Safety Check: Ignoring Safety Puts You on Santa’s Naughty List
Santa fly-ins have become increasingly popular these days. Enstrom just flew Santa to a children’s breakfast in Menominee and our friends at Sweet Helicopters down in Fort Wayne chartered Santa from Indy Metro Airport to the Indiana State Museum. If you’re ever assigned to flying Santa Claus, be sure to double check your helicopter’s weight and balance calculations, especially if he’s carrying a bag of goodies along with him.
Something else to keep in mind: you’re more likely to encounter snowy adverse weather at this time of year, even if you steer far away from the North Pole. I would recommend you refresh your memory on a pilot’s proper corrective actions for white out conditions.
Or, better yet, don’t fly at all when something doesn’t feel right. I know you might feel like a Grinch for cancelling Santa’s trip, but I beg you, don’t succumb to self-induced pressure to take flight when you know there’s potential for deteriorating weather conditions. Persevering through the winter fog should be Rudolph’s responsibility, not yours as a helicopter pilot.
You might also be dealing with event organizers who aren’t familiar with where a helicopter can or can’t land. Never agree to touch down in an unsuitable landing zone. Whenever I have the honor of flying Santa, I don’t play reindeer games. I always make it a practice to discuss a “Plan B” with the organizers well in advance.
Here’s hoping you and your family have a safe and joyous holiday season!
Randy is a dual rated Airline Transport Pilot with 13,000 flight hours in airplanes and helicopters. He has type ratings in the BE400 and CE500. Randy has been a rotorcraft Designated Pilot Examiner representing the Grand Rapids FSDO since 2014. Currently he works for Sweet Helicopters, a northern Indiana Part 135 air carrier operator and serves as the Airport Manager of the Goshen Municipal Airport.
About Enstrom HelicopterFrom Rudy Enstrom’s early designs in 1943 to initial testing in a Michigan Quarry in 1957 to aircraft operating on six continents, Enstrom Helicopter Corporation has maintained a reputation for safety, value and performance. Based in Menominee, Michigan and proudly made in the United States, Enstrom has a rich history for design innovation. The goal is to provide helicopters to the customer’s exact specification and deliver support and maintenance worldwide.