Piloting an aircraft requires certain skills. It also requires certain amounts of discipline, situational and self-awareness. Piloting a helicopter requires even more of each of them, mostly because a rotary wing aircraft is flying in an unstable manner, as opposed to the stable flight characteristics of most civil airplanes.
Some time after having served as a bush pilot and mechanic in the tropical rain forests of Borneo as well as in the high mountain regions of Papua – Irian Jaya for a few years, I was asked to present a lecture to a symposium of the Christian Pilots Association CPV in Germany, to broach the issue of advantages and limitations of helicopter operations in mission aviation.
Right after having passed the runway at merely 100 ft AGL, I heard ATC barking all over my headset: “Mike Romeo, are you crazy!! You weren’t cleared for takeoff!!” I was baffled, and my confidence was gone in one second.
I had to make a decision within seconds, so I turned base. To my right I still saw him continuing before I focused on the airstrip. After a well-sectored pattern and a smooth touchdown, I suddenly heard the voice of my instructor over the radio: “35, retract your speed brakes!”