This past week I have been on holiday in Dubai with a friend who lives out here, and have been weirdly reminded of just how close to home the dangers of my hobby are. Although I’m obviously aware of accidents, and indeed know people who were friends with those who have perished in accidents – I am as guilty as the next guy of thinking “it’ll never happen to me.”
Well.. 3 unrelated things have happened this week to remind me just how close it can be…
So, I pick up a copy of one of the flying magazines at the airport, for something to read on the flight – in the section where they list new registrations I notice G-JERS is listed as “Cancelled – Destroyed.”
I spent quite a lot of time in G-JERS. It was the 4th aircraft I ever flew, and the first aircraft I flew solo. A quick look at my log book and it seems I spent around 16 hours in it.
It doesn’t exist anymore… it was rolled during a training sortee at Cumbernauld Airport. The AAIB report for it is here; and thankfully both student and instructor got out ok. But that could have been me. I hope that it doesn’t put the student off. But it is a shame to see something so instrumental in my flying come to such a sad end.
Which make it even spookier then that when I got the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix this week they had a helicopter simulator made from the cabin and end of a tail of an R22. I didn’t have a go in it, it looked pretty basic and designed to appease the crowds.
It did occur to me though to have a look at the indestructable metal plate which is attached to the passenger seat on R22’s to see where this hull had originally come from.
Once again, close to home strikes: it was a local machine, which was sold originally by Sloane Helicopters. The people I trained with. It has now ended up in the desert after a less than glamorous end, also involving training. AAIB report.
The really big thing… I got home from the Formula 1 qualifying on Saturday to see a tweet about two Britons being killed in a helicopter crash in Mallorca. My heart quite literally sank.
I did some of my training in Mallorca, and have been back to fly there since. The company I learnt with, Sloane Helicopters, have a base in Mallorca (which is very handy given the awful winter weather in the UK); so my fears were it was my friends, or a machine I knew, or both.
I was very relieved to find out a little while later it was not a Sloane’s machine. There aren’t many helicopters on the island; but it turned out this one was a private machine which was hangared with Sloane Helicopters, and other than being friendly with owner the involvement stopped there. It was an MD500.
… and for those of us still earth bound, but longing to be skyward bound: fly safely friends. Please.