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Meet A Rotorcraft Pro - Jeanette Eaton

Posted 9 years 305 days ago ago by Admin


RPMN: What is your current position?

I am responsible for directing and managing Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation commercial business worldwide.


RPMN: Tell me about your first flight.  

One of my customers in the Northwest had taken me for my first lesson in an R-22. I had been designing aircraft electrical wiring and systems for years, but that was the first time I was ever at the controls. It was the most frustrating experience to not be able to control the motion, but I was determined and challenged to learn the skill.


RPMN: How did you get your start in helicopters?  

I started as an engineer at Sikorsky Aircraft. During my interview I walked through a CH-53 and was overwhelmed at the size and amazed at its power. I decided then that helicopter aviation was where I wanted my career.


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

I wanted to get into marketing and sales for Sikorsky. My boss at the time said I had the technical background but needed to get my pilot license first. I started flying fixed-wing aircraft, as that was all I could afford. I worked my way through my fixed-wing ratings, and then had the opportunity to work for Bell Helicopter and attend their training academy. I jumped at the chance and transitioned to rotary.


RPMN: Where did you get your start flying commercially?  

I got started at Bell Helicopter. I received my commercial rating as a sales person with Bell and was able to fly on cross-country trips, customer deliveries, and demo tours.


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

I would definitely stay in aviation. We have one of the coolest industries, an amazing history, and an incredible legacy of pioneers who have paved the way.


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

Flying fixed-wing aircraft, golfing, or the beach. It’s even better when you combine them into one trip!


RPMN: What are your greatest accomplishments to date?  

For a career accomplishment, it’s a toss between being selected to attend Harvard Business School and being awarded the Regional Salesperson of the Year Award for being number one in sales. I believe I was able to do the latter due to my rotary ratings providing me a significant credibility boost with my customers.  For a personal accomplishment, obtaining my first rotary rating was something I always aspired to do.


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

My biggest “Oh crap” moment was flying solo fixed wing and seeing smoke in the cockpit. I circled over an emergency landing area, followed the checklist, and isolated the problem, which was an electrical short. It certainly scared me. Fortunately, I have never had an experience close to that in a helicopter.


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

Trust your instincts. Even if you are flying with a senior person, don’t assume they are always correct. Voice your opinion and concern.


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

Safety is always the priority. We have to continually work to ensure we never put ourselves in compromising situations whether in equipment selection, aircraft selection, training, crew, workloads or other areas. Next up is infrastructure. We have to continue developing and fielding new technologies to reduce noise and eliminate public misperceptions about the safety and aesthetics of our heliports.