Precision helicopter rescue

Originally published at:


Fascinating video. I wonder if part of what allows the helicopter pilot to get the propellers that close to the snow pack is knowing that if the propellers nicked the snow (which is presumably quite deep) it would be a lot more forgiving than hitting the ground?


Well, sure; it’s easy to fly so close to the terrain when your rotor’s turning that slow. What is that, like 60 RPM? /s


I thought the pilot’s skill was in keeping the helicopter airborne with no aerodynamic means of support.

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By rotating the blades slowly the pilot de-escalates the risk of decapitation, right?


If you want to see more amazing rescues, check out “The Horn” on Netflix. It’s a series about a Swiss helicopter rescue service that operates in the alps.

They are not turning slow, it is an artifact induced by the camera frame rate.

If the camera frame rate is a multiple of the helicopter rotation rate the blades wil appear still as is shown below:


That impressed the hell out’a me.


Ahem: /s


Ain’t we just the /silly /somebodie/s? ;^) lol

Actually the unobtainium in the tail rotor provides the lift.


That was hard to watch. Alpine first responders take so many risks with their lives; I hope this victim wasn’t taking unnecessary risks that caused his knee injury.

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I just got my NOLS WFA certification and I’m glad I did. I’m not a stranger to first aid, but the thought of needing assistance out in the wild makes my blood run to ice.

If ANYONE does back-country sports, I highly recommend getting this certification:

Anyone else think the pilot was reckless as fuck to risk his helicopter and the lives of his crew like this?

As yes, a classic move: using the pilot’s massive balls as an anchor to keep the helicoper rooted to the slope.



“You have to go out. You don’t have to come back.”

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Looking at the way he dug the skid into the snow, this pilot knows exactly the angle of the slope he can touch that against without the rotors colliding with it. He really really good!

I’m surprised that heli has enough lift to carry the pilot’s enormous brass balls

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Second the motion! In my much younger days I was fully qualified as a WFR, although I’ve let my certifications lapse a long time ago. Never did it with a course from NOLS - always it was something that a local hiking club (or the state) offered, but NOLS is a good organization.

If I hadn’t written a trip log that included a history lesson about a helicopter that had a rotor strike in snow, I might agree. But a rotor strike on snowpack is pretty much as bad as one on dirt or rock.

If you’re curious, the story starts about halfway down - look for the photo of the collapsed cinder block building with rusted steelwork on it, about halfway down the page. (Unless you want to read about the rest of the trip.) With that story, which started with a winter repair of a mountaintop microwave station, I always wondered how they posted for that job! Do you start with a microwave engineer and try to train him in mountaineering, or a climber and try to teach him to fix microwave gear, or post far and wide in hopes of finding someone who can already do both?

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This is too similar to how our air medical helicopter crashed in 1994, killing the pilot and flight nurse.