I used to give rides over Badlands National Park in South Dakota. One time I was taking the usual ride on the usual day. It was a mother and her 12 year old daughter, daughter on the outside of a Bell 47G5A. The ride was the same one I'd done a million times but on this particular ride the passenger side door popped open. Not a big deal, it certainly didn't seem to scare the girl too much, but I thought I'd go ahead and reach across to pull the door to and latch it (it can be a bit tricky).

Anyway, I was reaching across the mother in the middle and the daughter on the outside, left hand flying and holding the collective with my knee. We hit a small bit of turbulence and my knee slid off. Wham. The collective immediately went to it's top stop. We instantaneously initiated what had to be a 5000FPM climb. I could feel the skin on my face pulled down. I immediately reached over and shoved the collective back down. By that time the RPM had bled down who knows how much and when I shoved the collective back down we went from the 5000FPM climb to a negative G flight attitude. Big time. I would have flown over the cyclic if I hadn't have had my seat belt tight. I cannot explain why the tail boom wasn't chopped off. I have never in the past, nor do I ever want to in the future, feel the extreme changes in attitude that I felt that flight. I don't even, as a rule, push my airplanes that negative. It really didn't even scare me until later when I really had the opportunity to think about it. Hey, what can I say. Sometimes you just get lucky. I can say I'm darn glad I was in a Bell 47. I flew that helicopter for many more hours. And I can tell you that stuff never happened again.

Stephen Austin
Austin Ag Aviation
Charleston, Missouri

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