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RPMN: How did you get your start in helicopters? SPRINGER: Because I was dual­rated when I came to U.S. Customs, I was one of a few, at that time, to be classified as an “aircraft” pilot, versus an airplane or helicopter pilot. The first helicopter I flew in Customs was an “H” model Huey.

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

SPRINGER: No doubt, helicopters chose me. I was 13­years­old when I first saw a helicopter up close. It was a Bell 206, owned by a coal company in West Virginia. The Bell 206 landed along the river about 300 yards from my house. I ran over and talked to the pilot. All I could think was, How cool to be able to land anywhere! I knew at that point, I wanted to fly helicopters.

RPMN: Where did you get your start fly­ ing commercially? SPRINGER: For helicopters, it was with the U. S. Customs Service. Airplanes was with a typical flight school in Rolla, Missouri

RPMN: If you were not in the helicopter industry, what else would you see your­ self doing? SPRINGER: I would definitely be in avia­ tion, probably teaching aviation courses at the university level.

RPMN: What do you enjoy doing on your days off? SPRINGER: I enjoy flying my 1976 Cessna 182, especially to visit our chil­ dren. Also, I am the president of our local airport authority. I enjoy mentor­ ing pilots and coaching them through­ out their careers. I try to use my con­ nections to help open doors for pilots.

RPMN: What is your greatest career accomplishment to date? SPRINGER: Let’s see, for a person that combined two fields (aviation and law enforcement) into one career, may I give two? For aviation, it was being the first National Aviation Safety and Training Officer for Operations at the 11

U.S. Customs Service and developing the infrastructure, of which some is still in use today. For law enforcement, I received a heroism award for rescuing two men trapped inside a burning pick­ up truck.

RPMN: Have you ever had an “Oh crap” moment in a helicopter? Can you sum­ marize what happened? SPRINGER: No, I have been very lucky in that respect. However, I have had a couple in the airplane.

RPMN: If you could give only ONE piece of advice to a new helicopter pilot, what would it be? SPRINGER: Display Integrity in every­ thing you do.

RPMN: In your view, what is the great­ est challenge for the helicopter industry at this moment in time? SPRINGER: The two greatest chal­ lenges are the high costs of training and insurance, and two: regulations.

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