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Bashing a Million Bucks with a Hammer

Story by Byron Edgington

Back in Ohio I landed my first stable, long-term—I thought—commercial flying job. The position was with a start-up company in Toledo, with a brand new helicopter, and the promise of an experience many pilots never have, the chance to start a flight operation from the ground up. It was also the first time I got canned.

HELICOPTER LEASING – Challenges & Opportunities!

By Aubrey Point and Gary Fitzgerald

Pure operating leasing is a relatively new, but fast growing, financial product in the helicopter world.  The numerous benefits of operating leasing are matched by some substantial challenges that are inherent in the structure of the helicopter operator industry.  This article aims to explain these challenges and opportunities for operators and investors alike.

Helicopter Pilot Insurance Coverage Trends
By Rick Lindsey

Helicopter accidents can result in property damage, death or catastrophic injuries.  When things go wrong, there is usually plenty of blame to go around.  Read the headlines today and you’ll see that millions of dollars have been awarded in liability lawsuits. 

Helicopter pilots are trained, highly skilled, cautious and careful professionals who understand the importance of being proactive by double-checking all systems, safety checks, and other factors when piloting a helicopter.  A pilot must be prepared to be thrust into a dangerous or unexpected situation at any moment and have the skills to react quickly.

Avionics Upgrades Breath New Life into Old Birds
by James Careless

The Bell 212 Twin Huey is a venerable rotorcraft, with 45 years of history
under its blades.  Unfortunately, a decades-old helicopter cockpit experiences a lot of wear and tear.  Add analog 'steam gauge' displays, and the result can be a visually shabby, technologically-obsolete cockpit that can compel all but the hardiest of helicopter enthusiasts to pay more for brand new aircraft - even if the older model still has lots of life in it!

CRM – The Last Line of Defense!

by Randy Mains

Imagine you’re an aviation doctor and you hold the cure to save lives in a deadly segment of helicopter aviation.  One day you learn that the FAA has finally mandated that all Part 135 operators must be administered this cure, or they cannot fly.  You gladly offer the cure, knowing it can save lives.  However, you soon discover that the parent (the helicopter company) of the patient (the flight crew) doesn’t want to give the full dose because of the added time and expense it takes to administer it.  So the helicopter company waters down the dose to near microscopic proportions, which satisfies the letter of the law, while successfully avoiding the spirit of the law.  But in their effort to save time and money, they render the cure totally useless.  It is my opinion that’s what’s happening in many HEMS programs.

As a working helicopter pilot of 22 years, I have watched the bumpy business roads that MD Helicopters has travelled.  Although the legacy of MD is much older than its owner, Lynn Tilton, it seems like it may have inherited its resilient scrappiness from the company’s matriarch.

RPMN: Tell me about your first flight.
My first flight was in an R-22 in beautiful Bend, Oregon.  I remember walking out to the helipad and being in utter shock at the size of these tiny helicopters!  After working as mechanic and flying as aircrew on MH60-Jayhawk helicopters in the Coast Guard for seven years, the downsize was truly astounding.  However, I was completely charmed… that is, until I found out I had to carry a cushion just to reach the yaw pedals.  Needless to say, my ‘glory’ moment was comically diminished.

On October 5, 2005, I was paired up with Parry Jameson in one of our patrol helicopters.  It was a Wednesday afternoon, around 3:00.  It was time for us to wind down and hand the baton to the night shift.

On our way back, Parry and I noticed that we were a little low on fuel.  We were almost over our base at Gillespie Field in El Cajon, getting ready to land, when we got a radio call.

There is an old aviation axiom that goes like this: How do you make a million dollars in aviation?  Answer:  Start out with two million dollars!

It doesn’t matter if you have designs on becoming a pilot, mechanic, or business owner, the aviation industry can be very unforgiving.  There is virtually nothing easy about being successful, especially in the rough and tumble world of flight training.  Inject a helicopter into the equation and your “difficulty factor” goes up exponentially.

Flying the V-22 Osprey is a dream I could not have imagined happening in my lifetime.  However, through a serendipitous meeting with Dr. Kevin Hutton, CEO of MedEvac Foundation International (the organization that sponsored me to be the keynote speaker at the Association of Air Medical Services, Air Medical Transport Conference) Kevin said he could arrange for me to ‘fly’ the Osprey simulator.  It was an invitation too good to pass up.

RPMN: How did you get started transporting helicopters?

WARGO:  Well the first airframe I, myself, transported was my sailplane.  I’d land out; we’d put it on a trailer and bring it back to the airport.  But as far as H. W. Farren goes, I started work here in 1989.  We moved big machinery back then; we didn’t really specialize in helicopter transport.

When I was a kid, my mom always had a ready supply of catchy “wisdoms” that fit every occasion, and even future occasions.  A few of my favorites were: “Make sure you wear clean underwear in case you need to go to the emergency room,” “That won’t last as long as a fart in a whirlwind,” and “Beauty is only skin deep, but ugly is to the bone.” However, the one I still reflect upon to this day is “Watch your pennies and your dollars will take care of themselves.”

Badly thought-out ergonomics nearly got me killed in January 1969. As you may know, a segment of flight safety called ergonomics is the study of designing equipment and devices in the cockpit that fit the human body.  The incident occurred three months into my one-year tour as a UH-1H Huey pilot in Vietnam.  Ironically, it was my first real close brush with death over there, ironic because it didn’t come at the hand of a V.C. with an AK-47, or from an RPG (rocket-propelled grenade).  Instead, I nearly lost my life at the hand of the company instructor pilot who was checking me out in the Bell 205 while giving me my aircraft commander check ride.

This week, from the Paris Airshow, Bell Helicopter announced its return to the short light single (SLS) engine helicopter market with a new product designed to specifications based on the input of a customer advisory council. Bell Helicopter’s new, five-seat entry-level aircraft is expected to complete its first flight in 2014 with certification to follow as quickly as possible.

It was a week after Coast Guard Commandant Admiral Bob Papp had given his “State of the Coast Guard” address.  Capt. Joseph P. Kelly, commanding officer of Air Station Elizabeth City, had set aside an afternoon for all-hands training to watch the speech and reflect on themes from the address.

Schmoozing.  Brown-nosing.  Unfortunately, networking is often thought of as one of these less than flattering activities.  I encourage you to think again.  Embracing the true concept of networking could be the vital link to your desired career opportunity.

Discussion: Some flight helmets may contain outdated components that don’t afford the same level of protection as updated components. Additionally, some manufactures are misrepresenting their products by stating that they meet military
specifications (milspec) or that they’re “exactly the same” as milspec helmets and related components. Wearing helmets that don’t meet the agency requirements is not only against DOI and USFS policy, it’s downright dangerous!

RPMN: Tell me about your first flight.

VANDELAAR:  My first flight in a helicopter was in an R22 out of Troy, Michigan.  I went to take the age old intro-flight out of a local flight school in college.  We hovered over the skylight of a nearby mall, and quite frankly, it scared me.  It took me about two weeks to admit that, but I was really impressed with the machine, so I decided to take up training.

Private sector aerial firefighters report their aircraft are mission-ready for what could be another devastating fire season in the US, as dry conditions continue to persist over much of the country.  In fact, according to a US Forest Service (USFS) spokesman, the 2013 fire season is projected to be similar to last year’s, when 9.3 million acres of wildland were destroyed, by a total of 67,674 fires.

The Department for Transport in the United Kingdom has awarded its UK affiliate Bristow Helicopters Limited (Bristow Helicopters) a new contract to provide civilian Search and Rescue (SAR) services for all of the UK. The SAR services contract has a phased-in transition period beginning in April 2015 and continuing to July 2017 and a contract length of approximately ten years.

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