Jesus nut, or Jesus pin, is a slang term for the main rotor retaining nut which holds the main rotor to the mast of some helicopters, such as the UH-1 Iroquois helicopter; or more generally is any component that represents a single point of failure with catastrophic consequences.
The term Jesus nut may have been coined by American soldiers in Vietnam; the Vietnam War was the first war to feature large numbers of soldiers riding in helicopters.
If the Jesus pin were to fail in flight, the helicopter would detach from the rotor and the only thing left for the crew to do would be to "pray to Jesus." Real examples of the Jesus pin failing are few and far between. However, the pin must be checked before the flight. Some more recent helicopter systems do not have a Jesus nut.
Another use for the term is found in rock climbing, in which it refers to the first piece of protection (some of which are also called "nuts") placed on a pitch. This piece must be placed to resist an outward pull as well as a downward pull in order to avoid the possibility of a "zipper", in which the outward pull on the rope from the belayer arresting a falling climber pulls protection pieces from the bottom up. In addition, the Jesus nut prevents the possibility of a factor-two fall onto the belay anchor.
- Aviation Safety Maintainer 1/2002: Fatigue and Complacency - A Potentially Sorrowful Mixture Archived 2013-05-17 at the Wayback Machine. Transport Canada
- Coley, David (2013). High - Advanced Multi Pitch Climbing. Akreative. pp. Section 408 of 5150.
- Long, John and Gaines, Bob (2006). "Climbing Anchors, 2nd Edition". Falcon Press, London. ISBN 0-7627-2326-2.