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Meet a otor

Pro Tell me about your fi rst fl ight.

When I was in my early 20s, my older sister was living in Skagway Alaska, which is one of TEMSCO helicopter’s operation bases. While I was visiting her, she arranged for me to take a ride on one of their tours that lands you up on a glacier. It was one of the most incredible experiences, which stuck with me through the years and never let go.

How did you get started in helicopters?

When I was working my fi rst desk job out of college, I used to go to lunch with my co-workers and we would have the same conversation time and again: “If you could do anything else for a job in the world, what would it be?” My answer was always the same: “I want to learn to fl y a helicopter.” So I started researching helicopter fl ight schools and found a one-man operation fl ying a Bell 47D1 at an airport near my house. I went for an introductory fl ight and was hooked.

When and how did you choose to fl y helicopters? Or did they choose you?

I think it was a combination of both. Helicopters have always been my fi rst love over fi xed-wing. While I was working on my private rating, I would fl y in the mornings before work and do ground

8 July 2015 Natalie Jones WHAT IS YOUR CURRENT POSITION?

I am currently employed with Erickson Aircrane as a command pilot fl ying the SK64 Skycrane since June of 2012.

school in the evenings after work. Only six weeks later I received my private rating on May 1, 2004. After obtaining that, I quit my desk job and moved up to Skagway, Alaska, to work as a tour attendant for TEMSCO. I really wanted to fi gure out if I could commit to the lifestyle of a pilot, as it is not for everyone. I wanted to be around newer pilots that were trying to build hours and see an actual helicopter operation fi rst hand. It wasn’t too hard to fi gure out this is exactly what I was searching for and wanted to do with my life!

Where did you get your start fl ying commercially?

After the Alaskan summer tour season was over with TEMSCO, I decided to continue my aviation endeavor at Precision Aviation located in Newberg, Oregon, fl ying a Schweizer 269C. There is where I achieved my additional ratings: fi xed-wing add- on to my helicopter private, commercial helicopter, instrument airplane and helicopter, and helicopter CFI. I continued to instruct at Precision for a couple of years to build my hours and then moved straight into the world of fl ying a heavy helicopter as second in command (SIC) in a copilot position. I quickly concluded that a heavy helicopter is where my heart belongs. Not only do I love fl ying utility in the “big iron,” I also enjoy the camaraderie that comes out of working with so many diff erent people from such diverse backgrounds. In this industry we have a bond because of our shared goals and experiences. You don’t necessarily have to be best friends

with everyone in the group to know you have their support or that you are there to support someone else.

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

I can honestly say that I hope to never have to go back to a desk job. Flying a helicopter is what I love to do. I do not see myself doing anything other than what I am doing now.

What do you enjoy doing when off ?

My husband and I are in the process of a huge home remodel, so a lot of our free time is spent doing various projects around the house. When we are done with that, our downtime consists of enjoying a movie, sipping on a glass of wine, or taking a dip in the hot tub.

What is your greatest career accomplishment to date?

I recently became Erickson’s fi rst female Skycrane captain. It is a tremendous accomplishment that I am very proud of and I hope that it helps to inspire other women to consider a career in aviation. It is still a very male-dominated industry, but more and more women are breaking barriers every day and it’s exciting to be a part of. With the combination of the right mindset, some basic skill, and an amazing support system, any girl can fl y to new heights!

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