Another Doodle Bug Story
I decided since I spouted-off about the oil business on my last post, maybe it was time to revisit the topic again. I have written about my adventures in the "Oil Patch" here:
" HELLO LAMA " - 40 BELOW at STRAWBERRY RESERVOIR
and here: How I Became A " Flying Squirrel "
[Note the red objects in this picture ... they are gravel baskets]
I promised to write about "Next time ..What we didn't say at the safety lesson's" on my How I Became A " Flying Squirrel " post, so here goes.
As I explained in that post, helicopter's generate static electricity. One never knows from day to day just how much they will make, but if it's very dry or very wet there's a good chance you're going to get the shit shocked out of you. And by the way, the bigger the ship, the bigger the shock. The only way to control this is for the pilot to set the long-line on the ground, and the charge will discharge into the ground. Then, and only then, can you go over and pick-up the hook on the long-line, and hook it to whatever the pilot is after.
In the mornings one of the first things out of a good pilot's mouth would be this :
"Boy's the hook is hot today."
[This is a drill skid flying on a 150ft. Long-Line]
If we had a "Squirrel" [New Guy] with us, he would be introduced to this bit of physics in the following way .....
All our shot holes on the Heli-port-able crews had to be back filled with gravel. This was done to keep as much of the explosive's energy in the ground as possible. It also kept people from having their heads blown-off, but that was just a happy plus to the real reason. More "pop" that stayed in the ground ... better readings at the "Dog House". As a result of this, we flew gravel from our L.Z. [Landing Zone] everyday to every drill out on the line. It was some of the most expensive gravel in the history of gravel by the time it went down one of our 30 ft. shot-holes.
But back to the "Squirrel", he would generally be one of the last people to catch a ride up on to the line, which meant that he was at the L.Z. shoveling gravel into one of these baskets. As the mornings tasks were taken care of the pilot's would be very busy getting everyone into the field, fueled, and making the powder deliveries. Some time around 10 A.M. he would have to land at the L.Z. and take on fuel himself, at this point he could begin to start screwing around with taking gravel up to whomever was running low. This would be the first time the Squirrel would get to stand under the ship and hook him up to a piece of "equipment".
Even under a Lama with a 150 ft. long-line the rotor wash is picking-up small rocks and gravel and throwing them in your face, and the whole affair gets your blood moving no matter how many times you've done it. The powder monkey would tell the Squirrel to "Hook-up that Basket" as the turbine on the ship would start to whine for the move .... And the first thing that would happen, as the 35 lb. hook moved near the Squirrel, would be his hat flying across the L.Z. at 60 miles-an-hour. Then the dust filling his eyes, and as the hook dangled like a crazy yoyo, he would reach out for it, and BINGO it would shock the crap out of him. And he would let go, but the charge builds up instantly, so the next time he touched it, Bam shocked again.
At this point he would be looking at everyone in the L.Z. and the following was always on their face :
"What am I doing wrong?"
And everyone in the L.Z. would keep saying "Hook it up .... Hook it up". With much waving of hands, Like they had never heard of static electricity. But usually the pilot would set the hook down at this point, and the poor Squirrel could walk over and pick the hook up off the ground and get it hooked on to the basket.
Now, this all sounds cruel, and it probably is, but men do this to each other all the time, and it has a purpose. You want to see what the New Guy is made of, and you want him to always pay attention to what that hook is doing.
A few more things about the long-line being "Hot"..... If you reach out and grab it, and don't let go, the juice goes through your body and you just get shocked once. But if you're under a big ship, like a 214 [Huey] you can feel that charge coming down the line every rotation the rotor makes. Even if the pilot sets his hook on the ground, a 214 is gonna make your weenie wilt. And a 214 hook weighs 50 lbs. The prop wash off a 214 picks-up even bigger rocks and throws them in your face, and it blows dead limbs out of the trees, and you never know where those are coming from. I hated working under 214's.