First Flight


Did I leave the door open?

Did I leave the door open?

It was my first time in a helicopter. As I stared down at the ground five hundred feet below through an open door with my teeth chattering from the cold, damp wind, I began to question whether it was a good idea to take my first helicopter ride in an open-door Huey over the west valley on one of the only cold-and-rainy days in a southern California year.

But there I was.

Although I was questioning my judgement, I didn’t really have any regrets. The pilot was a classmate and collaborator that I’d worked with on numerous film projects at USC and the helicopter ride was a “thank you” gesture to me and the rest of the team contributing to the animated series that he had written with some friends. (It’s coming along nicely and we look forward to sharing it before the end of the year. It’s called “Thrift Video”. Stay tuned.) Before turning his hand to film he had been a Blackhawk pilot in the army, so I figured that I was in good hands.

The weather was cold and grey and spitting down a misty rain: not ideal for sight seeing from the side of a helicopter; open or closed, but it was hard to feel too bad considering how much we need the rain around here. The airport where we took off from was deep in the western valley and much of the view involved the patchwork of green squares of farm fields that reminded me of the midwest. I sat in one of the side seats that might once, in different circumstances, have been occupied by a gunner; so my view faced straight out the left (port?) side of the helicopter. Any time we banked sharply I would find myself staring mostly at the ground. Or the water (look! A sea lion!) when we flew out over the ocean for a view of the beach.

I worried how the Curmudgeonly Lion would take the flight, knowing that he is somewhat more sensitive to heights than I am, but he seemed to enjoy it once he got used to the sensation of helicopter flight. He took a “mere” four hundred photos. He also borrowed a GoPro camera from a work mate that I wore on my wrist: which may or may not have captured the spirit of the experience since it was hooked up to his phone and I couldn’t see any of the footage. That was fine by me: I wanted to just enjoy the experience instead of spending all my time trying to capture it. But that said, I’m glad he got photos since now I can look back on it from the warmth and steadiness of sea-level.

So all in all, a fun day.

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~ by Gwydhar Gebien on October 30, 2016.

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