RPMN: What is your current position?
I am the director of maintenance for Haverfield Aviation in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Haverfield operates 23 MD-500 D and E models, one Garlick UH-1H, and one Delta Enterprises UH-60 A model Blackhawk. Haverfield Aviation is an innovative operator that utilizes its fleet to service the transmission power grid throughout the United States. Haverfield offers comprehensive visual inspections, demolition and construction, maintenance, OPGW support, aerial tree trimming, helicopter lift services, FLIR, and drone services.
RPMN: Tell me about your first flight.
My first flight, which gave me the aviation bug, came when I was eight years old. My Father was a high school teacher. He asked his coaching colleague, Paul Johnson, to take us for a flight in his Cessna 182. It was a great experience and the feeling of freedom that has stuck with me still to this this day. Ultimately, it became the catalyst to my dream of a career in aviation and it made me who I am today.
RPMN: How did you get your start in helicopters?
I have always been interested in helicopters. I was one of the lucky ones that the United States Marine Corps gave a shot. I made it through aircrew training and was selected for 6114/6174 MOS (Huey crew chief/door gunner). I feel that was the greatest job that I ever had as it married two of my passions: helicopters and guns. I continued on and became a 6177 WTCCI trainer and NATOPS instructor.
RPMN: When and how did you choose to fly helicopters? Or did they choose you?
Growing up, the only exposure to aviation in north-central Wisconsin, was the fixed-wing world. Airplanes do have their strong points, but the universal ability of the helicopter allows for many more applications and possibilities. It was the only way to go in my eyes. Growing up working summers on a farm and being out in the fields all day planted the seed for helicopters, field work, and travel. It truly combined my love for the outdoors, aviation, and fixing machines all together in one package.
RPMN: Where did you get your start flying commercially?
When my time in the USMC came to an end, I was fortunate to utilize my G.I. Bill and earn my A&P license. After completion of my schooling, I caught wind of the traveling job from an old Marine Corps buddy. He had decided not to take the job as he was having his first child. This September will mark the beginning of my 15th year at Haverfield. I began as a field mechanic, traveling the United States for the first eight years. I was asked to join the corporate office in 2012 in the roll of Production Manager. I enjoyed that position for two-and-a-half years before becoming the director of maintenance. It is in my current role as director of maintenance that I have been able to really sink my teeth in and affect real change. The last three-and-a-half years have had many industry challenges and Haverfield has risen to meet them all.
RPMN: If you were not in the helicopter industry, what else would you see yourself doing?
Wow, such a great question. I quite possibly would have developed my own business. At this stage I may not know what specific area of focus it would be, I would definitely be utilizing my translatable skills that I have developed in the aviation industry such as; customer relations, logistics, budgeting, profit margins, managing personnel, sales, and negotiations.
RPMN: What is your greatest career accomplishment to date?
Since becoming director of maintenance at Haverfield Aviation, my goal has been to develop a strong team to make it easier and more efficient to maintain our fleet of helicopters. My team has worked diligently with WinAir to successfully integrate Haverfield to real time electronic record keeping and maintenance tracking. Now all field personnel have the ability to research the aircraft records, ICAs, STCs, 8130s and 337s, from any hanger or cornfield anywhere in the world. This is a great accomplishment in our eyes.
I have been working with RMCI Inc. to install integrated vibration analysis equipment in our fleet of 500s. We currently have the only civilian Blackhawk with their system installed, and the capabilities have been nothing but astonishing. I have been searching for a solution to change from a reactive maintenance program to a proactive program, and RMCI has delivered.
I completely revamped the budget and brought a new outlook of how to spend money more wisely. That fiscal responsibility in combination with finding and understanding how to work with key vendors has made it possible to provide a 96 percent availability rate while operating within a tight budget. Working with companies like ITP Aero, Prime Turbines, Heli-Mart, Aerometals, and Heli-Tech, to name a few, has largely contributed to my success.
Haverfield provides safe, reliable aircraft to our pilots, crews and customers; this is the most fulfilling accomplishment of all.
RPMN: What do you enjoy doing on your days off?
I enjoy spending time with my wife Patti and the three boys. With sporting events and after school activities, it is always exciting. I enjoy riding motorcycles, boating, hunting, and fishing. Patti and I also enjoy traveling when we are not working on the house together.
RPMN: If you could give only one piece of advice to a new helicopter pilot, what would it be?
As a DOM that is not a pilot, the advice I could give a new helicopter pilot is the importance of learning your aircraft and systems. Do walk arounds with all of your mechanics and other seasoned pilots in order to gain all of the tribal and book knowledge that you can. Work with the mechanics and develop effectively sound communication with the maintenance department. Above all, remain curious, it will surely pay future dividends.
To a new mechanic, I would say the same, but add to that the importance of utilizing the maintenance manual, diligent troubleshooting, taking your time to do it right the first time, attention to detail, and to stay motivated to be the best.
RPMN: In your view, what is the greatest challenge for the helicopter industry at this moment in time?
With the type of aircraft that Haverfield operates, it is always a challenge to find parts far enough in advance, or during AOG times. As the fleet ages, manufacturers struggle with the direction of servicing existing models or concentrate on building newer models. Parts will only continue to become more difficult to find and obtain. This has been on the radar for some time by all customers. To help combat this, I have been continuously building up more inventory and adding to what we overhaul in-house.