The second group of riders was supposed to include our ED Chief Doc, but he couldn't make it. I had a brief glimmer of hope for a hop, but one of the other medics had never flown on a helo, and since I had been carried by Army choppers before, I graciously stood enviously aside. One of the passengers on his flight was the Sheriff, who had to get to the courthouse, and so their hop was cut short by a few minutes.
As we stood around chatting with the crew I said to the pilot half jokingly that if he wanted to finish the last few minutes of that flight, I'd be happy to accompany him up.
Well, it turns out that by cutting the flight short, they decided that there was enough time before the last group flew to take a few more people up! There just happened to be three willing riders standing right there next to the helo, so we got to go flying! It was myself, another medic, and the PR gal who had coordinated the whole event. I was really glad she got a seat, since she had helped all the bigwigs get their rides and she had never flown before in any aircraft. The other medic and I gave her the front seat. After all it was a first experience flying, and I'm a firm believer in making a first flight something as wonderful as possible.
So off we went for a quick tour of the area, and a demonstration of Mayo One's capabilities. Cruising over the local airport runway at 25 feet and 140 MPH for example. Then a demonstration of flying back down the runway forward, sideways both ways, and backwards for a little bit. I was seated in the port side rear seat, backwards facing, so flying backwards was pretty cool!
As we were returning to the landing pad at the hospital, the pilot asked if we had time to go and get more fuel for the last hop and the trip home. Not one of the three of us minded the extra air time, so we headed back to the airport and fueled up. After that, the pilot demonstrated the climb rate of the helo, going about 1500 feet in less than a minute. Then we headed back down to the hospital and landed.
It took the rest of the day to get the smiles from our faces. Our little group of worker ants got the longest ride, and for that I was well pleased. After all, the PR gal had set the whole thing up, and the other medics and I have loaded lots of people into the back of that helo in our jobs. So it was fun to be able to ride without anyone being sick or injured!
We three were in the right place at the right time, it is true. But had we not asked to go flying, it probably would not have happened. Important Lesson - write this down. It never hurts to ask!
I also realized that it has been far too long since I've flown. I need to find a way to get back into the sky. Hmm. Thoughts?