Greetings from The Aero Experience Team


The Aero Experience is a celebration of Midwest aviation and aerospace achievement. We invite you to join us as we explore the treasures of Midwest aviation through first-hand experiences. Our contributors take turns flying lead, and we are always looking for new destinations. Check in with The Aero Experience frequently to see where we will land today, and then go out and have your own aero experiences!

Blue skies,

Carmelo Turdo, Mark Nankivil and Fred Harl - The Aero Experience Team

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Air Evac Life Team 8 Celebrates Twentieth Anniversary

By Fred Harl
Air Evac Life Team 8 recently celebrated their 20th Anniversary with a gathering of family and friends at their Farmington, MO Regional Airport base. Team 8 provides emergency medical airlift services within a 30-minute flight zone that covers the area from south St. Louis County nearly to Poplar Bluff. The crews fly the highly modified Bell Helicopter Long Ranger II, one of the most efficient, reliable and well-supported rotorcraft ever produced. The Aero Experience thanks Air Evac Life Team for being there when we need them.



Monday, November 19, 2018

St. Louis Metro Air Support Unit Serves Three Law Enforcement Agencies

By Carmelo Turdo

The St. Louis Regional Helicopter Safety Seminar featured several helicopters on static display, including an MD-500E from the St. Louis Metro Air Support Unit. The Metro Air Support unit is a model for medium-sized metropolitan areas using aircraft to assist ground units in apprehending suspects, performing search and rescue and transporting critical personnel and items in the shortest possible time across three jurisdictions: City of St. Louis, St. Louis County and St. Charles County.

The St. Louis County aviation support services were initiated in 1971 using three Bell 47 helicopters. Air operations continued, making their current home at Spirit of St. Louis Airport in 1981.  In the mid 1980s, budget cuts reduced the air support unit to two pilots flying the MD-500 (Model 369) as the standard aircraft type. Federal block grants following the September 11, 2001 terror attacks helped in the purchase of additional MD-500 aircraft and systems upgrades including night vision, FLIR and 30 million candlepower search light. Today, the unit trains its own pilots, flies 3,000+ hours per year and has several aircraft flying pro-active patrols within the 1500 square mile area.  Each pilot and observer flies at least four hours per day/night shift and are fully qualified law enforcement officers from one of the three sponsoring agencies on a mixed crew basis.

Here are some views of the aircraft on display during Saturday's safety seminar:

Sunday, November 18, 2018

St. Louis Regional Helicopter Safety Seminar Continues 25 Year Training Tradition

By Carmelo Turdo
The 25th Anniversary St. Louis Regional Helicopter Safety Seminar was held Saturday at Helicopters, Inc., Spirit of St. Louis Airport. Rotary wing pilots, crew specialists and maintainers from around the area gathered for a day of safety presentations, product and service exhibits and helicopter static displays. The program was produced through the FAA's FAAST Team with corporate sponsors providing guest speakers, valuable door prizes and product demonstrations.   

Helicopters, Inc. Spirit of St. Louis Location
Exceptional door prizes 

Clyde Ehrhardt, Ehrhardt Aviation Agency 

Paul Ross of EuroTec Vertical Flight Solutions

Bill Hopper of HeliSat Helicopter Services and Technologies

Suzanne Steiner of HeliTrak 

 Three helicopters were available on static display, and the crews remained on site throughout the day to visit with attendees. Pictured here are the Guimbal Cabri G2 from North American Helicopter based at St. Louis Downtown Airport; MD Helicopters MD-500E from the St. Louis Metro Air Support Unit based at Spirit of St. Louis Airport; and Bell Helicopter 206L-3 Long Ranger from Air Evac Life Team based in Troy, MO.



Flying Blind: You May Have 20/20 Vision...But What Do You Really See?
Bruce Webb, Director of Aviation Education, Airbus Helicopters

An eye-opening look at how we process what we see, or don't see, especially while concentrating our vision in high stress situations. We can miss seeing something otherwise obvious when we are single-minded, distracted or otherwise complacent. Practicing observation skills, and touching every item on the pre-flight checklist, can increase safety margins significantly.

Startle Response Avoidance
Phil Dixon, FAAST Team Program Manager, Operations, Memphis FSDO

Real-life scenarios provide ample opportunities to learn from others how to avoid, and handle, unexpected situations. From the minor distractions to the major emergencies, flight crews must have a reserve of skills to stabilize and resolve the situation. Constant formal and informal training, along with a methodical approach (read checklist), will contribute to successful outcomes.


USHST - The Top 3 Ways We Get Dead In Helicopters
Stan Rose, Helicopter Safety Alliance

A recent survey of helicopter incidents and accidents from the FAA database revealed that 47 of 50 involved small operators. Implementing a structured training environment, including a safety management system, aircraft health and usage monitoring system, and/or flight data management system can help reduce accident rates by a factor of 10.

Advanced Preflight
Bill Hopper, Training Program Manager, Helicopters, Inc. and Owner of HeliSat

Careful, intentional pre-flight inspections are essential to flight safety. A staple of any aviation safety program is Bill Hopper's version of the Human Factors "Dirty Dozen," compiled by Gordon Dupont during his service at Transport Canada before becoming CEO of System Safety Services.  As listed by Dupont (see previous link for details), they are: 1. Lack of Communication; 2. Complacency; 3. Lack of Knowledge; 4. Distraction; 5. Lack of Teamwork; 6. Fatigue; 7. Lack of Resources; 8. Pressure; 9. Lack of Assertiveness; 10. Stress; 11. Lack of Awareness; 12. Norms.  Sprinkled liberally with real-world examples, Bill Hopper's interactive session effectively heightens awareness of the weakness of the human condition and how to avoid the potentially disastrous consequences of human failure. 

Hazards of Self-Medication
Dr. Pierre Moeser, Medical Consultant for MO Pilots Association, U.S. Pilots Association

A survey of over-the-counter medications quickly reveals that many have side effects that can diminish a pilot's (or driver's) performance. Reading the front of the package may identify the symptoms addressed by the medication, but the back panel holds the key to whether it should be taken by a pilot planning to fly in the near future. One must check the warning label for ingredients that cause drowsiness, dizziness or adversely affect the ability to operate machinery. A pilot should wait a period of five-times the dose interval before flying after taking over-the-counter medication.

Big 10 Helicopter Accidents
Fred Harms, FAAST Team Lead Representative, St. Louis FSDO (Ret.)

We take a look at some causes of helicopter accidents from the human factors stand point, including some so unnecessary as to be innately self-fulfilling prophesies of doom. Terms such as "plan continuation bias" and "get home itis" describe the propensity to continue flying into worsening conditions in the hope of avoiding a diversion from the intended destination. The results are sometimes disastrous. In aviation, a more apt warning would be, "Just because you can (or think you can), doesn't mean you should."

The Dangerous Drones
Phil Dixon, FAAST Team Program Manager, Operations, Memphis FSDO

Drones, those not-so tiny RC rotary-winged camera ships, are crowding the skies in greater numbers. Despite the efforts of the FAA to license drone "pilots" operating the larger commercial-grade craft, they do pose a flight danger to manned aircraft. The key lies in training operators to follow the regulations and avoid proximity to manned aircraft operations. 


The Aero Experience thanks the FAA FAAST Team and all who contributed to making this program a great success.