The Dive Team gathers for a briefing on helicopter operations at Lake Piru.
Pilot Jim Dalton, Crew Chief Ron Stufflebeam and Senior Deputy Frank Underlin lead the training session.
Tim Coates, Andy Martinez and John Jackson hold up the Billy Pugh used to recover divers and transport them over short distances to shore. Using this device is less time consuming than a mechanical hoist. The team also trains using the hoist when it is available.
Ron is pictured here giving a briefing on helicopter safety. Rules covered in this briefing are listed below.
Approaching or leaving helicopter:
1. Always look for a crew chief's or pilot's signal BEFORE approaching the helicopter.
2. Always approach or leave to the FRONT of the helicopter so that you are continually within the pilots's or crew cheif's view. (About a 45 degree angle off the front.)
3. Approach or leave in a CROUCHED position.
4. DO NOT RUN when approaching or leaving the helicopter.
5. Do not carry objects above head level, thus avoiding possibility of being struck by the rotor blades.
6. NEVER walk past the rear bulkhead.
7. Never approach or leave the helicopter from any side where the ground is higher than the ground on which the helicopter is standing or hovering. Don't walk down slope to a helicopter or up slope away from a helicopter.
8. Parked vehicles - vehicles and other conveyances shall be kept at a distance from the helicopter equivalent to that prescribed for persons, or greater, if the pilot or crew chief so directs.
9. Smoking - there shall be no smoking within 100 feet of the helicopter during landing or take-off operations.
10. Do not stand under a hovering helicopter.
11. All persons shall stay at least 50 feet away from the helicopter rotors when rotor blades are in motion unless otherwise authorized by pilot or crew chief.
12. Rotors lower as RPM decreases.
13. Stay away from tail rotor at ALL times.
After the briefing, team members line up for a dry run.
It is helpful to get the feel for what to hang on to and where to step when entering and egressing the helo while it is still on the ground. This exercise prepares divers to execute the skills smoothly when the helo is airborne and hovering over the water.
Divers are allowed time to familiarize themselves with the aircraft.
Andy Martinez gives a "thumbs-up," signaling that he is ready to go.
Teammates John Jackson and James Dobar discuss their plan before boarding.
The area is cleared for take-off.
A crew chief inside the helo signals divers to egress the craft. It is important for both the divers to go at the same time so the helicopter doesn't experience a dramatic weight shift. On this jump, the divers timing was off.
To view a movie file of a diver entering the water from the helicopter, click here.
Diver's view of the Billy Pugh as is comes into position for a pick-up.
Jim Traverson enjoys a ride back to land after a successful jump.
Up to four divers can be quickly and easily transported using this method.
The guys exit the net easily once brought back to land.
To watch divers being transported back to shore in the Billy Pugh in a Quick-Time movie file click here (3897 KB).
For fun helicopter game, click link (caution, highly addictive.)