A platform had shut-in and I was tasked with flying a maintenance team to the platform to once again start the flow of oil from the platform. The wind conditions were on the edge of a go or no-go for the helicopter. If I was not careful the helicopter could be blown off the landing pad on the platform with a high gust of wind. I started the aircraft very cautiously to insure that the tail-boom of the helicopter would not be impacted by a main rotor blade. Moving the cyclic fore and aft flying the blades to prevent contact with the tail-boom until they had gained enough momentum to maintain a single plane. After the start sequence was finished and the throttle was at 100 percent the maintenance team loaded their equipment and themselves into the helicopter.
As we were flying out to the stricken platform, the headwinds were so severe that my airspeed indicator was reading 120 knots per hour, but the GPS was only indicating a ground speed of 75 knots per hour. According to the disparity between my indicated airspeed and my ground speed I was now flying outside of what would be considered the safe flying parameters of the aircraft. I was committed now. I had to continue.
I briefed the maintenance team that when we landed I would have to keep the helicopter at 100 percent throttle in order to maintain the helicopter on the landing deck. I told them that they were to remain clear of the skids while they exited the aircraft so, if indeed the aircraft was blown off the deck they would not be caught by the skid and dragged off the platform with the helicopter. The maintenance team acknowledged the risk and confirmed their compliance. I landed on the stricken platform and the maintenance team was able to exit the helicopter without incident.
While the maintenance team was feverously working to restore the flow of oil from the platform. I was literally flying the aircraft on the deck to maintain my position. As I was working to maintain the aircraft on the platform, I saw a seagull, that seemed to suddenly appear, hovering over my rotor system. With the strong winds the seagull was unable to fly forward. The seagull had no place to go. If he tried to land he would be blown off the platform. If he tried to turn around he would be smashed into either the platform or the sea. Now he found himself in the very precarious position of hovering over my rotor system. As I watched the seagull, I could see his head follow the blades as they whirled around and around, Then, without warning the seagull folded his wings killing himself with the spinning rotors of the helicopter.
The seagull recognizing his plight, felt that he only had one option. He chose instant death over injury or drowning in the vast sea.
I hope you liked this short, but true story.
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