76. I’m flying my I-OETE helicopter. I just left Milan and am heading to Florence.
Lupo is with me, of course, lying asleep on the rear seats.
Despite the poor weather conditions I have had to leave Milan because of some important meetings in Florence. According to the weather forecast I may run into a few storms, which I will try to fly around. The prospect of low clouds and fog worries me more because they reduce visibility!
I have already passed Milan… dark clouds cover the city… I pass around them, but now heavy rain is beating on the glass with a loss of visibility… must keep an eye on the instruments… I am over the River PO now… very low clouds… weather conditions are getting better… but remain variable… a flash of blue sky, but right now the wind is increasing.
I clasp my hands on the joystick. I see Piacenza on my right covered by low black clouds… in order not to lose contact with the ground I follow the highway… an accident below… I see a long line of stationary cars.
A spot of sunshine but the worst is yet to come… before reaching Florence, I have to cross the Apennines… I will try to flight through the gorges… I fear the low clouds, but if I fly higher I fear the strong winds… I decide moment by moment… the weather is just too variable… too crazy!
I begin to glimpse the Apennines. I’ll let you relive this trip with Lupo through the pictures I’m taking with the iPhone on my left hand… my right hand is engaged with the joystick. Lupo perceives my predicament and rests his head on my arm, I have no time to caress and soothe him!
Now I am starting to cross the Apennines… drenching rain… I leave Reggio Emilia on my left… rain and the wind are increasing… not afraid… in my opinion the helicopter is safer than a plane… worst case scenario?… I can touch down in some field and wait for the weather to improve! I have done this before when I found myself involved in a heavy hail storm!
As I gain altitude to get over the mountains so the weather improves… I see Lupo is quieter… he is so used to flying with me… he shares my joys and sorrows. I sing victory too soon… I see big clouds on the horizon. If I lose visibility I will go back and fly over the highway.
How wonderful! I’ve done this trip a thousand times in all weather conditions but it always moves me! On the highest peaks, there is still a bit of snow… the rain is increasing and visibility decreasing… I’m beginning to slow down… shit!.. I can hardly see a thing… I move to the left, leaving my course and I start looking for a passage through the mountains, I MUST HAVE VISIBILITY, otherwise I have to go back… I see the highway… It’s my reference point… no way… I go back and try again from Porretta… perhaps the clouds have thinned out there, otherwise I shall land in a field and wait for it to stop raining!
I see the silhouette of a mountain on my right and see the railroad below me… I know this passage… if I see the valley behind that crossing, it’s the end of my trouble!
Done… I see Pistoia… there, I did it! I should not accept these risky situations, even though I love the adventure, I have to think about the people who love me and still need me.
I see my factory, I circle overhead so they can hear the noise of the helicopter and know that I have arrived safely. They are anxious because I am an hour late and they haven’t heard from me.
All’s well that ends well!
Have you ever experienced the thrill of flying in a helicopter?
I’m also curious to know if there is a helicopter pilot among my readers…
Un bacino a tutti!
I LOVE YOU