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Posted 8 years 0 days ago ago by Admin


RPMN: What is your current position?

I am the base manager and assistant chief instructor at Mauna Loa Helicopters in Honolulu, Hawaii. Mauna Loa Helicopters is a Part 141 flight school with bases on Oahu, the Big Island, and Kauai. I am responsible for stage checks, student instruction, instructor training, Part 141 compliance, coordinating maintenance and all the lovely paperwork that keeps the Honolulu base running.

RPMN: Tell me about your first flight.

It was in a Lama in Switzerland. We climbed up to a high altitude, and then I promptly jumped out! (It was a tandem skydive.) I enjoyed the jump but I was truly wowed by the helicopter climbing through the Alps. I was in awe but also so excited. I had yammered so much about it my husband, some friends, and I went up again the next day on a tour.

My first flight on the controls was an Intro, flying to New York City. I’m not sure which was more dumbfounding: the fact that I was flying in a helicopter up the Hudson River or that  I was flying  a helicopter up the Hudson River.

RPMN: How did you get your start in helicopters?

I did my private and commercial ratings at a small Part 61 school in Linden, New Jersey, near New York City. It was a wonderful and very educational experience.  Since the Northeast was my introduction to the aviation industry, I had no idea how unique it was. When I moved to Louisiana to continue my training, on my first cross country flight I honestly thought there was something wrong with the radio because it was too quiet.

RPMN: When and how did you choose to fly helicopters? Or did they choose you?

I was hooked from the first flight, so I guess they chose me. I had always been fascinated by helicopters but never really thought about how one becomes a helicopter pilot. Shortly after we moved to New York I decided to pursue a career as a helicopter pilot.

RPMN: Where did you get your start flying commercially?

I moved my family to Hawaii to complete my training as I knew I wanted to work for Mauna Loa Helicopters, and I was fortunate that they picked me up as an instructor. I worked in Kona on the Big Island for two years before moving to my current role at the Honolulu base.  

RPMN: If you were not in the helicopter industry, what else would you see yourself doing?

I would be teaching. I love introducing new things to people and to see them learn and grow. I really enjoy seeing that “light bulb” moment. I used to teach English but if I wasn’t flying, I would like to teach science, or anything outdoors.

RPMN: What do you enjoy doing on your days off?

Not being on a schedule that revolves around two hour blocks! I enjoy going to the beach and hiking with my family, and the occasional paddle board with my son. If I had a day without the family, it would be spent climbing or mountain biking.

RPMN: What is your greatest career accomplishment to date?

Seeing students go from wide-eyed intro flight to solo, on to their first rating and then becoming professional pilots.

I don’t know if it’s an accomplishment but one of the highlights of my career has been ferrying a Sikorsky S76 C++ from Vancouver, Canada to Trinidad. I was originally asked to accompany the pilot from the MRO in Vancouver to Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The new owners would then fly the aircraft from Florida to Trinidad. When we got to Florida, I was asked to continue with the aircraft to Trinidad.  Flying from one end of the country to the other was wonderful and then getting to fly along the entire Caribbean chain, was just icing on the cake.

RPMN: Have you ever had an “Oh crap” moment in a helicopter? Can you summarize what happened?

A few minor things, some aircraft related, some student-induced and some self-induced. They were all learning experiences. A few of them were great teaching experiences.

RPMN: If you could give only ONE piece of advice to a new helicopter pilot, what would it be?

A wonderful piece of advice that was given to me is that “time takes time.” Don’t be in too much of a rush to get to the next step. Focus on the task at hand and do that job well first. Enjoy the journey.  It can be frustrating at times but keep reminding yourself you are living the dream!

RPMN: In your view, what is the greatest challenge for the helicopter industry at this moment in time?

It may not be the biggest challenge, but one I think we constantly struggle with is the way the general public perceives us. We are not the enemy. Helicopters are not the noise producing death traps everyone thinks they are. It starts with us, flying neighborly and educating the public positively. It would also be nice to see mainstream media highlighting how helicopters can have a positive impact on society by saving lives, putting out fires, adding joy and amazement to vacations and providing employment, just to mention a few.