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There's time to do it right.

As a new PQM (pilot qualified in model) at my first fleet squadron, I was excited for my first nontraining flight. No grade card today, just a nice tour of Guam for a VIP and a few of our maintainers. The weather was fine, with just the usual pop-up showers. We planned to do a slow lap around the island, circling over important features relating to the future Marine Corps buildup. I was in the right seat with the controls. Our HAC and squadron maintenance officer was narrating the tour and working external comms in the left.

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We toured the east and south coasts before heading to the naval magazine to view the infrastructure and landing zones (LZs).

Suddenly the call came, "Knightrider 06, base. Where are you?"

I rolled out to the north as the HAC answered; I had a good idea what would come next.

"06, base. We need you to buster home for a medevac."

All right, my first call. I immediately started to pull collective to get altitude and airspeed, but I was stopped by our crew chief, who called, "Hey, we still have the doors open back here."

"OK, I've got 85 knots. I'll hold that," I replied.

I concentrated on my airwork as the HAC started to coordinate with Agana International Tower, whose approach paths we would soon cross. I reached over to the operator control panel (OCP) to turn up the volume on base freguency, but inadvertently turned off the receive function on my side.

I was expected to hear the thud of the doors closing, but instead heard our second crewman say, "Hey, the passengers can't get the door closed. I'm going to have to get in a gunners belt and do it."

In the max-pax configuration, the only way for our crewmen to shut the door is to stand in the open doorway and reach back. It took some time to do this, because of the gunner's belt and need to unstrap.

The first time I really thought about what this action entailed was when our crewman said, "Ma'am, I need you to hold it nice and stable right now."

MAYBE IT WAS A GOOD THING that I had turned off base. I could now focus on maintaining a stable platform and avoiding traffic as we neared the approach paths for the international airport. I also had to watch for obstacles as we left the jungle and approached a populated area.

The door issue seemed to be taking forever, but I knew that hurrying the process or asking for updates would only hurt the situation. I didn't want to step on an important message from base or tower. What was probably a minute seemed like an eternity.

Finally, the call came, "Door's secured."

I smoothly pushed the cyclic and pulled collective to max blast to buster home. I was ready for action.

I noticed the HAC was talking, but I couldn't hear him. So I checked the OCP and realized I was not receiving base. As I was fixing that, I heard our crewman say, "Uh, are we going to be slowing down any time soon?"

Wait. What? What's going on? I gave the HAC a confused look and he said, "The other bird is going to take the medevac."

"Oh, OK. I'm slowing down and coming left to head back down the coast."

False alarm. We continued the tour and the flight ended uneventfully about a half hour later.

Maybe this is the least exciting Approach article you've read, but that's OK--you're not reading a mishap report about how our crewman fell out of the helicopter trying to close the door in a hurry. Despite all the excitement of getting the call, despite the immediate surge of adrenaline and get-there-now-itis, the guys in the back did it right. They immediately brought up a critical safety issue and worked through it the right way, with no shortcuts. Yes, it took us about a minute to close the door. But a minute at 85 knots is not that much time lost. Even when bustering, there's time to do it right.

LT. MONDLOCH FLIES WITH HSC-25.
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Title Annotation:BEST PRACTICE; doing aircraft safety issue the right way
Author:Mondloch, Monica
Publication:Approach
Geographic Code:1U0GU
Date:Jan 1, 2013
Words:695
Previous Article:Flight following, anyone?
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