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Matt Zuccaro

RPMN: What is your current position?

President and Chief Operating Officer - Helicopter Association International
President and Chief Operating Officer - Helicopter Foundation International
Industry Co-Chair - International Helicopter Safety Team

RPMN: Tell me about your first flight.

My very first flight was in a fixed-wing, a J-3 Cub, as a 13-year old Civil Air Patrol cadet.  My first helicopter flight was in a Hiller OH-23 Raven as a 19-year old Army Warrant Officer Candidate at Fort Wolters, Texas.  Although both flights were unbelievably exciting, the more memorable was the Hiller OH-23, mostly due to my inability to maintain any level of control over the aircraft.
 
RPMN: How did you get your start in helicopters?

My initial introduction to helicopters was the same as many of my peers, via Army flight school. I did the then normal Vietnam tour and was a flight and classroom instructor at the Army flight school at Fort Rucker upon my return.
 
RPMN: When and how did you choose to fly helicopters? Or did they choose you?

They chose me. When in college I was originally involved with the fixed-wing Marine Aviation Cadet Program. I found out
that I could immediately enter the Army helicopter Warrant Officer program and go to flight school.  Wanting to fly as soon as I could I signed up to go to Army flight school. I eventually got my fixed-wing ratings anyway.
 
RPMN: Where did you get your start flying commercially?

My first primary civilian job was in 1971 with Island Helicopters in the New York city area as a flight instructor and charter pilot flying the Bell 47 series, 206 A&B series, Sikorsky S-62, S-55, S-58.  I also flew part-time then as an air tour pilot in a Hughes 269 and as personal pilot for owners of a Brantly B2B and an Enstrom F28.

RPMN: If you were not in the helicopter industry, what else would you see yourself doing?

Most likely a doctor specializing in trauma or cardiac care, with a second possibility being an attorney.
 
RPMN: What do you enjoy doing on your days off?

To be honest, I don't have much down time from work and related travel, so I just like to relax, spend time with my family and friends, catch entertainment events like a movie, Broadway show or concert. I am a pretty low-maintenance guy. I can be happy just flicking the TV remote.

RPMN: What is your greatest career accomplishment to date?

I like to think I have made a positive difference in the international helicopter community through my activities at HAI and other venues, such as the International Helicopter Safety Team and the Eastern Region Helicopter Council when I was still in New York. I will leave that for others to judge.
 
RPMN: Have you ever had an "Oh crap" moment in a helicopter?

Simply put, several "Oh crap" moments! Most were long ago early in my career, both military and civilian, thankfully none resulted in an accident, damage or injury. A few of them were self-induced due to my bad risk assessment or decision making. Good news is I not only survived each one, but learned from each one and never repeated any of them again.

RPMN:If you could give only ONE piece of advice to a new helicopter pilot, what would it be?

Safety First: Above all else, all the time. 

RPMN: In your view, what is the greatest challenge for the helicopter industry at this moment in time?
  
To be accurate the greatest challenge is a combination of many things, but some of the top issues are:

The next generation of helicopter professionals are not on the horizon. Noise and safety will continue to restrict our ability to grow, operate and maintain an acceptable heliport network. And the economical viability of the industry must be continually monitored and insured.

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