When I was a kid dreaming about flying, I assumed it was complete freedom. I read all the books Antoine de Saint-Exupéry wrote. I watched every movie with a plane or helicopter in it. Then, and I remember this very well, came my first lesson about FAA regulations. I realized a few things have changed since Saint-Exupéry took to the skies and most movies were, well, movie-magic. And speaking of magic: Another shock I remember from back when was my first lesson in helicopter aerodynamics. As it turned out, you can’t even do half the things in a real helicopter you can in the movies. You ‘might’ be able to get around a few regulations, but there is no way getting around all the aerodynamic laws that are hampering operations of a ‘real’ helicopter.
Initially I was bummed about how many restrictions we have in commercial flying and about not being able to do what they did in “Top Gun”, or “Air America”. But after a long process of “growing up” in this business (which, by the way, is far from being completed), I am realizing that all these rules are written in blood. Pretty much every regulation in aviation comes from someone having a really bad day.
Still, I have to laugh when after weeks of getting permits from the feds, the city, the tower, the fire department, the police, and so forth we finally get to land the helicopter on a street in the middle of a city for an air condition lift-job and this one guy (there is always one guy) walks up to me admiring the helicopter and says “Man! Helicopters, huh?! You can just land them anywhere!”
In theory, yes …