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Meet a Rotorcraft Pro – Henrik Bjorklund

Posted 8 years 160 days ago ago by Admin

Meet a Rotorcraft Pro – Henrik Bjorklund

RPMN: What is your current position?
I’m a saw pilot at Rotor Blade.

RPMN: What does Rotor Blade do?
We perform aerial sidewall trimming of utility line rights-of-way.  This is done with a ten-bladed saw that’s suspended below the aircraft.

RPMN: Tell me about your first flight.
It was my very first flight lesson at Bristow Academy in Florida.  I absolutely loved how the helicopter maneuvered through the air and the sensation of hovering; hanging motionless in the air was absolutely fantastic.  I had never been in a helicopter before I left Sweden and came to Bristow Academy, not even on the ground.  So, when my instructor asked if I wanted to do an autorotation I simply said, “Yeah, sure,” and was wondering what he was talking about.  I was in for a surprise.

RPMN: How did you get your start in helicopters?
Upon completing my military service, I started working as a sales person.  After several years, my position was moved to England.  That left me with a year’s advanced pay in my pocket and time to figure out what to do next, which was great because I had already come to the conclusion that I was not happy in life doing what I did.  One day I told myself, “Henrik, you have always been fascinated with helicopters; let's look into it.”  I could not afford a helicopter education, and the military path was not an option due to re-organization.  But, I told myself that I had nothing to lose and decided to see how far I could go.  Before I knew it I was on a plane heading to Florida.

RPMN: When and how did you choose to fly helicopters? Or did they choose you?
I think they chose me.  As a kid I always ran outside when I heard a helicopter passing over the farm.  I was fascinated how they could hover and land almost anywhere.  I guess you could say it was a marriage made as a child and consummated later in life.

RPMN: Where did you get your start flying commercially?
My first job was at a flight school in North Carolina.  I became the chief instructor, and also got to fly an MD 500C for real estate, news, and other jobs.
I even got to do a few landings on an aircraft carrier.  Now that was fun!

RPMN: If you were not in the helicopter industry, what else would you see yourself doing?
It's actually a bit hard to imagine doing anything else right now; I so love what I do. I do like house design, so maybe I would have gotten into architecture.

RPMN: What do you enjoy doing on your days off?
I like to travel and see new places.  I recently traveled to Death Valley and the Grand Canyon.  I hope to have time to get my SCUBA license after the New Year.

RPMN: What is your greatest career accomplishment to date?
Taking the risk and making the effort that landed me where I am today.  It took a lot of hard work and it was not always that easy.  I not only wanted to fly helicopters, I wanted to get into utility and sling loading.  I now work with challenging sling loads every day.  I feel really lucky.

RPMN: Have you ever had an “Oh crap” moment in a helicopter? Can you summarize what happened?
Yes, I’ve had a few “moments”: warning lights … settling with power … a colleague who pretty much crashed us on a mountain peak… and I almost had a mid-air collision.  Once I was approaching an uncontrolled airport with the sun in my eyes.  I made several radio calls, but received no answer.  I entered the downwind leg to land when a fixed-wing came right out of the sun.  The Cessna passed right over me; he was so close I could see the tire treads and the face of the pilot clearly!  I dove the bird and pushed her out of trim to get what descent I could.  The plane proceeded with its downwind approach. I had a good talk to the pilot after he landed.  It turned out he had two radios, both on a whole other frequency.

RPMN: If you could give only ONE piece of advice to a new helicopter pilot, what would it be?
Recognize your personal limitations, and don't stray too far from them.  Always leave yourself with a way out.

RPMN: In your view, what is the greatest challenge for the helicopter industry at this moment in time?
As a whole in the industry, I see some of the same challenges as GA (general aviation) is facing at this time.  The U.S. has always had a strong presence in aviation; we need to keep that presence as a whole, not just in key roles.  Also the industry, and equipment within the industry, is changing.  As we move forward with new technology we need to also retain the knowledge of people.  We need to let experience flow down from experienced pilot to the ones that come out fresh on the market.  This way, we can keep producing highly skilled and professional pilots.  Finally, remember we are in helicopters; if we run into problems we mostly can find a place to land.  There’s no need to push it.