Whether you are a passenger or a pilot of a helicopter, these ten helicopter safety tips will come in handy. Helicopters are important because they can fly into spaces where airplanes can't reach. Helicopters land at hospitals, on personal property, at the top of buildings and in various locations for the military. Following general safety procedures keeps you out of harms way.
- Pay attention to the pilot's briefing. Before you fly, it's important to know what is expected of you. The pilot will tell you when to enter and exit the helicopter along with when you need to wear your seatbelt after boarding. He will let you know if you need to stay in your seat or if you can move around.
- Watch the rotors. Approach from the front if you see that they are about to turn or are already turning as this keeps you in the pilot's direct line of site. Stand low in a crouch as you approach a helicopter on level ground for this allows for extra space between you and the rotors. If you are able, walk up a hill towards the helicopter from the front. Approaching the helicopter this way gives the pilot a clear vantage point. He or she can see where you are. Wait for the pilot's signal before moving toward the air craft.
- Keep track of light and loose items. Securing your personal belongings is important as those with no weight can quickly blow away as you near the helicopter. Let the item go if it is already flying out of your hands. You could get hurt if you try to chase it.
- Understand the helicopter's safety zones. The front at the right or the left of the helicopter is the most acceptable place to approach it. Walking up directly in front of the helicopter is ok, but, the pilot will always prefer that you arrive from the front left and right angle. The back of the helicopter is the most dangerous place to stand or walk. The pilot can't see you from behind him and this is a prohibited vantage point.
- Exit with safety in mind. There may come a time when you have to leave the helicopter while it is still hovering just above the ground. Wait for the pilot's signal and then exit the helicopter slowly and without making any sudden movements.
- Stay with your helicopter unless it is in a secure area. If you leave your helicopter in a visible location, onlookers may mess with it and accidently damage parts of the flying machine.
- Inspect the copter before flying. Verifying that everything on your aircraft is in working order is a good idea because you will avoid potential problems while flying. Check around the helicopter noting if the switches are working properly and that you have enough fuel.
- Take note of any strange vibration sounds. These noise changes are an indication of possible abrupt engine failure. Find a safe place to land if you hear anything strange with the vibration levels of the helicopter. Inspect every aspect of the helicopter after you have landed before resuming your flight plan.
- Avoid making takeoffs or landings downwind. You could loose control of your helicopter. Taking off or landing downwind is an especially dangerous maneuver at high altitudes, as the result may wind up with you crashing into objects on the ground.
- Keep rotor RPM's above their critical low readings. You can avoid seriously damaging other passengers or yourself if you keep the rotors moving, even during a crash landing, according to the Robinson Helicopter Company.
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