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
On 17 October 2017, a flight instructor and commercially rated pilot were practicing instrument approaches at the Molokai Airport (Hawaii) when they were lost from radar. Debris from the helicopter was found floating on the water northwest of the shores of Molokai. Although they were operating on an IFR flight plan, the flight was being conducted under VFR as a Part 91 training flight. (NTSB Identification: WPR18LA010)
Air Traffic Control had cleared the aircraft for a practice RNAV (GPS)-B instrument approach to the Molokai Airport. They were provided instructions for the missed approach procedure, which included a climb to 4,000 feet and a heading of 040 degrees. Following completion of the instrument approach, they reestablished radio contact with Air Traffic Control (ATC). They were then issued a clearance to PHNL (Honolulu International Airport) with instructions to fly a heading of 260 degrees, then 240 degrees and ascend to an altitude of 4,000 feet. They were to intercept the Victor 8 airway, which they confirmed with ATC. Shortly after, the controller noticed the flight had descended to 3,600 feet before radar and radio communication with the helicopter was lost. [Read More...]
Helicopter Simulation Training
“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
Ever wonder where, or how, some of the parts on your helicopter were made? When I say “made,” I’m talking about made from scratch...like turning a raw block of steel, aluminum, or titanium into an impeller or a transmission housing. In aerospace, it’s the highest level of engineering and manufacturing, where margins of error are so small that they are measured by laser beams.
I recently had the opportunity to learn more about a helicopter parts manufacturing powerhouse by visiting Aerometals in El Dorado Hills, California. Founded in 1984, Aerometals has spent the past 33 years transforming itself into a full-service manufacturing business that serves not only the helicopter world, but also the aerospace industry as a whole. [Read More...]
Aerospace Parts Manufacturer
Helicopter Parts Manufacturer
WASHINGTON DC – Accident rates for the U.S. civil helicopter industry flattened out during 2017, but remained well below accident totals from three and four years ago. Preliminary data shows that the 2017 accident rate was 3.55 per 100,000 flight hours, compared to an accident rate in 2016 of 3.45.
This 3 percent increase stems from a few months during 2017 with uncharacteristically high accident totals - - 18 accidents in February and 23 accidents in July. Compared to four years ago, however, the accident rate has been cut by one-third. The fatal accident rate also rose slightly year-over-year, but remained lower than the 2017 goal set by the United States Helicopter Safety Team (www.USHST.org). [Read More...]
Helicopter Accident Rate
US Helicopter Safety Team
Safety management systems (SMS), have been implemented in helicopter operations for several years. Although safety management has been part of managing aviation operations ever since the industry took off, SMS have brought about a more structured approach to capture safety hazards and assess their possible consequences and impact on operations.
Much of the success of SMS implementation depends on line employees being enabled by company management to make reports on all sort of safety events, including incidents and potentially unsafe conditions in the workplace. After several years of SMS implementation the time has come to assess where the helicopter operations industry stands in terms of safety reporting practices. [Read More...]
Helicopter Safety Management Systems
SMS Best Practices
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...]