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Meet a Rotorcraft Pro: Rob Ardy

Posted 5 years 342 days ago ago by Admin

RPMN: What is your current position?

I currently work full time for Lasen Inc. out of New Mexico. We primarily fly a fleet of B206 B IIIs to do airborne leak detection for buried natural gas pipelines. Lasen has numerous contracts around the country, so I am always flying in new and interesting places. It’s been a lot of fun. I also work part time for the Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office (Arizona) as a search and rescue pilot.

RPMN: Tell me about your first flight.

My first helicopter flight was with a close friend of mine, who at the time was flying for a small company out of Chino Airport in California. He knew I had some interest in flying, so he invited me along on a job he had filming a commercial for the Yamaha Corporation. We were doors-off over downtown Los Angeles with a camera guy working out of the back door. It was an absolutely amazing experience, and I knew that I needed to be flying helicopters.

RPMN: How did you get your start in helicopters?​

I have to thank Uncle Sam for my start. I did six years active duty with the Air Force and used my GI Bill to pay for flight school.

RPMN: When and how did you choose to fly helicopters, or did helicopters choose you?

I come from a family of aviators. Both my grandfathers were pilots, and my father flew in the Air Force, and then for McDonnell Douglas. My uncle is a UPS captain. So the fact that I wanted to fly was not a stretch, but the fact that I chose helicopters threw everyone in my family. It’s safe to say that after the numerous helicopter flights I had with my buddy, I had to fly helicopters. Airplanes weren’t even an option in my mind.

RPMN: Where did you get your start flying commercially?

I had the typical civilian path for flying. I graduated flight school and immediately got hired as a flight instructor for my school. My school was one of the busier schools at the time, and we did numerous commercial operations outside of student instruction. My first commercial operation, other than instruction, was flying a camera crew for an off-road rally race. It was an absolute blast and something I would love the opportunity to do again in the future.

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

I think that If I were not able to make a career out of flying, I would be in the medical field. I have a strong appreciation for the good that folks in that field do.

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

I mostly enjoy time with my family, but I also really enjoy working on cars. I just finished the restoration on my 1963 Ford Falcon hardtop. The car means a great deal to me; it was purchased new by my grandpa in 1962.

RPMN: What is your greatest career accomplishment to date?

I've been very fortunate to do a lot of really neat flying up to this point in my career. I have to say that my greatest career accomplishment is being hired by my local sheriff's office as an on-call search and rescue pilot. It gives me the opportunity to be part of something bigger than myself, do good, and give back. The feeling you get when you're allowed to help someone on their darkest day is indescribable.

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

I have had a​ few, but the most memorable happened off the coast of northern California. I was flying up the coast to a job in the Eureka area. I ran into some unforecasted high winds off the coast. At one point my indicated airspeed was 109 and my groundspeed was 29. The winds were pouring over the terrain, making it very turbulent.​ We gained and lost altitude with little control. ​It was a wild ride to say the least. While it was not ​your typical ​emergency​ situation​, it was difficult to control the aircraft. It was one of those times where you just take a deep breath and think through it.

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

I see new pilots get so discouraged so quickly in their journey to fly for a living. My piece of advice would be to not listen to the naysayers. There are going to be plenty of people who are going to tell you why you can’t do something, or they will say, “Things don’t work that way.” Ignore them. Push forward, seek wise counsel, and make good decisions based on the research you’ve done. A lot of the negativity in this industry​ comes from a small group of people. Just stay positive!

RPMN: What do you see as the greatest challenge for the helicopter industry at this moment?

I think one of the issues that plague our industry is external pressures on the pilot. I'm very fortunate to work full time for a company that doesn’t ever second-guess my PIC decisions. From my chief to the CEO, they have my back when it comes to my decision-making. If more companies in the industry treated their pilots accordingly, I think we would see a decrease in the number of annual fatalities.