The word "Helipad "may not be familiar here in the country, neither the purpose it serves. We are only conversant with runways found at airports. No wonder when the Federal government constructed a helipad for President Buhari at his home in Daura Katsina, there was a public debate which questioned the necessity of the project as a large number of the populace couldn't tell what a helipad is.
As part of our efforts on Naijauto to educate you, this post will let you know helipad definition, history and uses.
1. What is a helipad?
Simply put, a helipad is an area or platform where helicopters and powered-lift aircraft can take off and land. These powered-lift aircraft include airplane, glider, and rotorcraft, and powered parachute, lighter-than-air, and weight-saving control.
Larger helipads which might be used by helicopters and powered-lift aircraft to land are referred to as vertiports.
A helipad is an area or platform where helicopters and powered-lift aircraft can take off and land
Let's see the first time a helipad was used.
2. History and purposes of the helipad
The helipad was first used in the early 50s by the US Army during the Korean War. They were using a helicopter to airlift their injured soldiers from the battlefield. If there had not been a landing area serving as helipads, the helicopter would have found it difficult landing safely. Again, the helipad was used during the Vietnam War when helicopters were being used to transport soldiers and their supplies across the country
A helipad has a standard design which is a round circle and the letter "H" boldly written on it
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The construction of the helipad follows a standard design for the landing platform, which is a round circle and the letter "H" boldly written on it. Getting a landing space that’s clearly marked is necessary for the helicopter when landing as it's susceptible to obstacles. Helipads can either be found in commercial areas like businesses, venues, hotels, hospital or on rooftops and military installations. They are also built on ships.
Helipads can also be built on a ship as seen in the pix
Most times, a helipad may have the letter H written in a triangle or circle. They usually have a meaning. When the triangle is used, it's considering the safety of the helicopter based on the environment and so demands that it takes a certain landing direction. For the circle, the pilot is made to freely choose where to land, based on the direction of the wind.
Helipads provide a clear platform for helicopters to land safely without obstruction and what is called "brownout”. This is a situation where the helicopter lands on a dusty surface. Here, the pilot's visibility is zero and he won't be able to tell when he's closer to the surface.
This situation was exactly what caused the helicopter crash of the Vice President Osinbajo in February. The dusty weather couldn't allow the pilot see so he ended up hitting the ground. So, you now know the importance of a helipad.
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