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It’s a Helicopter…What More Do I Need to Know?

Posted 1 years 1 days ago ago by RandyRowles     0 Comments

For me, my career in helicopters began with a keen interest in understanding how a helicopter worked. I wanted to know how did it fly? How did the rotor blades stay fixed to the aircraft while turning so rapidly? These questions were only a few of the points that made helicopter flight turn from interest to passion in my life. My story isn’t unique among the helicopter family. As a matter of fact, its relatively common place to hear such stories. However, many of the up-and-coming helicopter enthusiasts today lack interest in the machine; a fact that may lead to a deadly form of boredom known as complacency!

Understanding the aircraft that you fly is much more than just having the ability to describe a system or explain a procedure. Knowing the history of a design feature or what a limitation really means in the context of component life is a real asset to an experienced pilot or mechanic. This information is rarely found in the textbook. Much of the knowledge and insight into some helicopters deeply held secrets come from years upon years of hands-on experience. It is within the desire to learn more about the craft we try to tame that a shared interest and common ground with the elders in our industry can be found.

Mentoring is a lost art in the helicopter industry. The aging helicopter pilots and mechanics view the new-to-industry youngsters as entitled and un-wanting of their tutelage. Many new helicopter pilots and mechanics feel being viewed in such a light as disrespectful to their efforts to be included in the industry they’ve worked so hard for. An impasse? Not hardly. Its more of a systemic problem fostered by operators and regulators not bridging the gaps through focused-based mentoring and employee participation succession programs.  

It is factual that some cultural changes foster mediocrity within our industry. The ability to gain insight into almost any subject via handheld device is most certainly enticing when weighed against hours and hours of hands-on sweat equity-based learning. However, knowledge gained just-in-time phonetically may have no recall ability when a life or death decision is needed. Understanding the inner workings of your aircraft will save your life someday. This knowledge and experience cannot be learned solely within a virtual world. To gain such insight and perspective into the mechanics of the machine require the personal attributes of desire, effort, and attitude.

A positive attitude will take your career farther and faster than any self-perceived skillsets that you may feel are important to display. Combining a positive attitude with a desire to gain insight from those within our industry having the experience to guide you, teach you, and share with you will pay dividends to your future. The belief that all of those before you are doing nothing more than stifling your career simply by their presence is simply ignorant…and dangerous. 

Take the time to get to know your helicopter; both the machine and the industry. Learn the history, the mission, and more from the people that paved the way to the industry we have today. 

Respect the past, create the future! (Author Unknown)

About Randy:  Randy Rowles has been a FAA pilot examiner for 20 years for all helicopter certificates and ratings. He holds a FAA Gold Seal Flight Instructor Certificate, NAFI Master Flight Instructor designation, and was the 2013 recipient of the HAI Flight Instructor of the Year Award.  Randy is currently  Director of Training at Epic Helicopters in Ft. Worth, Texas.

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