Posted 18 days ago ago by Admin
RPMN: What is your current position?
I am currently a Civilian Pilot II, or PIC, flying the AW139 for the Maryland State Police. We primarily provide Medevac services for the state of Maryland as well as search/rescue and law enforcement services. We operate with crews of two pilots and two state trooper/medics at seven 24/7 bases across the state.
RPMN: Tell me about your first flight or experience with helicopters.
My first flight in a helicopter was in a Schweizer S300 in southeast Virginia. I decided to try helicopters while I was looking for flight schools and trying to decide which path I wanted to take when I decided to follow a career in aviation.
RPMN: How did you get your start in helicopters?
I’ve always had a soft spot for aircraft from an early age. But after graduating from college and graduate school in 2009, I looked for a job for over a year with no success. With no success in job hunting, I decided to pursue a career in aviation. I initially thought I would go the fixed-wing route until I took my first helicopter demo flight.
RPMN: When and how did you choose to fly or work on helicopters? Or did they choose you?
I like to think the helicopter community chose me. I fell in love with rotorcraft during my first helicopter demo flight and have been hooked ever since. That being said, I wouldn’t have gotten to where I am today without the support of my family and the friends that I’ve made in the helicopter community.
RPMN: Where did you get your start flying or maintaining professionally?
I got my start flying professionally as a CFI in northern Virginia. I then moved on to Grand Canyon tours based in Las Vegas. Then, as a utility pilot performing pipeline and powerline patrols and moving into firefighting. I also have performed filming flights, VIP shuttle and ferry flights, and have had the opportunity to fly a variety of airframes during my career.
RPMN: If you were not in the helicopter industry, what else would you see yourself doing?
I majored in geology and geographical information systems when I was in school. So, my best guess is that I would probably be working as a digital cartographer somewhere.
RPMN: What do you enjoy doing on your days off?
I really enjoy traveling, although as of late that hobby has been hindered. In the meantime, I have enjoyed getting outside by either hiking on nearby trails or hopping in my kayak and paddling around the local waterways. And in the near future, I would like to pursue more airplane ratings.
RPMN: What is your greatest career accomplishment to date?
Last year, I had the privilege to attend PIC upgrade and type-rating training for the AW139 in New Jersey at Rotorsim. During that time, I was able to complete all of the requirements to receive my ATP helicopter rating.
RPMN: Have you ever had an “Oh, crap” moment in helicopters? Can you summarize what happened?
The biggest moment that comes to mind was an encounter with inadvertent IMC. I was on a camera job as a chase aircraft for another test aircraft. The aircraft I was following was fully capable of handling IMC conditions but I was in a VFR only 407. The weather was marginal VFR with about four miles of visibility and mist/haze. There was a fog bank at the edge of the pattern limits over the water where we were working. We had made several runs in the testing pattern with no issue. On one of our passes in our pattern at about 1,000 feet, the haze had distorted our ability to judge how far away the fog bank seemed to be. Just as I was about to call out to break off from the pattern, we both went into the fog bank. I immediately started my instrument scan. Luckily being over the water and having familiarized myself with the area prior to the flights, I knew I could climb and turn freely. Making reference to the heading we were using before we went into the fog, I was able to execute a stable 180-degree turn. All the while being fully prepared to make an emergency call to the nearest tower that we were working with, I came back out of the fog bank as quickly as I went in.
RPMN: If you could give only one piece of advice to a new helicopter pilot or mechanic, what would it be?
The piece of advice that I would give is: If you don’t know—ask! There are a large number of people in our industry that are very willing to share what we have learned. The aviation industry is not a place where you can ‘fake it and make it.’ And if you try to fake it, it becomes apparent very quickly. So, don’t cut corners.
RPMN: In your view, what is the greatest challenge for the helicopter industry at this moment in time?
With the onset of the COVID pandemic, some pilots are struggling with keeping their flight currency and proficiency.These pilots have gone from flying on a daily basis to being laid off, or stopped flying because of pandemic restrictions. Some of them want to move to new areas of the helicopter industry, but are running into an issue of not having met their minimum currency requirements. Even with a pilot shortage, how are we able to combat the loss of currency/proficiency in our industry due to COVID? How can we help other professionals regain their lost currency as we slowly come out of operational restrictions? And how can we mitigate risk to help those professionals in need of regaining their standards? There won’t be a one-answer-fits-all solution, but I do think it is an issue we could help one another with. It is something that all operators and owners should discuss during interviews and recurrency training events.