Thursday, June 16, 2011

Helicopters? Who Knew?

Do you ever have those moments at work when you feel like you just aren't getting it? Like maybe you were way more into rockets growing up than helicopters? Oh, that's just me?

Anyway, I often feel behind my colleagues at work. I'm not retired military, or serving military, I have never piloted an aircraft, I don't think of the aerodynamic fundamentals using rotorcraft and I am still trying to understand precisely what gyroscopic precession is. I can't name the helicopter just by hearing it's specific "whop, whops", I would never have guessed the Chinook is the Army's fastest helicopter, and I don't have any of those spiffy "back in 'Nam" stories. But I do like to be challenged and that is what my job does: it challenges me beyond my comfort zone to learn about and delve into a world that I never knew could be so fun.

And sometimes you learn that you know more than you thought, and that your job is awesome even after all the paperwork.

This week I was selected to attend a Blackhawk (UH-60) familiarization course. Since I have limited knowledge of the Blackhawk, I thought this was a great opportunity to learn more. As it turns out there were only 2 of us engineers in the class, with the rest being from the program office or "contract specialists" (I really have no idea what these people actually do, except that it sounds super, super boring). And in a room full of "others" I learned that I have picked up on more stuff about these fancy shmancy helicopters than I thought. I knew how an engine works and how the shaft turns the blades, I knew about most of the avionics, radios, and flight controls, I knew about the blades, the tail rotor and the torque, and I knew about the transition section, the stabilator, and the APU. But I learned how proud I was to say I was a "Flight Test Engineer", to talk to the new little interns and encourage them to push their comfort zones, to stand by the HH-60M and know that my job, however small it is, makes a difference. Not only outwardly, in the lives of the soldiers and pilots, but a way that culminates my educational efforts thus far.

I think its important to push your comfort zone, and have moments float in as reminders that you made the absolute right choice.