I ONCE received a call from Malacañang asking if we had available 4X4’s in the City Motorpool for use. I answered with a negative. I asked what for and where for since I had for my own. They said that it would be used for retrieval operations. I asked for more details and was told that there had been a crash of one of the Presidential helicopters that took off from Baguio. A friend was in that fateful ride.

Similarly, I have reached also a conclusion that it is also the same with that of Kobe today. I had just watched a press conference of the National Transport Safety Board in the States and the issue was immediately focused on the weather particularly, fog.

Here in Baguio I was always made aware by Loakan for any activity, takeoff or landing particularly in the afternoon. But from Mansion House I am not. The reason too for not knowing about what had happened with the Presidential hopper.

Upon study I have learned that all helicopters do not have terrain alarms. Some chopper pilots just carry an iPad or some sort to aid it with some information but not as helpful when visibility is low. This was the real reason for what had happened with Kobe. Definitely not pilot error as the company was reputable and the pilot experienced.

Sometimes, while traversing Marcos Highway during the rainy season in daylight or night, the fog will overwhelm any driver. Being one from Baguio and knowing the road well, I am at an advantage. However, if it is that difficult on land how difficult can it be when there is no roads to speak of on the air.

However, the mountain slopes will be key. It was learned too that they were flying at high altitude for choppers but still mountains still tower above.

It is just unfortunate that this has happened, I had lost some other friends from their own hoppers. For reasons I will not be exact with, theirs happened in clear skies and in broad daylight. So there is no comparison to the circumstances this recent accident may be.

A helicopter is indeed the best way to hop from one place to another. Most air taxis are composed of a fleet of helicopters. They may land anywhere if ever. For most industry leaders or the rich and famous by chopper you can get to anyplace faster. For the important, it is also secure as you will not need a bulletproof vehicle, again it is faster and avoids public roads.

I am not putting any blame on anyone here. I just so happen to learn of some reasons as to why a chopper is needed by most. The comparison with an airplane from altitude and airports is so far off, there’s no comparison. For some a hopper it will only be.

Some friends of mine even say that it is easier to learn how to fly a plane, it is obviously more difficult to fly a chopper than an airplane. However for those that need to go places a chopper it will be.

Friends who fly and own choppers have just mentioned that if it is your time, so it will be. A necessity it is for some to fly in one. For business and time nothing beats a hopper. Takeoff and landing is easy. No traffic.

I did ride the Presidential chopper, I did so with many others for some other reasons. Once I did ride along the Naguilian area using the river way as our highway to Baguio with a chopper only to head back to La Union because of heavy fog. We were surveying an area for a possible sanitary landfill along Sablan.

What we do for Baguio. The pilot mentioned that the safest way was the river as it was just like a road without any hazards especially on low visibility, however we tried it was not possible to reach Baguio, so we went back down for safety reasons.

Unlike an airplane there is no fog up above, but choppers or hoppers are for what it is for, short travel at short time. An airplane needs a landing area, passengers go thru a departure and arrival area. Before you know it you have lost 6 hours for a 45 minute flight. I always say I drive faster to reach Baguio before even when there were airplanes to Baguio. Funny but despite the expressways of today it took me just 2 to 3 hours only from Baguio to Manila and back. Just like choppers there is less traffic up above. It was also so when there was less cars then.

Today that is the main reason why like Kobe and many others, they get to arrive on time with one. Before all this Kobe had travelled many times on one. For him he gets to do what he has to do and get home and spend more time with family.