he as my co-pilot — recon it, refuel, have lunch and return. I was confident in my abilities to handle any situation and wanted to show him what I could do.
I recall that I was scared to death the first time I had to fly low level or punch into the clouds at 400 feet. That scared feeling is a natural reaction to a dangerous situation. While we may become desensitized to these situations, the risk is still very real.
I’ll think twice about trying to push into weather, especially when there isn’t a real need to do so. While I am glad to have experienced flying in this type of situation, I hope to never have to go through it again.
The basis of our Apache pilot training is working in a team of two while engaging targets. We do this constantly. One thing that is often overlooked, though, is the spacing and timing between aircraft and not overflying the target.
As aviation professionals, we all try our very best to accomplish the mission. Sometimes, this desire to produce the best results in the minimal amount of time works against us.