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Man In Trouble For Using Helicopter to Water Ski

samzenpus posted about 3 years ago | from the extreme-father-and-son-time dept.

Australia 59

An Australian man spending the afternoon water-skiing with his son can't figure out what all the fuss is about. After all, he wasn't piloting the helicopter towing his son recklessly. "It's a witch-hunt," Milton Jones says. "He was home from boarding school. I only see him for a few weeks each year and we were just having a bit of fun. It was perfectly safe. I've been flying for 20 years and am very experienced. All the yahoo has gone out of me by now." Unfortunately the Civil Aviation Authority doesn't think helicopter skiing is a wholesome father-son activity and has threatened legal action.

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first (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35655652)

nobody else cares

Stupid Aussie Nannies (2)

FutureDomain (1073116) | about 3 years ago | (#35655738)

If it was his helicopter on his land, then I don't see what the problem is. The dang government is filled with too many control freaks who want to dictate what everyone else can do. This guy should just tell them to go eat a lemon.

En Garde! I nitpick you! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35655816)

By the very nature of the activities, he wasn't on his own land. His own water maybe...

Re:En Garde! I nitpick you! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35656080)

... but who owns the sky?

Re:En Garde! I nitpick you! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35656694)

They can take my love, and my land, but I don't care - Mal.

Re:En Garde! I nitpick you! (1)

definate (876684) | about 3 years ago | (#35659670)

Welcome to the Commonwealth, where nobody can own water, or the area closely around water. That's crown land. Though I'm sure there's certain provisions to sort out some of the problems with this, these days.

Also, that was his own land, since he owns 700 square kilometres in the Northern Territory. However, I think you're alluding to he's flying and so not on land, and I'm unsure of the regulation in that regard, but it's likely similarly retarded.

Re:Stupid Aussie Nannies (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35656570)

If there was a UFO above my land, I'd want to know what it was, that's why the control freaks have to watch the skies and any intervention costs money.

Re:Stupid Aussie Nannies (3, Informative)

FatLittleMonkey (1341387) | about 3 years ago | (#35656970)

The dang government is filled with too many control freaks who want to dictate what everyone else can do.

The Civil Aviation Authority received multiple complaints from viewers. They have a statutory requirement to "adequately investigate" complaints. So they asked the Ten network for the entire unedited footage (after all, the broadcast footage was likely edited to make it look more "daring" than it really was, so it wouldn't be fair to the pilot to go off of that), the network refused, the CAA got a search warrant. The father then applied for a court order to seal the footage, and then went whining to the local press like a spoilt little brat.

Note that the CAA hadn't said the pilot did anything wrong. They are just following up on complaints. Everything else has come from the TV network and the father playing legal games. Likely this will end up costing the tax payer a fortune in legal fees. But it didn't have to. In all likelihood it could have gone: CAA asks for footage, network emails video file, CAA investigator spends half an hour going over footage, double checks regulations, licences, etc, and says, "No case to answer". Done. Whole thing could have been over with in an afternoon. But now, the Authority will almost certainly have to follow the absolute strictest letter of the law, just to send a message to other pilots/operators/owners, don't play with us.

Re:Stupid Aussie Nannies (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35660520)

What's your point?

Re:Stupid Aussie Nannies (2)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | about 3 years ago | (#35662458)

In all likelihood it could have gone ... "was anybody hurt here? No? OK, there's nothing to worry about. Next."

But now, the Authority will almost certainly have to follow the absolute strictest letter of the law, just to send a message to other pilots/operators/owners, don't play with us.

Great, they're butthurt so they'll reign down with all their terror. And you think the father is the spoiled brat?

Re:Stupid Aussie Nannies (2)

FatLittleMonkey (1341387) | about 3 years ago | (#35669030)

Great, they're butthurt so they'll reign down with all their terror. And you think the father is the spoiled brat?

I didn't mean they'd do it out of spite. I mean they can't allow a precedent to be set that when they are investigating a complaint, a wealthy owner can say, "Nope", and they have to stop. If you throw lawyers at them, that kills any flexibility they might have had.

A lot of operators are cowboys, and they hate the CAA. But more light aircraft accidents in Australia have come down to company/owner error than pilot error. But if the CAA investigate complaints, they're bastards, if they don't, they're bastards.

(Someone else pointed out they were renamed CASA in the '90s, after an agency reshuffle I think. But both TFS and TFA use CAA, so I've kept using that.)

Re:Stupid Aussie Nannies (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35664532)

They have a statutory requirement to "adequately investigate" complaints.

In Theory Only [slashdot.org]

Re:Stupid Aussie Nannies (1)

rgviza (1303161) | about 3 years ago | (#35665292)

Pfft, there goes my idea of towing my son water skiing from the surplus F-4G I just got on ebay. I just put a $3500 towing attachment on it too :-/

Re:Stupid Aussie Nannies (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35663314)

Unfortunately telling them "to go eat a lemon" will not stop the uniformed public service branch of the mafia from sticking you in jail for the perceived crime.

Re:Stupid Aussie Nannies (1)

Tacticus.v1 (1102137) | about 3 years ago | (#35663458)

Fair chance it wasn't his land.
Farmers and wastes of spaces like this guy (yeah i know a few i grew up around them) lease the land as part of a pastoral lease.

Re:Stupid Aussie Nannies (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35681384)

Fairer chance it wasn't his land because it was water.

What Could Possibly Go Wrong? (1)

LifesABeach (234436) | about 3 years ago | (#35655888)

I didn't know the land down under had a law for being stupid, those blades, and a sudden gust of wind, then the water skier looks like deli sliced meat, only alive, a little...

Re:What Could Possibly Go Wrong? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35656082)

" those blades, and a sudden gust of wind, then the water skier looks like deli sliced meat, only alive, a little..."

Do tell us what pilot licenses and ratings you have, won't you ? I suspect the answer is : none.

An old flight instructor I knew used to "barefoot water ski" with one foot out the open
door of his J-3. He did it a lot, but he used his knowledge and judgement to decide when
it was safe to do ( there were no people on or in the water when he did it ). Stunts can be safely
done by those who are trained and experienced, as much as that might shake your tiny little
world view.

Re:What Could Possibly Go Wrong? (1)

hax4bux (209237) | about 3 years ago | (#35658982)

Damn right. Where did airplanes go before there were airports?

I hear this sort of nonsense all the time, even from licensed pilots.

Flying was a lot more fun for me when it included the occasional back road landing and taxi to a burger stand. Now it drags out all the upright citizens to rally around anything just a little off the beaten path. Not about safety issues, all about control.

Re:What Could Possibly Go Wrong? (1)

Kuruk (631552) | about 3 years ago | (#35664086)

Australian Government will not be happy until we are all drones that conform to narrow limiting laws for our safety.

And the sad thing is we let them do it. Give it another decade or two and we will think we where so free in 2011.

Re:What Could Possibly Go Wrong? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35657538)

As opposed to the much safer spinning "blades" that propel a boat forwards--and the number of times they have "sliced and diced" is too many to count. I suppose every boat driver is just as "reckless" as this pilot...

Broken Link? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35656096)

Also no Google Cache

Experience (1)

SJHillman (1966756) | about 3 years ago | (#35656216)

The man is an experienced pilot and according to TFA, is endorsed for low-level flying. It sounds like he knew what he was doing. When I was younger, my father or brother used to pull me around on a plastic sled tied to the tow-bar of a snowmobile by rope. I lost more than a couple teeth to my brother braking too fast. Seems to me helicopter waterskiing has a better safety record than what I used to do, but nobody is going after that.

Re:Experience (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35656526)

The issue is at what point is someone qualified enough to pilot a helicopter for the purpose of water skiing. There are really only three clear lines here:

1) Anyone with a helicopter license is allowed

2) Nobody is allowed.

3) Everyone is allowed.

And I think most people would be hesitant just letting anyone with a helicopter license to tow a water-skier behind them.

Re:Experience (1)

element-o.p. (939033) | about 3 years ago | (#35656720)

And I think most people would be hesitant just letting anyone with a helicopter license to tow a water-skier behind them.

Why?

So long as I am not putting anyone else at risk, what does it matter? If the helicopter is at low altitude in the middle of a busy lake, that's one thing, but if no one else is nearby, why should anyone but the pilot, the helicopter owner (if not the pilot) and the person water skiing have any say in the matter?

Re:Experience (1)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | about 3 years ago | (#35656936)

...but if no one else is nearby, why should anyone but the pilot, the helicopter owner (if not the pilot) and the person water skiing have any say in the matter?

The gov'ts the one that comes in and puts out the fire when the helicopter crashes.

Re:Experience (1)

davester666 (731373) | about 3 years ago | (#35657496)

What fire? He's over a lake. He goes down, any fire automatically goes out...

Re:Experience (1)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | about 3 years ago | (#35657638)

What fire? He's over a lake. He goes down, any fire automatically goes out...

Ever notice that neat little spinny bit on top of a helicopter? Think about it.

Re:Experience (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35657802)

I did. There's not a problem. The helicopter goes down into the water, sinks and everyone dies. Tragic but that's the price you pay to live in a free country. You advocate nannyism and suck. Stop trying to control people you freak. Just live and let live.

Re:Experience (1)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | about 3 years ago | (#35657880)

I did.

No, you didn't. Little flaming bits can go flying all over the place. It's not like a car crash where it just crashes and that's it.

You advocate nannyism and suck.

I haven't advocated anything.

Just live and let live.

Think a bit more about that 'let live' bit.

Re:Experience (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35658574)

"Think a bit more about that 'let live' bit."

There is a difference between simply existing and really living.

And I think you don't have the first fucking clue what that difference might be.

People like you, who would remove all risk from the world, are the drones of humanity.
Get the fuck out of the way, drone, and let the warriors do what they will.

What I am trying to say is that you need to shut your punkass mouth and mind your own
miserable pussywhipped business. There now, is that clear enough for you, you pussy ?

Re:Experience (1)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | about 3 years ago | (#35658672)

People like you, who would remove all risk from the world

Yup, you don't understand me or my point.

What I am trying to say is that you need to shut your punkass mouth and mind your own
miserable pussywhipped business. There now, is that clear enough for you, you pussy ?

You haven't been unclear at all on this topic, you just don't understand it.

Re:Experience (1)

Dogtanian (588974) | about 3 years ago | (#35659386)

People like you, who would remove all risk from the world, are the drones of humanity. Get the fuck out of the way, drone, and let the warriors do what they will. What I am trying to say is that you need to shut your punkass mouth and mind your own miserable pussywhipped business. There now, is that clear enough for you, you pussy ?

Your ideas intrigue me and I would like to subscribe to your newsletter. [flickr.com]

Re:Experience (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35659558)

And if the complaint is that someone other than the pilot and skiier was in danger, that's fine. But, if no one else WAS in danger, then no... it shouldn't be illegal. The government should not be in the business of protecting people from themselves, only from others.

Re:Experience (1)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | about 3 years ago | (#35660006)

And if the complaint is that someone other than the pilot and skiier was in danger, that's fine.

We don't disagree, but I wasn't really taking any sides on the philosophy, here. The point I *was* making is that the if there's an accident, the gov'ts automatically involved. Rescue services will come out, they'll have to remove the wreckage, they'll have to make sure the area's safe from fire and toxins, etc.

There is no 'if no one was in danger' because it still affects other people.

Re:Experience (1)

Methuseus (468642) | about 3 years ago | (#35665912)

I don't know about in Australia, but in Wisconsin, if my grandpa's tractor "crashed" into his pond or a structure, he would have had to remove it and the authorities would laugh at him if he called. If he was hurt, then, yes, he could have called an ambulance in which case they may have had to extricate him. From what I understand, if he had a crop dusting plane and crashed it into his field, as long as he didn't need immediate help he would have to do all cleanup. If he had an emergency, he would have been billed for the charges, of course.

Re:Experience (1)

Crazy Taco (1083423) | about 3 years ago | (#35685590)

The point I *was* making is that the if there's an accident, the gov'ts automatically involved. Rescue services will come out, they'll have to remove the wreckage, they'll have to make sure the area's safe from fire and toxins, etc.

That's such a cop out. Why does the government have to be involved? If someone is risking their life climbing a mountain, why is it the government's job to come rescue them? Or, if the government is going to rescue them, then why not charge the people who caused the government to have to come out? I just don't see why people expect rescue services to be some free thing provided by the government. They shouldn't be, at least not in the case where the government is bailing out people who took unusual risks (mountain climbing, waterskiing behind a helicopter, the balloon boy hoax in Colorado, etc). In cases where the rescue isn't something likely to be needed by the average citizen (such as a heart attack or getting locked in a room), it should be payed by the party who caused it.

Re:Experience (1)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | about 3 years ago | (#35685990)

Why does the government have to be involved?

For the reasons I mentioned already.

Or, if the government is going to rescue them, then why not charge the people who caused the government to have to come out?

Don't know. Nobody is complaining about it, though. This is probably because it's about community and not about who's rich and who's poor.

I just don't see why people expect rescue services to be some free thing provided by the government.

They're not free. That's what taxes are for.

In cases where the rescue isn't something likely to be needed by the average citizen (such as a heart attack or getting locked in a room), it should be payed by the party who caused it.

It doesn't matter. If the helicopter crashes in a lake, it's not isolated like in your mountain climbing example. They also don't assess the fee for this service and then do it. Is that fair or not fair? That's not what this topic is about, nor is this the case to change how that works. Like I said the last time you responded to me, the big fucking difference here is he's flying a vehicle that can cover a lot of space in a very little time.

Re:Experience (1)

Crazy Taco (1083423) | about 3 years ago | (#35685556)

The gov'ts the one that comes in and puts out the fire when the helicopter crashes.

So what does that have to do with anything? A) they don't have to come if they don't want to (ie make a law that says no putting out fires related to helicopter waterskiing), B), as long as his property is the only thing likely to be affected, which it was in this case, then that's his risk to take and C) he pays money for the fire protection service anyway. Granted, being a taxpayer who pays for fire protection doesn't mean you can go around recklessly playing with matches and gasoline, but this isn't something like that. He's flying a helicopter over a lake, which is certainly not a likely fire risk even to his property, let alone anyone elses. So saying the government should get to tell him what to do because just because they are the ones who employ firemen is retarded.

Re:Experience (1)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | about 3 years ago | (#35685592)

A. Won't happen.
B. It's on a lake, stuff goes down stream.
C. The fee is was not established with helicopters in mind.

I don't know when gov'ts never act retarded. Doesn't matter anyway, though he's flying a vehicle that can cover lots of ground. That's an important point no matter how much you piss away important details.

Re:Experience (1)

TheABomb (180342) | about 3 years ago | (#35658406)

Most people are hesitant about jumping out of planes, or climbing mountains, or flying halfway around the world to get shot at, but there's still plenty of folks who do all of those regularly.

And the difference is... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35656414)

Isn't this just the opposite of para-sailing? You don't hear about the Civil Aviation Authority going after them do ya?

Licensed operation (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35656498)

You don't have the *right* to fly a helicopter. You have a privilege to do so, which is represented by your pilot's license. That privilege is subject to conditions, to which you must agree to obtain your license. And if you don't obey those conditions, your privilege can be revoked. Period.

The State licenses helicopter and airplane operations because it would be madness to simply let anyone do whatever they damned well pleased with a machine which is extremely dangerous.

You libertarian freaks had better move to Somalia, where the stateless, lawless paradise you seek awaits you. In the real world, there are rules, and most of those rules exist for a very good reason.

Grow the F up.

Re:Licensed operation (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35657730)

Actually you do have every right to fly a helicopter, provided you can do so responsibly. The state is reaching by demanding proof ahead of time, rather than simply prosecuting unsafe activities. But let's assume that's justifiable. The fact remains that anyone has a right to undertake any activity, with their own property, which they are capably of doing responsibly. It's not a privilege. And neither is driving, or opening a business, or building a home.

Re:Licensed operation (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35658604)

Just like I have the right to shoot you with a shotgun, which I am perfectly capable of doing in a responsible manner.

Re:Licensed operation (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35658890)

I suppose they own the river as well?

Re:Licensed operation (1)

mcornelius (1007881) | about 3 years ago | (#35657904)

You libertarian freaks had better move to Somalia, where the stateless, lawless paradise you seek awaits you. In the real world, there are rules, and most of those rules exist for a very good reason.

Grow the F up.

(1) No one on here has given a libertarian response to this (as if there even were only one).

(2) Somalia is stateless but not lawless. Grow the F up and recognize the difference.

(3) Few libertarians see Xeer [wikipedia.org] as ideal, either.

Whats reckless? (1)

vlm (69642) | about 3 years ago | (#35656636)

What exactly is he doing that is reckless?

1) The story is being pimped as the reckless part is doing something fun with a helicopter.

2) At least locally, the FAA has a different definition of reckless. Such as he could have been buzzing the powerlines near his hotel, maybe he terrified the ATC controller by not explaining what he was doing, etc. I can't find the actual citation just journalist babble.

3) Another option is he "recklessly" supported a powerful political opponent, or the noise of his fooling around offended someone important. Reckless in not kissing the correct butts. Even a guy who owns a helicopter has to do that.

4) Apparently the guy is a TV actor publicity hound, so someone with political power might be doing this as a marketing favor to him. Pay a $500 fee for $5M worth of publicity, etc.

Re:Whats reckless? (1)

Em Adespoton (792954) | about 3 years ago | (#35658934)

The funny thing is, the CAA hasn't accused him of reckless activity. What they HAVE done is say "What exactly did he do that is reckless? May we please have the unedited footage so we can see if there was any reckless activity?" to which the network and the guy both responded NO!

Now the CAA has to go through more difficult routes in their investigation to answer the complaints of "reckless activity" from others with either a "yes, he did something reckless," or "investigation closed. Nothing done outside the regulations." Meanwhile, this guy is making a big publicity stunt out of the whole thing.

Re:Whats reckless? (1)

Methuseus (468642) | about 3 years ago | (#35665956)

Well, if they would just accuse him, he would have to provide it then. And he probably would. I agree that it's reaching to ask for him to self incriminate. I realize this is in Australia, not the US, but I believe they have some semblance to protect from self-incrimination.

The lad (1)

rhyder128k (1051042) | about 3 years ago | (#35656656)

I bet his pals didn't believe him when he got back from his holiday.

"What did you do then?"

"I visited my dad. He pulled me behind a helicopter while I water skied. What about you?"

"Same."

Re:The lad (2)

FatLittleMonkey (1341387) | about 3 years ago | (#35657046)

I bet his pals didn't believe him when he got back from his holiday.

He lives in the Northern Territory. His friends would rag on him if he hadn't done something stupid and dangerous.

Well.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35656878)

I would like to be the first to welcome our new helicopter flying skier dragging overlords...

Not the first time (1)

aoeuid (250239) | about 3 years ago | (#35658028)

It's not the first time something like this has ever been done. A politician in Mexico has been doing it for the past year with a state owned helicopter:

Admite edil ganar Guinness con helicóptero estatal [terra.com.mx]

And the state government justified it with the excuse that "this type of aircraft needs to be in continuous operation".

I'm not seeing a problem here (1)

Locke2005 (849178) | about 3 years ago | (#35658706)

The only penalty this father should receive is that his insurance rates should go up... a lot. Unless the government can prove that somebody was harmed by his actions, they should STFU.

Re:I'm not seeing a problem here (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35669938)

While I'm not familiar with the Aussie law, I'd tend to agree with that. If only they could see the footage in order to check!

Useless Bastards (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35662908)

Useless fucking cunts, I spent years trying to get the attention of CASA about dangerous practices in international flight schools, corruption within the hiring practices of airlines and repeated breaches of public safety due to poor and illegal training and they go after shit like this. Fuck you, there is so much more you could be doing with your time for greater benefit and you chase crap like this. Mark my words, Australian aviation is going to get more and more dangerous due to CASA's inept policy enforcement for serious structural problems.
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