Breitling Adventure Talk
Aka “Captain Q”, Smith is a full-time helicopter pilot and explorer. Q holds a Guinness World Record for the first person to fly to both the North and South Poles by helicopter, and has twice been helicopter aerobatics world champion. His quest is to fly anywhere no other helicopter pilot has been, which has resulted in two major crashes
Do you ever get scared?
“Don’t handicap yourself in any way by worrying about death.
That doesn’t mean deliberately do dangerous things. Don’t be silly with it, try and do it well but don’t hold back. The most dangerous thing you can do is not live.”
Speaking of death, you had a crash earlier this year. What happened?
“Just on the approach [near Bergen, Norway], something blew up into the rotor, broke something. In six seconds we were in the water.”
“It’s quite violent on your body, and the hydraulic system is overwhelmed, so the controls go absolutely rock solid and they’re very, very hard to move. You could call it a narrow escape.”
It wasn’t the first time you ditched, was it?
“No. The first time was in the Drake Passage in the South Atlantic near Antarctica — famously known as the ‘roughest sea in the world’ with one-degree Centigrade water. We had 20 seconds until we hit the water. Suddenly, I was sitting in a dinghy in the ocean.”
How did you escape?
“I signalled with my 1215 VHF Breitling Emergency watch. You can twist the knob, pull it and out comes an antenna. The newer version is even cleverer — with 406 megahertz that’s detected by satellite. A Chilean icebreaker came and found us.”
Quentin ‘Captain Q’ Smith entertained with tales of adventure and