About Helicopter Pilots:
"A bunch of critical parts flying in close formation."
"Anything that screws its way into the sky flies according to unnatural principals."
You never want to sneak up behind an old high-time helicopter pilot and clap your hands. He will instantly dive for cover and most likely whimper...then get up and smack the crap out of you.
There are no old helicopters laying around airports like you see old airplanes. There is a reason for this. Come to think of it, there are not many old high-time helicopter pilots hanging around airports either so the first issue is mute.
You can always tell a helicopter pilot in anything moving: a train, an airplane, a car or a boat. They never smile, they are always listening to the machine and they always hear something they think is not right. Helicopter pilots fly in a mode of intensity, actually more like "spring loaded" while waiting for pieces of their ship to fall off.
Flying a helicopter at any altitude over 500 feet is considered reckless and should be avoided. Flying a helicopter at any altitude or condition that precludes a landing in less than 20 seconds is considered outright foolhardy.
Remember in a helicopter you have about one second to lower the collective in an engine failure before the craft becomes unrecoverable. Once you've failed this maneuver the machine flies about as well as a 2 ton meat locker. Even a perfectly executed autorotation only gives you a glide ratio slightly better than that of a brick.
When your wings are leading, lagging, flapping, precessing and moving faster than your fuselage there's something unnatural going on. Is this the way men were meant to fly?
While hovering, if you start to sink a bit, you pull up on the collective while twisting the throttle, push with your left foot (more torque) and move the stick left (more translating tendency) to hold your spot. If you now need to stop rising, you do the opposite in that order. Sometimes in wind you do this many times each second. Great fun is letting a fighter pilot go for a ride and try this.
For Helicopters: You never want to feel a sinking feeling in your gut (low "g" pushover) while flying a two bladed under slung teetering rotor system. You are about to do a snap-roll to the right and crash. For that matter, any remotely aerobatic maneuver should be avoided in a Huey.
Don't push your luck. It will run out soon enough anyway. If everything is working fine on your helicopter consider yourself temporarily lucky. Something is about to break.
There are two types of helicopter pilots: Those that have crashed, and those that are going to.
Harry Reasoner once wrote the following about helicopter pilots: "The thing is, helicopters are different from planes. An airplane by its nature wants to fly, and if not interfered with too strongly by unusual events or by an incompetent pilot, it will fly. A helicopter does not want to fly. It is maintained in the air by a variety of forces and controls working in opposition to each other, and if there is any disturbance in this delicate balance the helicopter stops flying; immediately and disastrously. There is no such thing as a gliding helicopter. This is why being a helicopter pilot is so different from being an airplane pilot, and why in generality, airplane pilots are open, clear-eyed, buoyant extroverts and helicopter pilots are brooding introspective anticipators of trouble. They know if something bad has not happened it is about to."
Having said all this, I must admit that flying in a helicopter is one of the most satisfying and exhilarating experiences I have ever enjoyed: skimming over the tops of trees at 100 knots is something we should all be able to do at least once.
And remember the fighter pilot's prayer: "Lord I pray for the eyes of an eagle, the heart of a lion and the balls of a Army combat helicopter pilot."
Many years later I know that it was sometimes anything but fun, but now it IS something to brag about for those of us who survived the experience.
I think about the hereafter. I go somewhere to get something, then wonder what I'm here after ?