So started this morning far too early, but it was fine. Had a quick breakfast and a coffee. Jumped in the car and made it to Staverton in plenty of time. We all sat in the front room, it was like waiting in a morgue. Anyway we all got upstairs after ‘Dick’ (Richard Mornington-Sandford) had got setup. We went round the table and introduced ourselves. I was the only non-ppl holder, everyone else was a qualified pilot. I mentioned that I took up helicopters after karting for ten years was beginning to take quite a physical toll. Richard then said that I’d gone up his list of people who will die ‘quite a lot’. I’ll rant on this in a bit.
Course, I must admit was absolutely fascinating, learnt a huge amount of stuff which will hopefully keep me alive. This chap is a bit of a male chauvinist, doesn’t like the French and not too keen on the Germans. At one point he asked who was married, I just didn’t go there….. Total respect for the guy though. He has survived an engine failure in an R22, twice. Has 20,000+ hours on all sorts of shit and is ex. airforce. There is one thing I think he was very wrong on though, and we did discuss this after the session today….
The assessment of risk….
He instantly thought that just because I raced karts, that I was a big risk taker. I don’t agree with this for a number of reasons. His point was that we ‘always drive on the edge’, that point is very much correct, but that doesn’t mean to say we haven’t assessed the element of risk. I raced a kart for ten years, never had a serious accident, okay then you can say, ‘oh well you’ve had accidents’. That in racing I’m afraid is unavoidable. Mainly because you cannot depend on ‘what the other guy does’. In that ten years, I had one accident that was caused by myself. That was probably close to 500 hours at race speeds. I maintained my own kart, I never ever had one mechanical failure or one engine failure, as far as I know I was the only team (There is an I in team) that achieved this. It was all to do with assessing risk. Does this part need replacing? Do I take that line through the corner? It’s all assessing risk. Does Lewis Hamilton have a death wish? Does he always put his life in danger? No, I don’t think he does. He does what great race drivers do, he assesses risk, he is not prepared to die for a race move. In a kart I built up the experience to be able to assess risk. In a helicopter I have no plans to do anything different. I certainly will never attempt to put a helicopter ‘on the limit’, because the risk factor is far too high. You have to operate within your limits, the important thing is to know where you’re limits are. At one point in the day he asked ‘How many people didn’t break the speed limit on the way up here?’. I was the only one who raised my hand. I left plenty of time, I was in no hurry. I could have belted up the M5 at 160MPH+, I didn’t. I plodded up the M5 at 60MPH, saved fuel and listened to the news.
We had this discussion. I did describe that fact that I’m so paranoid about dynamic roll-over that James has told me I’ll never get one, because it’s always at the forefront of my mind. I also described by ‘two part’ take-off technique which is the same one he recommended. I was very attentive and asked questions. He told me after are little chat, ‘I think you’ll be just fine’. Statistically, just by going on this course I’ve reduced my risk considerably for myself and my lucky passengers. I put my name down for the course, no one told me to, Captain James doesn’t even know I’m doing it.
So, yes, I know all about ‘risk’. I look forward to the second part of the course tomorrow.