TSO’s Beard, live from Arizona

| April 11, 2013

I’m totally fine with heights.  Heights just don’t bother me.

What scares the shit out of me is physics.  Just terrifies me.  Here’s what kicked it in yesterday….I was in the door seat of the Blackhawk, with the door open.  All good.  Then it got up higher, and I started to freeze to death.   Even in southern Arizona I could see snow.  So, now I am cold, and sitting 3 inches from the open door.  So, I decide to make sure the seat harness is holding my fat ass tight enough.  So I cinch it down until I am like quasimodo hunched over, but I can’t possibly move.  All good.  Then I look at the harness itself.  “Manufacture date: October 1, 2006.”  Now, is that good?  Is it old?  Is a harness strap like dog years or what?  Fear not!  There is a further thing printed there: “Retirement Date:                      ”

Dude, no retirement date?

OK, so here is me sitting there

So I’m contemplating what happens if the harness breaks.  (Quick aside, what is with Helo’s not having the strap like they have in MAXPRO’s and such that hangs down?  Dude, I need something to hold onto.)  So, I start thinking physics.  I know I will accelerate for the first 200 meters or so at 9.8 m/s squared.  I’m at like 400m above the ground.  I could just fall and keep saying “I am a leaf on the wind, I am a leaf on the wind, I am a le…<splat>”  Or, I could try to angle it so I land in the luxurious elegance that is my beard, and probably walk away.  For some reason I decided instead I would use my last breaths to curse my enemies list as I go down….”David Tyree, Lance Bass, Aaron effing Boone, Mathew Currier Burden, whatever Fox exec cancelled Firefly…..”


OK, so the real question here is this:  On a spectrum from 1 to Liberace, how big a pansy am I for freezing and worrying about the harness breaking?

(Programming update incidentally…PJs are the shit, and great to hang out with.  Looks like I am headed out with them on some stuff here the next few days, and the iPhone is dying so fast it’s shocking.  So, I may be in Comm silence for a bit.  But in all, Exercise Angel Thunder is pretty fricken awesome so far.)


Oh, and Marine Recon guys are less than comforting.  This is the advice I got from one:

It’s not the hitting the ground that kills u. It’s the bounce. The first hit breaks every bone in your body the bounce causes them to shift. When u land again they impale every organ in ur quickly cooling body. So we say grab grass. When u fall and hit the ground grab grass so u stay their You will be in a body cast but survivable. Anyway good luck and grab grass.


Thanks dude.  Remind me not to let you tuck me in at night.

Category: Politics

Comments (38)

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  1. Old Tanker says:

    Liberace minus 1….

  2. Twist says:

    Don’t worry, the beard would break your fall.

  3. rb325th says:

    Lawn Darts…. just remember to point your toes.

  4. MCPO NYC USN (Ret.) says:


    TSO falls from helicoper at 10,000 feet.

    Beard survives. Film at 11:00.

  5. TSO – Liberace? As far as I know TSO doesn’t play the piano.

  6. Detn8r says:

    It is an unproven fact that if you are able to hang on at first impact you can live! It aparently is the subsequent bounce and second landing that kills, anyway have fun! We’ll keep John busy here in WV!

  7. NHSparky says:

    “I’m a leaf on the wind, watch how I soar…(splat)”

    Yeah, that’d be about right.

    So here’s the question of the day–TSO’s beard gets in a cage match with Don Shipley’s hair. Chuck Norris is the referee. Who wins?

  8. PintoNag says:

    Aim for the haystack, TSO! Some guy actually survived a fall out of an airplane a few years ago by landing in a haystack.

  9. Veritas Omnia Vincit says:

    On a scale of 1 to Liberace you might be a Tiny Tim….(smile)

    Tweaking you just a little bro, no offense intended…

    I was gonna do a little bungee jumping. Got up on the tower, read the harness (capacity 250 lbs) I am between 240-250 most of the time…didn’t seem wise to depend on a 2% safety margin to avoid bouncing my already ugly mug off the canyon floor…I told them to call me when they get a nice 500lb line….

  10. SgtBob says:

    1967, somewhere between Long Binh and Blackhorse base camp, pilot decided to take the UH-1D from just above trees to 2,000 feet. Talk about cold! Fall, land, bounce … You get one shot at it.

  11. Mrs TSO says:

    Be careful not to lose your shoes, there aren’t many that have the TSO seal of approval.

  12. ChipNASA says:

    Just remember like Bugs Bunny….just JUMP UP as hard as you can RIGHT before you hit the ground. TAH DAH!!!
    Oh …wait…..

  13. ChipNASA says:

    You should always be prepared if you’re going to go up in some form of aircraft.
    You should have Don Shipley’s hair strapped to your back and use it as a PARACHUTE.

  14. Ex-PH2 says:

    Just thinkn of yourself as a very large cat.

    If you twist in the air, you should land on your feet.

    Hey, cats do it all the time and they survive just fine.

  15. Veritas Omnia Vincit says:

    @15 not from over a thousand feet darlin….

  16. Ex-PH2 says:

    Cats have a nonfatal terminal velocity of 60MPH. It sounds like a contradiction in terms, but most small animals have this advantage. Once they orient themselves, they spread out like a parachute or a flying squirrel. One cat survived a fall from a height of 46 feet, suffering chest injuries and a slightly bloody nose.

    However, I don’t recommend testing the flying squirrel hypothesis on TSO.

  17. SGT E says:

    Feet and knees together and PLF – too easy!

  18. Sgt Awesome says:

    Firefly reference? +10 awesome points.
    Being cold in AZ, regardless of circumstances? -20 awesome points

    You’ve got some work to do buddy!

  19. PavePusher says:

    Don’t worry so much about falling out… worry about the auto-rotation when the engines quit. Or the death-spin when the tail-rotor drive shaft breaks. Or the main rotor head fails….

    So many interesting ways to die from helicopters….

    Hope you have a cheerful day!! ;>)

    Pave – the ex-chopper mech.

  20. PavePusher says:

    Oh, and the PJ’s always have a spare IV and an oxygen bottle for hang-over recovery…. I love those guys.

  21. Mr Wolf says:

    1. Be glad they didn’t put you in the monkey harness (look it up) Hangin’ on the skids at treetop getting the best video ever shot while trailing a Cobra. Yeah, I gots proof too…

    2. Fell asleep in the same spot on a Huey one night. Co-pilot had noticed, and had the pilot dip the collective. Suffice to say I woke up IMMEDIATELY with my stomach in my nose. Bird dipped only like 6 inches but it FELT like 60 feet… gawd that’s a horrible way to wake up


  22. Ex-PH2 says:

    Have you trained that beard as a door gunner yet?

  23. Virtual Insanity says:

    #20 Pave/TSO–

    You stand a much higher likelihood of dying because the guys up front do something crazy/dumb than a maintenance failure.

    Trust me on this.

  24. Old Trooper says:

    “OK, so the real question here is this: On a spectrum from 1 to Liberace, how big a pansy am I for freezing and worrying about the harness breaking?”

    I would say you’re just shy of rhinestones and glitter.

  25. RunPatRun says:

    I’m guessing they won’t let you fly down in the Grand Canyon. When I was coming down on PCS orders I called Branch. Wichita KS was what they said, then BOOM, orders to Phoenix. I didn’t even realize there were trees amongst the cacti, thought it’d be like Hell Paso. Really enjoyed the state, thanks for posting the pics and videos.

  26. defensor fortissimo says:

    Is it just me or did anyone else hear the line “grab for the grass” and think of The Other Guys when they said “We’ll aim for the bushes”?

  27. Mike says:

    I miss ole phoenix

  28. WOTN says:

    TSO: your mancard is hereby revoked.

    And, what the ‘ell you thinking wearing those shoes on a bird? BE PREPARED. That ain’t it.

    I’m gonna tell you, had you jumped out of a Blackhawk, just once, you’d know it is a helluva lot harder to fall out of one than you’d think. You want to worry about something? Worry about accidently pulling your reserve and it getting sucked up into the blades, taking the whole thing down with all the other jumpers. You’ll never cover up a metal ring like you do then. You know how hard it is to push your frame over the edge with one hand?

    BTW: a dynamic PLF can save you from death at any height, so long as you ensure you land in a plowed field.

    But the threads are known to dry rot on those blackhawk straps after 3 years, and they’re only rated for 230lbs when new. The good news is that seats are designed to collapse on impact should the bird fall out of the sky.

    And oh yeah, never get in a bird with a guy with a record of crashing more times than he landed. He’ll jinx the whole flight, but you’ll get some hellacious war story out of it.

  29. Fatcircles0311 says:

    I was in a helo company while in. I don’t like heights so I. Definitely joined the right branch because the ch46 and 53’s didn’t have open side.

  30. Susan says:

    TSO, you should be asking these questions before you get in a helicopeter. Once you get in, worrying about this is pointless.

  31. Tom Huxton says:

    Seats…. harnesses….????? (I don’t understand)

    My fondest memories of late childhood involve sitting on the floor of the Huey with my feet on the skid. Temp goes from 110 on the ground to about 60 at flight level and things are right in the world.

  32. H1 says:

    Grab a Zagg Sparq.
    3 sizes.
    Can recharge a mobile device up to 4 times (6k model).
    I keep one in my field fag bag.
    They have built in AC plug so no external cable required.
    Can be used to charge device also.
    Not cheap but real nice when out of juice.
    Just keep charged. High charge/discharge rate = less than stellar shelf life.

  33. Ex-PH2 says:

    Are we going to see pictures when this is all over?

  34. NHSparky says:

    I also have a charger…good on all mini-USB charged devices, and can either charge from another USB-supplied source or AC power with the included cord.

    Mine ran me about $80 and works wonders.

  35. Instinct says:

    Not quite Liberace level, more near Justin Beber.

  36. Robert says:

    As a guy with more hours in the 60 than is good for the body, there ain’t nothin better than being on a gunners belt sitting in the door with your feet in the wind watching the world go by. It was a rare cross country flight when I got to relax like that. You are now missing a whole buttload of cool points.

  37. PavePusher says:

    @ 24: Oh, I know this well. Just pulling legs…. 8>)