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“Positivity” is the word that immediately springs to mind when I think of what my wife, Kaye, and I experienced at the fifth-annual HELISUCCESS conference that took place in Las Vegas, Nevada, in November.  Positivity…yep, that’s what it was and the feeling was palpable.

I cannot adequately convey the enormity of the impact that conference had on us.  Days after that event, we were still basking in the glow of that experience.  We both agree that we have never experienced anything like it where a group of people, mentors and attendees alike, seemed to all be pulling in the same direction to accomplish one goal, HELISUCCESS.   What an apt title for such a worthwhile get together.
HELISUCCESS is the brainchild of this magazine’s editor-in-chief and co-owner, Lyn Burks.  Back in 2007, he saw a need to create a venue where up-and-coming helicopter pilots could receive tips and recommendations from those who have been in the industry for many years, on how to succeed in all aspects of the business.  Most of the attendees are in that difficult time in their career where they are building hours to become employable in the eyes of helicopter operators, and are working to satisfy the hourly and experience requirements for the insurance companies and operators who demand minimum experience and flight time.

The topics covered during the two-day event were:

  • Advancement in the Helicopter Industry and Professionalism & Attitude "Recipe for Success"  by Randy Rowles, GM at Era Training Center.
  • Careers in Law Enforcement Flying, given by Dean Springer, retired Senior Special Agent with the Department of Homeland Security.
  • Networking—Do or Die, given by Stacy Sheard, S-76 and S-92 Test Pilot for Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation.
  • Military to Civilian—Making the Jump!, presented by Heidi Ames, Chief Pilot, Keystone MedFlight and a Master Army Aviator with 21 years civilian and military experience.
  • Resume Tips and Tricks for Helicopter Pro's, given  by Lyn Burks, Veteran Helicopter Pilot, ATP/CFII, Helicopter Industry Recruiter, Owner/Developer of Justhelicopters.com, and Editor In Chief / Owner of Rotorcraft Pro Magazine.
  • Opportunities in International Flying, given by Dave Tibbals, Dave has been to 23 countries while serving in the Marines flying the CH-53 and now as a civilian pilot working for CHC.
  • Fire/Utility Flying, given by Barry Lloyd, Helicopter Program Manager for CAL FIRE. Forty-four year veteran helicopter pilot with experience in both civilian and military operations.
  • Success in the Oil Patch-What to Expect, given by Jim Palmer, Thirty plus years experience in the helicopter industry in the Gulf of Mexico.
  • So You Want to be an EMS Pilot, given by Dennis McCall, Veteran Helicopter Pilot & Chief Pilot of Air Methods Corporation.
  • Success Flying Tours - What to Expect, Mark Schlaefli, ATP/CFII, Assistant Chief Pilot, Papillon Grand Canyon Helicopters.

Onsite resume consultants, Chris Fischer & Heidi Ames, were available during segments of the event providing one-on-one resume consults with attendees.  A job fair took place in an adjoining room the last day of the conference. 
How I wish there had been something like HELISUCCESS when I was looking for my first helicopter flying job.
My presentation, the final talk of the conference, was on Career Survival 101—Nuggets to Live By.  When Lyn asked me to present he gave me great advice when he told me, “Just offer tips to the attendees as if you were speaking to your son or daughter entering the field.”  It was good advice and that is what I did.  After each day’s presentations, the speakers for that day were asked to stand at the front of the room and answer questions by the attendees. 
After I delivered my speech, and after the speakers answered questions at the end of the day, I must have personally answered questions for two hours from attendees eager to learn how and what they could do to succeed.  Many had questions for my wife, Kaye, too on what it was like to live abroad.
I know many of you who read Rotorcraft Pro are already well established in the field, but I want to report that you would be very proud to see the professionalism, passion, drive, and determination these young men and women possess hoping to one day make it where you are, living the dream of doing a job they love and being paid to do it. 
The commitment to succeed was evident in every story we heard from the attendees.  For example, Patrick Danielson and his young wife, with their one-month old child and six-year-old boy, drove 12 hours from Idaho to Las Vegas to attend.   Most of the attendees we spoke to were like Patrick.  They too had made huge sacrifices in their lives to shoot for the dream.
I can report that, from what I’ve seen, the next generation of helicopter pilots are men and women to be proud of.  They are sterling individuals showing great integrity and drive.  I personally wish every one of them every success --- make that HELISUCCESS --- that I have no doubt they will attain.

EDITOR'S NOTE - HeliSuccess Lite, A one-day version of the popular HeliSuccess Career Development Seminar is being hosted by the Helicopter Association International at HELI-EXPO 2013 as part of its Professional Education Course offerings. LEARN MORE HERE:



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