Gus was clear with us.
“You want to give the crew a ride on the skids? That’s no problem.”
So that afternoon, I sidled up to Lisa.
“You wanna fly?”
“You’ve been out before, right?”
We stood in the sand and I helped her step into the monkey harness, over the shoulders and tight around the hips. Then I clipped her end to end onto the floor of the heli and sat her on the edge.
“If you don’t like it, just let me know, yeah? We’ll swing you back in any time.”
She nodded, settled into place and the engines started to spin up.
(special award to those of you who spot her at 0:14 realising that I am in fact rolling video and not shooting a picture and she doesn’t have to hold the thumbs-up grin. Sorry Lisa. Also, apologies for the terrible camera work, I shoot stills)
I was shitting myself, sweating and swallowing, knowing that her safety on that edge was down to me not making a cunt of things.
There were no safety nets, if I got my job wrong at this point, I’d put my mate in horrible danger. And worse, a horrible danger that was an entirely unrequired risk. We’re not flying doors-open for any operational reason.
We’re doing so “just because”.
She loved the ride, as most folk do, giggling as we landed that “It’s the one seat in the helo that doesn’t make me sick.”
But what I loved was this.
Lisa knows me fine well. Better than most members of the team; we holidayed in Bali together for two and a half weeks a few years ago.
I had no opportunity to bluff or bravado my way through clipping her in, she knew I was learning by doing, knew this was one of the first times I’d done this to somebody else without another member of SAR looking over my shoulder.
And she trusted me, no questions or doubt.
The event is great, flying is fun and the skills I learn every year are valuable and applicable.
But the people I work with?
They keep me coming back.