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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


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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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