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My Two Cents Worth - Randy Mains

Wouldn’t it be great if there were a big fat red warning light on the instrument panel that would illuminate whenever we were putting our passengers and ourselves in harm’s way?  Well there is, but it’s not on the instrument panel – it’s in your head.

Research has shown that nearly 80% of all aircraft accidents in history have had an element of human error, which means it isn’t stick-and-rudder skills that are killing people – bad pilot decision-making is killing people.

Meet a Rotorcraft Pro Questionnaire – Kevin W. Nelson

RPMN: What is your current position?

I’m the founder, owner, president and ‘chief bottle washer’ of Nelson AeroDynamiX, Corp. and its division, Aero Alliance.  I am a contributing editor with Vertical magazine; so don’t tell them I’m on your pages!  I also work in a close affiliation relationship with Chase Aviation for giving a fresh, honest, thorough and informed service to buyers and sellers of helicopters as a “tag team,” doubling the value. (www.chaseaviation.com)

Safety’s Hazard
By Scott Skola

Safety and helicopter maintenance have had a long – and interesting – relationship.  During the past two decades, safety has played an ever-increasing role and is now one of the primary influences on each and every task mechanics perform.

But can too much initiative in the name of safety have a more negative than positive effect in a maintenance environment?  Can safety actually become a hazard? 

"What you talk’n bout, Willis?”

No, this is not about removing basic safety procedures, nor regressing to the old days of bathing in MEK, or working 48 hours straight to change an S-76 transmission.  This topic focuses on the current shift to apply abstract safety initiatives directly into aircraft maintenance procedures. 

TAKE 5! A new idea
By Ian Robinson

CRM, ADM, BLA, BLA, BLA: What do they really mean? Lets get specific, look at ourselves, and discover if we are accident-prone.

Safety Introspection

We all work in inherently dangerous environments. Will you take a five-minute journey into self-discovery? If 65-80% of all aviation accidents are related to human error, let’s attack the statistics - We can learn from others.

My 2 Cents (December 2013)

Randy Mains

Six years after his historic flight, Orville Wright lost a friend in an aircraft accident.  He lamented, “What is needed is better judgment, rather than better skill.” 

    It’s been proven, whether flying single pilot or multi-crew, that faulty decision-making has caused far more aviation accidents than poor flying ability. 

    An element of crew resource management (CRM) examines nine hazardous attitudes and behaviors that can impede good judgement and decision-making. By identifying these behaviors and applying the anecdote to counteract them, you can break a vital link in the error chain and avoid having an incident or accident.

In its quest to bring the global helicopter accident rate to zero, the International Helicopter Safety Team (IHST) has analyzed more than 1,000 U.S. civil helicopter accidents and their causes. Having done so, the IHST’s investigators have come to two clear conclusions: (1) Helicopter accidents are ultimately caused by incorrect human decisions, and (2) the evidence shows that reducing the accident rate to zero is actually possible.

“After going through the NTSB investigations in detail, one thing has become obvious: No one has invented a new way to crash a helicopter,” says Matt Zuccaro, IHST co-chair and president of Helicopter Association International. “The reasons helicopters crashed ten years ago remain the same today, and all of their causes can be traced back to the people who flew, serviced, or managed the helicopters.”

One of the buzzwords used on TV by the politicians and talking heads is the word “paradigm.”  In fact, using the word in a sentence over a beer with buddies may cause their impression of your IQ to go up a couple points.  We commonly hear the pundits say things like, “It’s the new paradigm” or “The paradigm has shifted.”

Looking closer at the word paradigm, we see it means “a pattern of something; a model.”

Paradigm Aerospace Corporation (PAC) has been in the helicopter business since 1976.  Given their longstanding reputation as a “model” for quality, having the word paradigm as part of their name nearly four decades later almost seems prophetic.

Meet a Rotorcraft Pro – Dean Springer

RPMN: What is your current position?

Presently, I guess you would say I am semi-retired, meaning, I have retired from my first career as a Senior Special Agent and former Customs Service Pilot after 20 years.  I no longer fly full-time, but fly relief or on-call by the day.  This is usually one-to-three days a week as needed in a Bell 206BIII, King Air B100, or Beechcraft Baron.

Back in 2011, an interesting movie was released named Moneyball.  The movie was based on the story of Oakland A’s general manager, Billy Beane.  His former General Manager (GM), Sandy Alderson, mentored him in the art of sabermetrics (statistical analysis).  In turn, Beane successfully assembled a lower-budget team based on emerging prospects and undervalued veterans that consistently performed.  Most other Major League Baseball teams during this time were interested in high-priced superstars that may or may not have consistently produced.   One theme I noticed throughout the movie was consistent, well placed singles beat a few home runs every time.

Story by Rick Weatherford Photos by Aris Helicopters In the early 1950s, the Sikorsky S-55 made its mark when the 600 horsepower (hp) piston-powered helicopter realized its first use in the world ...

It appears the Australians put a higher value on patient safety than our FAA, NTSB and even Congress.  That’s a pretty strong statement, isn’t it?  Let me tell you how I arrived at that conclusion.

When my article “The Power of CRM” appeared in the August 2013 issue of Rotorcraft Pro my wife, Kaye, and I were in Australia, flown there by the Aeromedical Society of Australasia so that I could deliver two keynote speeches at their 25th scientific meeting of HEMS operators. 

My first keynote address was entitled “US Aeromedical Accidents – What can Australasian HEMS learn from our Mistakes?”  On the second day I delivered a keynote address entitled “CRM in Aeromedical Operations - Why CRM/AMRM (Air Medical Resource Management) is Absolutely Vital to HEMS Safety.” 

STAR Flight (Shock Trauma Air Rescue) is the Air Operations Division of Travis County, Texas.  It is a public safety air rescue program that is unique because it performs critical transport, firefighting, rescue, and limited law enforcement support.  STAR Flight is based in Austin and serves not only the citizens of Travis County, but also 19 other counties within a 75-mile radius.  The majority of the calls are to assist those who are experiencing medical problems or suffering from traumatic injuries from motor vehicle crashes or other activities.  When requested, STAR Flight regularly transports very sick patients in rural hospitals to larger, better-equipped hospitals.

Meet a Rotorcraft Pro – Lyn Burks

What is your current position?
I am fortunate to wear several hats, which keeps things interesting.  I am the Owner / Developer of Justhelicopters.com and VerticalReference.com. I am the Co-Owner / Editor In Chief of Rotorcraft Pro Magazine.  I also produce the HeliSuccess Career Development and NightCon Night Vision Conferences. Additionally, although I no longer fly full time, I still fly as a contract pilot several days per month. I am current in the Agusta A109E and the Sikorsky S76 C+.

Randy Mains:  My Two Cents Worth


The following is the beginning of my latest book, The Reluctant Activist.
I stood next to the helicopter’s tail plane, looking up in disbelief at the massive damage I’d done.  The accident was entirely my fault.  I knew I shouldn’t have been anywhere near a cockpit this morning.  My mind wasn’t focused on flight training, but I decided to fly anyway.  It was a stupid mistake.  The reality of knowing how badly I’d screwed up sickened me. As well as losing my wife to another man recently, it seemed likely I could now lose my job.  This was not turning out to be one of my better mornings.

Helicopter Emergency Medical Services And Weather Related Accidents

by Bryan Butler

Many organizations are looking at ways to help make the Helicopter Emergency Medical Services (HEMS) safer.  The FAA is working with FAR Part 135 Operators along with Organization such as HAI, CAAMS and AAMT to bring in voluntary solutions.  One simple solution to help alleviate many of the night HEMS Controlled Flight Into Terrain (CFIT) accidents is by changing the night VFR visibility minimums for FAR Part 135 HEMS Operations.  But what should they be changed to?  To help determine that answer let us first look at the root cause of many of our fatal HEMS accidents since January 2000.

6 Tips to Keep Your Helicopter Career Moving Forward

By Janie Foster & Stacy Sheard


1.  Be in control
In order to move forward in your career, you need to exercise some semblance of control over it. You are accountable for your own success; stay proactive, think ahead, make goals, build a timeline, look for opportunities, and be adaptable enough to change plans when an unexpected opportunity comes your way.

2.  Stay positive
If you think your dream job is impossible, then you may as well give up now.  Your attitude will determine your success. It is easier to reach something if you are optimistic, see possibility, and actually believe it is attainable.  Positive people are inspirational and a pleasure to be around – no one wants to hang out with a Negative Nancy.

Aviation Specialties Unlimited
Night Vision – Business Vision
Article, Photos & Video by Lyn Burks


Helicopter flight training wearing Night Vision Goggles (NVG) is as exciting and interesting as any other new skill or technique that can be learned in a helicopter.  It’s right up there with learning touchdown autorotations!  The one and only buzzkill is that, as the name of the device suggests, you must be using them at night.  It’s all fun and games --- until your flight-training block is from 0200 – 0400.

Meet a Rotorcraft Pro  – Adam Aldous

RPMN: What is your current position?
I am the President and CEO for Night Flight Concepts, Inc. where I oversee operations for our company.  I continuously set our corporate vision and business strategies that align with current and future business opportunities in NVG (Night Vision Goggles) related activities.

RPMN: What does Night Flight Concepts do?
Our company is a comprehensive NVG solution provider.  We specialize in premier NVG training and maintenance capabilities for all sizes and types of aviation organizations around the world.

White Hot: Adding a Thermal View with EVS
By Rick Adams

I was driving on the turnpike through western Massachusetts a number of years back, enroute to Boston, and the fog was thick. I should have pulled off and waited for better conditions, but I had a hotel reservation for that night and appointments the next morning. So I followed the only visual aids I had – the stripes on the side of the road and the taillights of the car in front of me. If the car ahead had gone off a cliff, well …

My 2 Cents Worth - Breaking the Error Chain

By Randy Mains

“This is stupid!”

What wonderful words to break the error chain.  I’ve certainly said it when I’ve been flying.  Like in bad weather when scud running, or doing anything in the air where I figured I probably shouldn’t be there.  “This is stupid,” can potentially be one of those simple, but brilliant, ideas designed to let you, the pilot, know it’s time to call it quits, go home, and thus prevent really scaring yourself and possibly having an accident.

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