What do the pilots do without their ground crew?

The ground crew walks off the field (photo: Matthias Gottschalk)
Obviously, not flying with our instruments.
After bringing out ACTOS and SMART-HELIOS and start all instruments, everyone walks back to the tent. Everyone? No, three persons remain on the field: our ground crew. By name, there are always Astrid and Dieter and the changing third person out of our PI-pool: Holger, Birgit, Silvia and André.
On our in situ side, we have Astrid. She handles the ropes on the ground, attaches them to the helicopter and helps SMART-HELIOS during starting and landing. It always looks dramatic. Especially, when she tries to pull the helicopter down during the safety release tests.
On the remote sensing side is Dieter. He is in direct contact with the pilots and guides them on the right position to lift and land SMART-HELIOS and ACTOS: The 3rd pair of eyes of the helicopter on the ground.
And in between is the third person. Without a helmet, assisting Dieter with a different angle of view and Astrid by carrying the landing platform of SMART-HELIOS to its final place. Sometime, the downwash of the helicopter moves SMART-HELIOS, hence the third person also lies on it for protection.
After every successful start, our ground crew walks back to the tent, silently knowing that without their job, there would be no science.

Dieter advices the helicopter
(photo: Matthias Gottschalk)
Astrid get ready to pull the helicopter
(photo: Matthias Gottschalk)

SMART-HELIOS ready to fly
(photo: Matthias Gottschalk)
The third person's extra task: Hands on
(photo: Matthias Gottschalk)
Good bye ACTOS
(photo: Matthias Gottschalk)


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Short bye to Pico - My visit at Graciosa and the Helicopter-flight on Monday, 17th of July

White clouds, dirty skies