28 January 2012


On deck, and the view of the crew's feet starboard of the chopper
I wonder how many aviators come here. I know I get visits, albeit unevidenced by entries in the comments page, but I wonder how many copilots will identify with me when I say I loathe young aircraft captains who bitch scream at me in the cockpit.

Somehow the older ones seem calmer, knowing that you will auto-correct minor excesses such as angle of bank or airspeed. But these younger ones seem to have such a chip on their shoulders made of the extra two bars on their epaulettes.

What a demise of decorum on the part of captaincy it is, no matter what justification is used to prop up such outbursts.What a load of hot air, really. I may be greyed to my untrimmed chest, but I do have attitude still. And that is, that I don't give a crap about juvenile aircraft captains who bitch scream at me in the cockpit. I know how to present my most infuriating, obstinate and asinine side when confronted by what I consider inordinate authority. Just ask my wife.

Now that the priorities of the day have been dealt with, let me speak of what is a rarity.

Refueling of the EC225 on a rig.

Fill 'er up mate!!!
The task for the day was to fly offshore workers to two rigs whose total sequential distance required more fuel than a full tank's range could cover. We started off from the airport with near full fuel, and landed with about two thousand pounds remaining. The remainder of the distance to the following rig and the ride home would need in excess of three thousand pounds including bad weather reserves. Since the first rig we were going to land at had the refueling facility for a helicopter, en route, during the call to the rigs for the returning passenger statement, early warning was provided to the helicopter deck crew so that they could make the necessary preparations such as dragging out the correct number of fuel drums and allowing them to stand long enough to allow any sedimentation to settle before our ETA.

I am a newbie offshore pilot. So the novelty was a tad peturbing. Yeah, I had read the offshore refueling procedures in the operating manual and they seemed pretty much the way it was done in the air force. Yet this was an offshore thing and so presumption was not a good ally. I still would have to learn how it was done.

After landing and shutdown, the passengers were told to get below deck due to the refueling op. The fireman came forward to make the bonding contact so as to dispense static electricity which could arc and ignite the fuel fumes, soon followed by the fuel hose and the water contamination test. I had always wondered why the water contamination capsules were shaped like doughnuts, and now as I watched them, I understood. The centre void was designed to fit onto a syringe, and drawing back the plunger would force the paraffin fuel through the ring of the capsule. Any water in the fuel would turn the capsule blue. The chap perfoming the test perfunctorily showed me the capsule, still sitting on the forward face of the syringe, a pale polar mint yellow. Clean. So on with the refueling.

Shrekkk!!!!!!! I'm looking down!!!! AAaaaarrrgggghhhh!!!!!!!!!
  The wait was long. I was really feeling the need to fertlise the flora. I mean crop duster style. As I tread toward the platform edge where the staircase was, I baulked in aghast as I recognised that the staircase comprised perforated steel plates looking straight down to....the sea!!! A hundred feet down!!! So it was a vision of vertigo and horror for me. But I swallowed hard and held  tight to the handrails as I descended, knowing that I just had to use the facilities and comforts of the restroom.

Once the corridors placed the sea safely at my back, I felt better. And hunting down a restroom showed me that these offshore chaps...they are well housed. Each room, or to use the nautical term, cabin, had its own headroom. There was no common headroom, or so I was led to believe. And the headroom was rather, well, Nordic somehow. Or in the least, the one I used reminded me of the one in Stavanger's simulator centre.

Relief for the heavy laden
Back on deck, the refueling was progressing at a pace to suggest that the guys had to distill petroleum first to extract the paraffin. As I strolled on deck, I yakked with one of the offshore workers who was thrilled to impart his mundane everyday facts to a newbie like me who found them fascinating. Of course I had no idea that drilling went down two thousand feet. Only for him to surge me on by saying other rigs drilled to eight thousand feet!!!! Okay. I rarely even fly at that measure above sea level. And, said he, no refueling had been done on this rig in nine months. Hmmm.

After fifty minutes on deck, the process finally ended and the engines were wound up again for the next rig. It was getting late in the day. The extra early morning start was beginning to take its toll on me. It was meant to be a 0745H take off, but the aircraft went snagged, and another was reassigned at 1115H to us to accomplish  the job after the first wave of birds had returned from their flights.

Thank goodness it was my last day before four days of rest. It would allow that bitch scream I heard on base turn to finals to fade slowly away.


  1. maybe you could plant thumb tacks on the young captain's seat.

    wow. that does sound like quite a task.

  2. LOL!!!!!!

    Thanks, and though I hate to quote ol' Harry Callahan, you made my day.

    After all, he is such a huge ass that the tacks could never miss...

  3. Rat poison may be better than thumb tacks!. If you ever use rat poison, buy the life expired ones. They kill more slowly and is cheaper!

  4. Cool thought, Anon!!! But I have this sneaky feeling that only someone who has been bitch-screamed at can come think up this idea of poisoning the ratfink.

    Thanks for the suggestion and as far as I can guess, I may be able to get the past-due-date rat poison for free, thereby sweetening the poetry of revenge.