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The Perfect Pilot Job Candidate?

Posted 4 years 115 days ago ago by Randy Rowles

A few months ago, a company advertised for a wildlife helicopter pilot to fly in support of wildlife research operations. In addition to having extensive helicopter pilot experience within the utility segment, they were equally searching for an applicant with a love for the outdoors including fishing, hunting, etc. For the right applicant, this would be a fantastic opportunity.

They found what they believed to be the perfect applicant. This individual had all the right helicopter skill sets to include game capture, long-line…you name it, this applicant had done it. The outdoor experience this applicant had was not too short of amazing as well. Not only was the applicant an avid big game hunter, these experiences had taken them all around the globe in search of unique trophy game. 

Without hesitation, the company’s program director reached out to their human resources department to get this applicant in for an interview. A week later, the applicant arrived at the flight operations building with résumé and logbook in hand. The morning schedule would provide for a tour of the company’s facility by the chief pilot, and eventually lead out to the hangar for a look at their fleet of helicopters. One by one, the applicant was able to describe in detail each aircraft in the hangar to a level that would make even a seasoned check pilot comfortable with this individual’s knowledge and experience.

After the tour, the applicant and chief pilot joined additional company staff members for the formal interview process. The conversation quickly turned toward the applicant’s experience outdoors. The group was eager to hear of the global escapades with hunting big game. The applicant proceeded to describe each animal that was hunted in such detail, it was apparent that years had been spent in the outdoors. This applicant would be quite comfortable with the conditions required of the position. Additionally, the applicant’s knowledge and experience of weaponry utilized to hunt game was as detailed as the knowledge of the aircraft described while in the hangar.

As the interview was ending, the chief pilot was providing the applicant a short briefing of the local flying area prior to their interview flight. The applicant quickly spoke up and said “I have flown around this area quite a few hours this week. I’m pretty comfortable.” This surprised the chief pilot as the applicant had just arrived earlier that day and had been working elsewhere that week. The applicant then stated, “I knocked down a few large bucks around here this week too.” This too was of great concern as hunting season hadn’t started and this statement was heard by all in the group.

Further inquiry on this issue brought forth a reality not known by those in attendance other than the applicant. Much of the hunting experience described by the applicant had been gained in the world of simulation. This applicant was an avid gamer that viewed virtual hunting and other experiences, including flight simulation, as worthy of inclusion on a résumé. 

The applicant’s belief that experience in a simulated world would be credible in the workplace is not a new idea. We do it all the time in aviation. In today’s world of digital realities, there is a belief that virtual versus dynamic experience provides little difference to the end goal. When the end goal is to live the life of an actual pilot of an aircraft, too much dependence upon virtual experience in a dynamic environment may lead to a very realistic death!    

About Randy:  Randy Rowles has been a FAA pilot examiner for 20 years for all helicopter certificates and ratings. He holds a FAA Gold Seal Flight Instructor Certificate, NAFI Master Flight Instructor designation, and was the 2013 recipient of the HAI Flight Instructor of the Year Award.  Randy is currently  Director of Training at Epic Helicopters in Ft. Worth, Texas.