Life Inside the Dead Man’s Curve – The Chronicles of a Public-Safety Helicopter Pilot by Kevin McDonald
Excerpt from the Book – #2:
. . . Leaning my face toward the tiny window in the hangar door, my hands and elbows resting against the cold metal surface, I could feel it shuddering from the wind and rain on the other side. As Jim and Chris patiently waited behind me, I closed my eyes and quietly gathered my thoughts for what must have been a full minute. It wasn’t just my life on the line. There were two more people, standing right behind me, who were depending on me to make the right call. Spanky Handley, who was my boss, had turned down two rescues at Shoal Creek just an hour earlier, and I had already cancelled one for weather myself. Jim and Chris probably figured I would cancel this one as well.
Still leaning against the hangar door, eyes still closed, I lowered my head. I reached with my right hand and nervously rubbed my hair back and forth. Then I pulled down hard on the back of my head until my chin was resting firmly against the top of my chest. I thought about the other people who were depending on me to make the right call—the three people in the water. They were seven minutes away from us, straight up FM 685, barely more than a takeoff and a landing from the hangar.
It felt as if I was trying to process a million thoughts at once, but it all came down to this: Do I launch into the teeth of the storm and place my crew in harm’s way, or do I play it safe and cancel? One thing was absolutely certain. Nobody was ever going to question me if I decided to take a pass in this weather—nobody except for me, that is. No matter which way I chose, there was a chance I would end up regretting my decision.