The Best Seat on a Helicopter Is, No Seat

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Many people will tell you the place to ride in a helicopter is in the front seat with the doors on.

They would be mistaken.

For years I was by trade, a journeyman lineman. Not the kind that protects the quarterback but the kind that works on power lines. Many companies have decided that linemen are fearless, so they have devised many plans around two concepts.

1. Power lines have to get repaired no matter what.

2. Linemen will do anything if the money is right!  

One plan they have is using helicopters in any way possible. Since linemen are “fearless” they will have us ride anywhere that makes the work go faster. I have ridden inside in the front seat, inside in the back seat, inside with no seat, doors on, door off and outside standing on the skid.

But there was nothing like long-lining.

Long-lining is the practice of picking up men from the ground, on the end of a rope and flying them to their desired location. We, as the workers, were called HEC or human external cargo. When doing this we were also called dope-on-a-rope.  We were flung into trees, beaten together when there were two of us at a time, and drug through a thousand drops of rain, each one stinging you as if it were a swarm of bees.

We also got the very best ride that a helicopter has to offer!

While your long-lining you see and feel things that can’t be felt any other way.  If you learn how to spread your arms and legs out you can control your movement and actually fly! You can see the towns, mountains, rivers and valleys from the most unique perspective.  But one thing I’ll never forget is looking down at a rainbow.

The most fantastic view of a rainbow is straight over the top. 

You can’t see it this way unless you’re suspended directly over it, but when the conditions are just perfect, and you’re in the right spot, a rainbow is a full circle! A never ending loop of the most fantastic colors right underneath you, and even though you flew through the bee stings of rain drops and landed in trees, had clothing and items ripped from you as you flew the second you see a full rainbow it all becomes worth it!

Many times I’ve been on that ride in life, the one that seems too difficult to finish, or the one that hurts, or the one that makes no sense.

But looking back I have always gotten an excellent perspective by following through on the ride!

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