It's Hardcore On The Heli-Deck!
The movie image of people having to duck their heads when approaching a helicopter is something of a myth these days (unless the helicopter is a very old one). Most modern helicopters main rotors will still 'droop' in a high wind, but not dangerously so (unless you are a giant/6.5"+).
The Heli-Deck Crew
They are there every time a helicopter lands, and they are there every time it takes-off. They do not hesitate and rarely screw-up in ensuring the safety of helicopter and passengers. Is this why they rarely smile or wave? They scurry about and move to and fro they never remain still for too long. Who are these strange, brooding types? They are the Heli-Deck Crew (HDC) of an Offshore Platform!
Hand-picked and recruited solely from among the deck crew and drill crew of an offshore platform they are among the roughest, toughest oil workers offshore. Stern, able and quick to respond to given situations they make short thrift of anything or anyone that stands in the way. Prerequisites are believed to include an in-depth knowledge of Union street, a loud voice capable of out-roaring a rotor blade and a brooding ambience.
Overseen by the watchful and grizzled face of the Helicopter Landing Officer (HLO) the entire HDC make a formidable team. With bulky flame-retardant jackets and overalls they certainly look the part but are the real deal? Read on and we'll find out.
Usually though it's aimed directly at the pilot to test his steel-like nerves and trust in the heli-deck crew. The pilot may retaliate may pull off some fancy flying moves around the platform instead, passing close and whirling about before landing. Thus begins the duel.
On landing, the HLO alone approaches the helicopter first. Approaching the pilot a bold look of rivalry may pass between them. One is master of the air, the other is only master of the helideck. However, each is upon the others territory and each will take the measure of the other. A minute is always long enough for this though, after which they both will put aside their differences and the HLO collects the manifests and newspapers (they are passed to heli-admin) then the bags are unloaded, laid out on the deck for the passengers to pick up. After the HDC have walked around the helicopter and are satisfied that all is well the doors are opened and out come the passengers. Not much is said in greeting, in fact usually nothing at all is said. The door being slid open signals that it is ok to disembark. If something has to be said its usually 'Get your arse out of that door!' to the more reluctant passengers. The grim-faced looks and apprehensive expressions from the HDC may unsettle rookie oil workers. But it's a necessary way, for from now on the harsh ways of the platform take priority and the serious nature of the HDC is ever present.
The passengers file out out and pass in a broad circle around to the front and away from the whirling rotor blades. They disappear into the labyrinth of the Offshore Platform. The departing oil workers are now brought up to the heli-deck and the HDC now have to conduct the escorting process in reverse. This is a tense moment, for the departing workers may feel the urge to begin non-jumping robot-dance routines to celebrate the helicopters arrival, much to the chagrin of the HLO. Ever wary of this the HDC stay close, ready to bundle on board any wayward workers who give in to temptation and prevent the euphoria before it spreads. Once inside the HDC check that they are all securely harnessed in, giving the pilots some food and drink, stow the bags, spare life jackets and refueling (where necessary). To the worrisome they may give a word of wisdom, to the arrogant a harsh look and to any fetching ladies a roguish grin!
They are not alone outside the helicopter, the worldly wise pilots often climb out of their seats to check on the helicopter themselves.
The HLO and his merry men can now breath easy for another Heli-deck mission is complete, until the next helicopter arrives that is...