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Friday Top Five: Holy Crap I'm Actually Going To Fly On A Helicopter Edition

Next week is fixin' to be a be a big week for Nerdy April. My name is on the flight schedule 2 times - my initial series of flights, 2 in one week, on the MH-47G Chinook. Oh, and one more thing to note: this will be my first experience flying on a helicopter ever.

I have been looking forward to this since day one, back in January, nearly 10 months ago.

And on a side note: I'm starting to think "10" is my lucky number. I am taking my first flight 10 months after my start date, in the 10th month of the year, in the year 2010. Kinda weird.

Annnyyyway...I thought it would be interesting to describe my Friday Top Five "Major Thoughts" regarding my first flights next week. And then next week, I will re-examine those thoughts based on what actually happened. Confused? Bear with me.

Number 5: Am I going to be sick? Honestly, I have never been motion sick, air sick, height sick, etc. But, I have also never been a passenger on a helicopter, especially not a Chinook (haha). I’m really not sure what to expect. I mean, I have imagined what it will be like and I have heard stories (good and bad) about the sensations, but I think it’s one of those things that you just won’t know how it feels until you are actually feeling it. We shall see.

Number 4: Will I be able to understand the radio transmissions? I know this is sorta weird and random, but sometimes I feel that I have a problem understanding “radio speak”. No, not the words like “niner”…hmmm….how do I explain this one? If you have ever been on an aircraft and tried to listen to the transmissions (or listened from the ground, or post-mission), you probably know what I’m talking about. Radios are not super clear, and I can imagine the problem gets worse on a 50,000 lb two-rotor system helicopter. Maybe it just takes practice.

Number 3: How will my Diabetes hold up? Basically this one is just a barrage of unknown questions. Will my blood sugar hold steady? Will I be able to detect when/if I go low? How will the adrenaline affect blood sugars? Is it easy to test blood sugars while onboard a Chinook? Which pockets of my flight suit will best hold all my D-crap? How will the pump handle constant, hours long vibration? Can I take care of myself without freaking Dave out? Etc….

Number 2: Will I be hot or cold? Admittedly, not that important. Everyone says I will be hot sitting under the transmission (possibly being leaked on by hydraulic fluid…although as I have been told, this is not bad since it means the aircraft still has hydraulic fluid…..GREAT!). But, I’m worried about being freezing…Delaware at altitude in October….hmmmm…

Number 1: Will it be everything I have imagined it to be? Will I have an increased sense of pride for this great country? Will it be exhilarating, exciting, scary as hell, all three at once? What will I remember most about my first flight as a flight test engineer?

I can’t wait to find out the answers to these questions, wish me luck next week!

PS: I hope Dave doesn’t read this until after we fly…I’m afraid he may try to ensure that the “scared as hell” feeling surfaces. Haha. But seriously….


  1. Hehe, I'm sure Dave will take it easy on you . . . NOT!!! Have fun and I can't wait to hear all about it. (I'm also hoping Dave doesn't ready my comment . . . )

  2. Good luck!!


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