Articles for category Opinion-Editorial
Two years ago I posted an article to LinkedIn entitled, “What We Get Wrong!” At the time I didn’t realize how that it would resonate with many people either transitioning out of the military or those that had. So after two years, I decided to write a follow up to it. Once again I asked a few chief pilots and helicopter industry human resource recruiters for their thoughts on what military pilots get right and what they enjoy about them. The following is an overview, in no specific order, of military veterans’ positive attributes.
When given a task they complete it. Former military members are very mission oriented. They understand what needs to be done to get the job done; when tasks are complete they offer assistance and jump in to help others with others tasks, even if it means sweeping the hangar.
When declining a position, they are very courteous and don’t burn bridges. Taking the extra minute to let someone know you have decided to take another job somewhere else in a gracious manner is well received an appreciated. For example, “Thank you for the opportunity to work for your company, but I have found a position with another company that I think I am a better fit for.” That is better received than “I’m not going to work here and found something else that pays better,” or just blowing them off. [Read More...]
Military Helicopter Pilots
Military to Civilian
There are times when helicopters can’t just fly from one place to another, and during those times, Farren International comes to the rescue.
Sometimes it’s because the rotorcraft is in pieces, either because it’s not yet assembled or tragically because it crashed. Other times it’s operable, but it’s a prototype not yet authorized to fly anywhere outside of specified testing zones. It might be that a new owner doesn’t want to add flight time to the precious cargo until it’s in his hands. Or they’re military secrets that the public can’t see flying overhead. In the case of aerospace projects, such as rockets, they aren’t designed to fly to their launch points. “We’re probably the premier aircraft ground transportation company,” said Glenn Wargo, Farren’s director of aircraft transportation who helped start up that portion of Farren’s business back in 1989. [Read More...]
helicopter ground transport
If I were to describe the state of the aerial firefighting industry today, it would come down to two words: preparation and uncertainty. Preparation is for fire seasons that are only getting worse and much more destructive. Uncertainty is because nobody yet knows just how federal budgetary issues and funding for wildland firefighting are going to play out.
At least the good news is that as fire seasons get longer and merge, the industry is well prepared. There is no better evidence of that than the industry’s performance throughout the 2017 fire season. Starting in Florida in early February, and spreading nationwide with almost no letup, wildland fires raged out of control, often for weeks at a time. In California, the state experienced the most destructive fires in its history, as more than 9,130 fires burned over 1,381,400 acres, consuming in excess of 10,800 structures and taking 43 lives, including two firefighters. Particularly hard hit were the densely populated, wildland/urban interface areas of southern California, as well as the San Francisco Bay region’s northern counties. [Read More...]
helicopter foresty firefighting operators
US Aerial firefighting industry
US Forestry Helicopter Firefighting
Because of a fateful decision made in Fort Rucker back in the 1980s, rather than conducting an interview in Boise, Idaho, as the president of night vision leader Aviation Specialties Unlimited (ASU), Jim Winkel could have well instead been conducting a Bible study in Central America as a missionary. Whether that decision was made with providential prayerful guidance, or just good judgment, Winkel now gets to faithfully serve two masters: (1) At ASU, he serves his passion for night vision technology, and (2) at All Saints Presbyterian Church, he fulfills an even higher calling as an elder for his Presbyterian Church in America’s missionary efforts.
A lot of lessons were learned, and a lot of time and moves transpired before Winkel worked his way to the president’s desk in Idaho. Some moves were historic; one of Winkel’s earliest boyhood memories is making the westward road trip along Route 66, as millions did to California, so his father could work for Shell Oil in the San Francisco Bay Area. Winkel spent most of his childhood there in the ‘60s, but the elder Winkel again was transferred, to Houston, Texas, which was far removed from the California counterculture scene of the 1960s. “Making that move was quite a culture shock,” Winkel recalls. “Racial desegregation in the schools was a big issue at the time in Texas, an issue that didn’t impact me in California.” Civil rights race issues weren’t the only adaptation. Winkel humorously remembers, “Another big change I had to adapt to was the Texas accent. I remember our PE coach telling us not to forget our towel fee to wash our towels. I thought he was saying not to forget our taffy fee; I was wondering why in the world we needed to buy candy in gym class?” Winkel adjusted to Southern culture enough to successfully ask a fellow high school student, Sandy, out on a date. It must have gone well, the couple has been married for 37 years. [Read More...]
Aviation Specialties Unlimited
helicopter night vision goggles
Night Vision goggle training
Night Vision Goggles
In its third year, Rotorcraft Pro’s annual U.S. Pilot Salary & Benefits Survey was initially launched in an effort to monitor and report trends on the salaries of pilots in the industry. Traditionally, surveys were sent directly to employers via snail mail in ballot form, then collected and tabulated. This old method did provide interesting results, but because employers are reluctant to reveal the exact salaries and benefits they provide, the sampling could be rather small and probably wasn’t always representative of the larger whole.
Online technologies have given us the ability to survey actual pilots and their employers thus generating more participation throughout the industry. As in previous years, this year’s survey had excellent participation and we have obtained some of the latest information on helicopter pilots: [Read More...]
Helicopter Pilot Earning
Helicopter Pilots Salary
Rotorcraft Pro Helicopter Pilot Salary Survey
RPMN: What is your current position?
I am currently the President and CEO of Sevier County Choppers Inc. Our main business is conducting overhauls on Robinson helicopters, along with a small flight school and touring business. We are a family owned and operated business.
RPMN: Tell me about your first flight.
My first flight in a helicopter was during Army flight school. About halfway through I was pretty sure I would not be able to do this. I really thought I was going to throw up on my instructor and was probably several shades of green. Of course this was August in lower Alabama, so the heat didn’t help much. [Read More...]
meet a rotorcraft pro
Sevier County Choppers
“Why do you do what you do?”
That’s a question Rick Weatherford, copy editor and staff writer for Rotorcraft Pro, asked me recently. Rick casts a discerning editorial eye over everything I write for the magazine, so I suppose he became curious about what motivates me.
When I asked him exactly what he meant he made his query more specific:
“Randy, what fuels your burning passion for promoting rotorcraft safety? Is it statistics, or your personal experiences? Do you believe helicopter safety is generally being addressed in the wrong way and you think you have a solution that’s been overlooked? Or is it some combination of all these issues as well as others that I didn't allude to?”
I vividly remember the exact date and time I decided I needed to return to the USA to deliver a life-saving message. The date was August 31, 2010; the time: 10:00 PM. That’s when I learned of yet another air medical crash; a Bell Jet Ranger in Arkansas went into the clouds and came out the bottom in pieces killing the pilot and the two-person medical crew who had entrusted their lives to him. [Read More...]
Crew Resource Management
Helicopter Safety Management Systems
Since I received such a good response to my last article on annual inspections, I thought I’d follow up with another piece on helicopter pre-buy inspections.
Just about everything written relating to aircraft pre-buys is skewed to the plank-wing side of the industry. While similar in scope, there are several distinct differences in reviewing a helicopter before purchase.
So sit back, pop a top, and we’ll see if I can keep you awake for the next 1,500 words. [Read More...]
Helicopter Pre Buy
Helicopter Pre-Buy Inspection
Pre Buy Inspection
Able Aerospace Services, a Textron-owned company in Mesa, Arizona, has built the numbers in its favor. In its 30 years of business, the MRO (maintenance, repair, and overhaul) corporation has repaired millions of components for OEMs and operators across the globe. Two key drivers: An innovative, solutions-focused culture, and an on-site, experienced engineering team that works with designated engineering representatives.
One dedicated engineer rose through Textron’s ranks to pilot Able Aerospace Services from an all-encompassing view. In that rise, general manager Gabriel Massey, a Montreal native, hasn’t lost his engineering enthusiasm for numbers. “I was always good at math and numbers,” he says. “Many of my relatives were engineers, so I always knew it was part of my path, but others were entrepreneurs, which fostered an equal interest in business strategy – a little unique for an engineer.” At Able, this helps him to see more than just digits and details. “It’s important to understand the details, but not get buried in them,” Massey observes. “As a leader, it’s a balance of digging into technical details when necessary, but at the same time not managing the details. I allow my teams to take care of their details and make their own decisions.” That’s a lesson Massey learned watching other leaders during his rise. “I’ve seen leaders that are good in the details, but never rise up above them, and I’ve seen some that didn’t master details and were disconnected.” [Read More...]
RPMN: If you could give only one piece of advice to a new helicopter pilot, what would it be?
The helicopter industry is a small community and your reputation will follow you as a pilot. My best advice is always be honest and professional. If you make a mistake such as over-torquing the aircraft, cause a little hanger rash, or overfly an inspection, admit your mistake and live to fly another day. Don’t try to hide it or not report it. Even the smallest lie will have your peers second guessing your integrity and it will likely follow you your entire aviation career. I have seen and read about pilots getting fired just because they did not report something or lied about it. If they were upfront and honest in the first place, they would have kept their job. Everyone makes mistakes. [Read More...]
meet a rotorcraft pro