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Meet a Rotorcraft Pro  – Adam Aldous

RPMN: What is your current position?
I am the President and CEO for Night Flight Concepts, Inc. where I oversee operations for our company.  I continuously set our corporate vision and business strategies that align with current and future business opportunities in NVG (Night Vision Goggles) related activities.

RPMN: What does Night Flight Concepts do?
Our company is a comprehensive NVG solution provider.  We specialize in premier NVG training and maintenance capabilities for all sizes and types of aviation organizations around the world.

RPMN: Tell me about your first flight.
My first flight was, of course, my “nickel-ride.”  The tradition at Ft. Rucker, Alabama was to bring a nickel of your birth year and present it to your instructor pilot prior to your first flight.  So I did…. And let me tell you it was the best ride of my life!  In fact, it was my first helicopter flight ever.  I immediately knew I had picked the best career out there and couldn’t wait to start flying myself.  I had the chance (to fly) for a very short spell at the end of the nickel-ride.  My stick buddy was holding on for his dear life in the back of the helicopter as I tried to hover.  I remember seeing my instructor in my peripheral actually “yawn” and even “chuckle” a bit as the helicopter did a wild dance almost hitting the ground and then a climbing 360-degree turn one way, then a descending 360-degree turn the other way.  It must of only been a few seconds, but it seemed like an eternity for me… even longer for my stick buddy in the back!  Then my instructor said, “I have the controls,” and I looked over and he had one finger on the cyclic and the aircraft came to a perfect three-foot stationary hover.  He told me, “Not bad for your first time.”  I thought he was crazy, but appreciated the confidence he had in me.  It took me eight hours to finally be able to hover on my own.

RPMN: So, you started flying in the military.
I obtained my start in helicopters through the US Army.  I always strive to challenge myself, otherwise I tend to get bored easily.  Aviation, in particular helicopter aviation, seemed very interesting and challenging to me, so I submitted my Warrant Officer packet to become a pilot.  I was accepted and off I went to Ft. Rucker, Alabama where I attended the Warrant Officer Basic Course (WOBC) and then began my flight school training for the next ten months.

RPMN: When and how did you choose to fly helicopters? Or did they choose you?
I guess the answer is “Yes” to both questions.  I definitely had made up my mind that I wanted to fly helicopters over fixed-wing, due to the various challenges I would have to overcome, but the “type” of helicopter also chose me.  I believe every helicopter pilot has a defining personality, and so does each of the types of helicopters, and the corresponding type of missions, they perform in the Army inventory.  The CH-47 Chinook multi-functional platform chose me with its overwhelming sheer power, yet gracefulness in it’s flight profile, coupled with the various types of missions the Chinook performs.  The problem however was that there were only very limited CH-47 slots available when I went to flight school.  In fact, the previous class did not have any.  Our class only had four Chinook slots, with approximately 60 newly rated pilots about to select the aircraft they would begin, and most likely complete, their Army flying career in.  I luckily got one of the Chinook slots.

RPMN: Where did you get your start flying commercially?
Actually my commercial flying career started with Night Flight Concepts.  When I started our company in 2006, there were no FAA rules or programs to convert my military flying experience to a civilian FAA instructor license.  So I attended Palm Beach Helicopters in Lantana, Florida and used my GI Bill to get the appropriate helicopter ratings and endorsements.  Since then, I have conducted a number of NVG training flights with all types of operators to include military, law enforcement, EMS, and corporate all over the world.

RPMN: If you were not in the helicopter industry, what else would you see yourself doing?
It’s hard to imagine doing something else besides aviation when you have been doing it for so long.  I would have to say that I really have a fondness for the game of golf.  Even though I sometime struggle to break 100 on the course, I really do enjoy understanding all of the rules and studying the fundamentals of the golf swing.  I believe I would really enjoy being a golf instructor.  Maybe someday…

RPMN: Other than golf, what do you enjoy doing on your days off?
It’s really nice to be able to spend uninterrupted quality time with my wife, Kara, and our soon-to-be new baby, which will be here next January if all goes well.

RPMN: What is your greatest career accomplishment to date?
I would have to say taking the risk, and making the commitment, to starting a business right out of the military.  I had a number of other career opportunities available to me when I completed my Army flying career, but I had always wanted to be an entrepreneur.  I am happy to say that after seven years of successful business ownership, it has been a great accomplishment for me personally.

RPMN: Have you ever had an “Oh, crap” moment in a helicopter?
Yes I have... almost literally.  I was deployed to Iraq in support of OIF 1.  In short summation, the food rations we had made me --- and our entire unit --- not feel so good as they were hard to keep down.  We were coming up on Talil Air Base (about halfway to Baghdad from Kuwait) and I had to go bad!  I was not going to make it to our next stop just north of Baghdad, and still another two flight hours.  At the time, we were flying in full MOPP gear (chemical and biological protection suits).  I made the call to the flight that we needed to divert to Talil, and actually declared an emergency.  With priority handling granted, I led our flight of two CH-47’s to an adjacent landing strip to the main runway.  I made it off the helicopter and was able to get relief.  It was a close call!  The funny thing is that this almost became a normal occurrence for the next few weeks.  The guys in our unit would need to make a “pit stop” at Talil.

RPMN:  I am sure that all working helicopter pilots can appreciate the need to make an “emergency” stop.  I’ve “been there and done that” myself, and thank goodness helicopters can be landed virtually anywhere!  Moving on to more sage subjects, if you could give only ONE piece of advice to a new helicopter pilot, what would it be?
Know your personal limitations.

RPMN: That sounds like a line from Clint Eastwood: “A man’s got to know his limitations.”  In your view, what is the greatest challenge for the helicopter industry at this moment in time?
I believe the greatest challenge, that’s beginning to show through the industry, is the ever-increasing shortfall of experienced helicopter pilots neededto fill the numerous job positions around the world.

Posted in: Human Interest

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