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


I have had a few incidents in the helicopter that are significant as learning experiences but not necessarily noteworthy otherwise. My biggest “Oh, crap” moment was actually flying instruments in a Cessna 182 heading north from Redding over the Siskiyou Mountains. The cloud tops were higher than forecasted and visible moisture and freezing temperatures surrounded us. By the time we climbed up through the clouds there was so much ice buildup on the aircraft that it was almost impossible to maintain altitude with maximum power without settling back into the cloud layer below us and accumulating more ice. Luckily, a hole in the clouds opened up and we were able to safely divert to the nearest airport and land without incident. Ever since then I am extremely aware of conditions conducive to icing and I try to avoid any similar situation from arising again. Lesson learned: It is perfectly


acceptable to say “no go” when conditions are beyond your limitations.


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


My journey has had many challenges, but also many rewards. I found when one door closed another would open and that anything is possible if you are truly willing to commit yourself and put in the work to make your dreams a reality. This isn’t only true in aviation but every aspect of life. My one piece of advice is to have a goal, stay focused, embrace the positive experiences, and learn from the negative ones.


WHAT IS CURRENTLY THE GREATEST CHALLENGE FOR THE HELICOPTER INDUSTRY?


I think the greatest challenge is the burden of more new rules and regulations that are imposed upon operators when trying to get a job done. Simply by choosing a


career that is inherently dangerous, it is implied that we are already accepting the responsibility that comes along with the dangers of this industry. The safety of each flight is always a primary concern for myself and the network of people I work with. By establishing more rules and regulations to try to make a job seem less dangerous, it almost makes helicopter jobs impossible to complete sometimes. Utility helicopter operations started from a spirit of pioneering and we should be allowed to continue forward with that same daring character in order to invent new ways in which to utilize such amazing machines. Yes, what we do is dangerous, but safety guides us in each and every one of our flights. We should be allowed to accept that risk through our employment and continue to strive forward, unimpeded by so many regulations.


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