Big Ass Elk

“Jesus Christ, did you see that thing!” He calls out over the intercom. “Bill, bring us around, I want to get another look at that thing.”

His order sounded urgent, and I felt like whatever it was, I needed to get us turned around as quickly as I could, lest it get away. A proper turn in a helicopter is, lean the cyclic in the direction you want to turn. Once you have a fifteen degree turn established, and pull back on the cyclic a bit to compensate for the loss of lift. The pedals are just to maintain trim, they are not suppose to be used to aid the turn.

But this felt like a combat turn, and needed some special attention.

I started the turn, a textbook turn, but the radius was to wide, and the way the instructor was looking out behind us, trying to pick up the target, I felt I needed to steepen the turn and tighten the radius. I initiated the turn as a left hand turn, so he could quickly pick up the target.

I leaned the aircraft over a little further, then as the angle of my bank steepened, I pulled back a little harder on the cyclic to make the nose come around quicker. Just to ice the cake a little, I kicked the left peddle in a bit to push the tail to our left, again aiding the turn.

It was impressive how quickly that old bird came around onto a new heading.

I still had no idea what the fuss was all about, but hoped that we could reacquire the target once I leveled off the aircraft.

“There it is, you see that!” Our instructor said, pointing out the front windshield.

It was one big ass elk.

“Setup an orbit around the big fucker.” He instructed.

I leaned the aircraft right to put the elk off our left side, then as it approached the cargo door, I established a left hand orbit around the large animal standing knee deep in the swamps of Alabama.

“Boy he is a big boy.” Our instructor expressed once again.

I glanced down at him, but to me it was just another dumb animal. I kept the aircraft in a steady orbit around him, while my instructor lamented how he wished he had a rifle right at this moment. After about four revolutions and a lot of admiration, my instructor held up his right hand, palm flat to the deck to indicate he wanted me to level off and resume my original heading.

“Resume your heading Bill.” He added.

I leveled off, on our original course, and looked back at my stick buddy. He looked around quickly, got his bearings, and nodded in affirmation.

As I settled in to more straight an level flying, my instructor keyed the microphone.

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