• Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • Instagram
  • Youtube
Helicopter Flight Training Sponsors
May
30
2022

Meet a Rotorcraft Pro - James Baker, Rogue Aviation

Posted 25 days ago ago by Admin

RPMN: What is your current position?
I am an owner, chief pilot, and instructor at Rogue Aviation. We operate Robinson models R22 Beta II, R44 Raven II, and R66 for helicopter flight training, scenic tours, photo flights, and aerial cinematography. I also had the privilege of serving the Robinson Helicopter Company as one of their safety course instructor pilots. Like many in this industry, I wear many hats!
 
RPMN: Tell me about your first flight or experience with helicopters.
My very first memorable experience with any helicopter was watching Airwolf back in the ‘80s, but my actual first time in a helicopter was after I enrolled in flight school. I was about to sign my enrollment forms, and the staff asked, “How did you like your flight?” I said that I had never been in one before.” Surprised, they said, “Don’t you think you should probably go up to see if it’s a good fit?” I replied, “Well, I know this is what I want to do for the rest of my life, but sure that would be great!” I haven’t looked back since that day.
 
RPMN: How did you get your start in helicopters?
I enrolled in Silver State Helicopters (based out of KLGB) at the time. Fortunately, with the support of my family, I was able to rebound from that unfortunate closing that affected so many and re-enrolled with Los Angeles Helicopters (also based out of KLGB). That was a tough experience to go through at the time. I thought my dream of becoming a helicopter pilot was being pulled from under my feet. However, it fueled my passion to serve others in this industry by owning and operating a flight school and helicopter operation of my own, though I didn’t know it at the time.  
 
RPMN: When and how did you choose to fly or work on helicopters? Did they choose you?
I think they chose me. Like many in their early 20s, I couldn’t figure out what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. I started a few college degrees that didn’t speak to me and worked in many different industries: high-end retail, homeopathic pharmaceuticals, and a few years in the fitness industry. None of them captured my attention. I held leadership roles in many of my past jobs, and I’m so thankful for them. They helped me prepare for where I am today.
 
RPMN: Where did you get your start flying professionally?
I started at a flight school before working as a CFI for the next five years. Sadly, due to poor leadership, my first two jobs turned out to be a not-so-great experience. Safety, integrity, and community didn’t seem important to them. It was all about the bottom line. Sure, that’s a big part of why we all get into business, but it can’t be the one defining reason. I am grateful to have also gone through those experiences. They helped shape what I wanted to focus on as an owner and operator–the constant pursuit of the three core values we have at Rogue Aviation: safety, integrity, and community.
 
RPMN: If you were not in the helicopter industry, what else would you see yourself doing?
If I could hop in a time machine, I would have started as a mechanic before becoming a pilot. I love learning how these machines work. Outside of aviation, I think I would love to be a boat captain on a superyacht. Those ships are stunning and engineering marvels! I have yet to get on one, so if you have any connections, let me know!
 
RPMN: What do you enjoy doing on your days off?
What’s a day off? As many pilots can relate, it’s hard to say flying is work, and I still haven’t found a day that I don’t want to fly. But when I am off getting a little R&R, I like to spend time with my wife and son. (He’s four going on 14). We like taking a little electric Duffy Boat out for three-hour tours around the harbor. I also love taking my 2018 Yamaha MT-07 out for rides with some of my other pilot buddies. More recently, I’ve been getting back into mountain biking.
 
RPMN: What is your greatest career accomplishment to date?
The first is starting Rogue Aviation with my former students and friends Matt Barnes and Brian Byfield. They’re great guys who believed in me and shared the same values and vision. I would not be where I am without them. The other is being a flight instructor at Robinson. Ever since learning about the Robinson Helicopter Company safety course when I was in flight school, it was always a goal to one day become part of the team and work alongside some of the legends in our industry. I can’t believe it’s already been over four years since joining and working with such a great group of pilots; all of whom are legendary in my opinion. Special thanks to Bob Muse and Tim Tucker. They helped make this all become a reality.
 
RPMN: Have you ever had an “oh, crap” moment in helicopters? Can you summarize what happened?
 
Yeah, that's pretty much every time I step into a helicopter with a new student! Jokes aside, I have fortunately not had any that have caused serious damage or injury, but I must credit staying in the training market for so long and constantly reminding others and myself of the fundamentals of safe piloting.
 
RPMN: If you could give only one piece of advice to a new helicopter pilot or mechanic, what would it be?
 
Don’t look at your first job as an instructor as an entry-level job. Teaching may not be for everyone, but it’s what will shape the pilot that you’ll become and will open so many doors. Treat it as the most important opportunity you’ll ever have, as you’re shaping the perception of the next generation of pilots. If you don’t take it seriously, how can you expect them to?
 
RPMN: In your view, what is the greatest challenge for the helicopter industry at this moment in time?
I still consider myself very new to this industry and constantly learning what makes it tick. Our industry needs to do a better job of promoting itself and finding ways to access more financial resources to improve accessibility so we can address the pilot shortage. Salary incentives and better access to more modern technology will help small and large operators thrive.  

READ MORE MAR/APR ISSUE

READ MORE ROTORCRAFT PRO

WATCH ROTORCRAFT PRO YOUTUBE CHANNEL

You can also find us on

Instagram - https://www.instagram.com/rotorcraftpro/

Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/rotorcraftopro

Twitter - https://twitter.com/justhelicopters