A helicopter forced me off the unicycle.

Ok, the title may be is a little sensational…

I was riding on my Nimbus 36 along some very smooth pavement, just cruising along. When I suddenly felt vertigo, like the earth was pulsating up and down sorta like an elevator starting and stopping. I am not incline to feeling dizzy or such, but it crossed my mind, maybe I’m about to pass out. It’s a funny feeling to have while your sitting above a wheel moving like that.

This went on for a short distance and I decided to UPD sooner than later. The feeling went away and I noticed that a helicopter had passing overhead, a large one, flying high above, but since it is close to the airport not real high. Since I live near an airport, they are common and I’ve learned to ignore them.

I think that I must have been experiencing some effect from the chopper blades, but I didn’t feel a breeze from the helicopter, it just had very deep whoosh, whoosh, whoosh sound. I’m surprised, but I think somehow that helicopter caused that vertigo sensation.

this sounds like a job for the mythbusters.

I’m not saying you’re full of it at all…id just like to see the experiment.
I could see something like that causing weird reactions.

I’ve worked on helicopters before (9 years in the Air Force), and believe me, you would know if you were in their down-draft. It will literally blow you over its that strong.

I would say depending on the type of helo that flew over, its possible the sound wave from the blades made that happen. A Huey (MASH style copters) would definitely cause that, seeing how they only have two blades to keep them aloft. A blackhawk, not so much of a worry there. A Chinook (two main blades on top, no tail blade) could cause this as well. They only have 3 blades per rotor to keep them aloft. A dolphine copter, no. I wanna say they move way too fast to do something like this.

From the deep whooshing sounds, it was likely a huey. You can hear those things a few miles out with the whooshing they make. And yes, if they are flying low enough, you can feel it in your chest, even at a couple miles out.

your excuses are getting worse and worse!

Hey Brian, What was a helicopter doing flying in my air space! :slight_smile:

I can’t argue with Mouse’s skepticism, but I’m glad Rubix makes it sound plausible. It was a lager helo, white with orange trim, yeah, a Huey I think.

mythbusters drives me nuts. does anyone else feel like they make a complete joke of the scientific process? most people that I know in the sciences seem to not take that show seriously. I do enjoy the entertainment value of the show, but its just not very scientific.

FYI, military pilots often do mess with people on the ground when they fly. So if they happened to have seen ya, then ya, they were gonna make you UPD somehow. Needless to say, sometimes their stories are funny. But then when you are on the receiving end, not so much.

My dad is an electrical engineer, he does work for the University of Idaho and also NASA, and he loves it…the Mythbusters crew also visited the U of I and gave a talk to the Electrical Engineering department.
They’re geniuses in their field, honestly.

Im not doubting their intelligence. They definitely know how to put on a good show, but they very rarely satisfy me with the way they test the myths and don’t really prove or disprove anything.

I much prefer Shaun Johanneson to do my mythbusting. :stuck_out_tongue:

The only time I’ve had a feeling like that was an earthquake. I wasn’t on a Uni, but walking on a path in a park, no one else around and a 7.2 quake hit, I almost fell over. Pretty much the wierdest feeling I’ve ever had. Although I’m sure you would have known if there was an earthquake…

I searched the web for some report describing what I’d call percussion vertigo from a helicopter.

I found nothing on that but I did find discussions on ‘flicker vertigo’ that pilots can experience. Flicker vertigo can happen when the plane propeller or more likely the slower helicopter blade cast a shadow onto the pilot as it rotates. The perceived flicker can be disorientating.

I don’t recall where the sun was in respect to the helicopter, and this seems a bit far fetched I know, but maybe the helicopter flew overhead in line with the sun, and the shadow of the blades spinning caused this flicker vertigo. It was around 11am so the sun would have been high in the sky. I imagine the a subtle shadow on the road could be disorientating, especially when unexpected.

I am convincing myself that this was the cause ( because heck it’s either that or a brain tumor :slight_smile: ).

Well if a butterfly flying in Africa can effect the weather in America… :slight_smile:

I’m actually only half kidding. I’ll bet that helicopter had something to do with it too. It’s probably not something you can prove but one of those things you just gotta believe possible.

I want to blame a helicopter for a UPD. Somehow even if I thought the pilot was trying to knock me off, it would still be sweet. :smiley:

Last year on my local hills I was overflown by a Chinook helicopter while out biking; I was going up the ridgeline when it flew up from below me on one side, over the top and down the other side. The noise was so impossibly loud as it flew over my head it was very disorientating; it was beyond just hearing it with the ears and into help-my-entire-body-is-vibrating territory. That was weird.

On today’s ride I used a trail that passes beneath a bit of hillside used by paragliders and hang-gliders to take off; there I was concentrating on the trail when a massive shadow went overhead as a hang-glider headed out into the void above me. Less scary and weird, probably partly helped by being totally silent, but very cool…


I find Rubix’s explanation of the air-movement the most plausible. If the helicopter was indeed a Huey or other two-bladed machine, they beat up the air more than helicopters with more blades. You can hear them from miles away, and close up you can feel them.

Unless it was flying less than 100’ above you it’s highly unlikely you were visually impacted by shadows of the rotor blades, especially if you were not going the same speed as the helicopter.

Last weekend, just as I crossed the finish line on the Lake Tahoe ride there was a police helicopter taking off very close to the (crowded!) finish area. I got an eyeful of dust & junk but no vibration effects. It was not a Huey. Unfortunately I suspect it was taking off to go to an accident scene somewhere along the lake.

I can get the same feeling in a car.

The side windows all up, and opening the sun roof to a certain point makes everyone in the car feel a pulsating throughout there body. I cant really describe how it feels, so ill have to go out and do it again and then come back.

The helicopter rotors set up high intensity vibrations in the air. Those vibrations resonate with the airspaces in your body: mainly the lungs and sinuses, but in some cases the cranium. It can be physically uncomfortable, and cause nausea and disorientation. It’s like sitting at the traffic lights when a VW Golf pulls up alongside with some of that dreadful thump thump music vibrating the windows. You can often observe how the disorientating effect of the music makes the VW driver appear to behave like an idiot.

Does that mean he has airspace in his head? :astonished: :wink: :roll_eyes: :slight_smile: :smiley:

That was the subtle British sense of humour in action, yes.

“A helicopter forced me off the unicycle”

Aw, I was expecting a write-up like a Die Hard movie, with explosions and car chases.