This page contains a Flash digital edition of a book.
Meet a otor

Pro RP: What is your current position?

I’m a contract helicopter captain fl ying Army UH-1H Hueys in support of the test programs at Yuma Proving Ground in Arizona, for the Army, NASA, and other civilian companies. I am also fi xed- wing rated and have fl own piston and jet airplanes.

RP: Tell me about your fi rst fl ight.

It was my orientation fl ight at Fort Wolters, Texas, at the start of my fl ight school class in October 1966. The instructor crashed the aircraft from a hover after clipping the tail rotor on the ground. It rolled on its side and we got out hoping it didn’t catch fi re. Fortunately, it did not.

In the true fashion of a young man wanting to experience every aspect of a “crash,” I was actually happy about it because I knew they would send the crash/rescue Huey for us and I would be the fi rst in my class to get a ride in it. My buddies and I had been looking at it on the hospital pad and were in awe of all the gauges and switches compared to our training aircraft. Unfortunately, when they found we were uninjured, they declined to transport us. That would not happen in EMS today. After experiencing that crash with no injuries, I thought: If this is all there is to this, I’m good.

12 October 2015 PAUL E. USTER

RP: How did you get your start in helicopters?

I was about to get drafted for the Vietnam confl ict and saw an advertisement on TV for Army helicopter pilots, so I enlisted in the Army to attend fl ight school. This was a golden opportunity for me to fulfi ll a childhood dream to fl y, and to be somewhat in control of my role in the military.

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

I chose helicopters, as I had wanted to fl y since I was a young child. I would ride my bike to the Buff alo Airport and watch the airplanes fl y over for hours. Helicopters were another way for me to fl y and were just fi ne with me. So I signed up with the Army, which aff orded me that opportunity.

RP: Where did you get your start fl ying commercially?

When I fi nished my time with the Army, I went to work for Bell Helicopter in Fort Worth, Texas. Shortly after starting with Bell, I had the opportunity to become one of the production test pilots for the crash/ rebuild program in Amarillo, Texas. I fl ew in Amarillo for three years, before transferring to the Fort Worth facility.

I had many opportunities to travel the world training, ferrying aircraft, and

doing demonstration fl ights for the sales department. I also had a rare chance to instruct the Royal Thai Navy pilots in Thailand when they installed fi xed fl oats on their UH-1Ns.

I fl ew as a production pilot for nine years and as an experimental pilot for one year. Some of my fl ying in the experimental arena was touring U.S. military bases to demonstrate the newly developed four-blade rotor systems that had been manufactured by Bell. I was also the liaison pilot for Bell during the certifi cation of the 222 and earned a type certifi cate in the 222, even though it is not required.

I had wanted to live in Phoenix, Arizona, for many years and when an opportunity to become a corporate pilot presented itself, I moved and experienced that aspect of fl ying. That move was a life changing experience because I met my wife of 33 years.

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

I have an associate degree in real estate that I earned while working at Bell, so I probably would have gone into real estate.

RP: What do you enjoy doing on your days off ?

I bowl on three leagues, watch NASCAR,

Page 1  |  Page 2  |  Page 3  |  Page 4  |  Page 5  |  Page 6  |  Page 7  |  Page 8  |  Page 9  |  Page 10  |  Page 11  |  Page 12  |  Page 13  |  Page 14  |  Page 15  |  Page 16  |  Page 17  |  Page 18  |  Page 19  |  Page 20  |  Page 21  |  Page 22  |  Page 23  |  Page 24  |  Page 25  |  Page 26  |  Page 27  |  Page 28  |  Page 29  |  Page 30  |  Page 31  |  Page 32  |  Page 33  |  Page 34  |  Page 35  |  Page 36  |  Page 37  |  Page 38  |  Page 39  |  Page 40  |  Page 41  |  Page 42  |  Page 43  |  Page 44  |  Page 45  |  Page 46  |  Page 47  |  Page 48  |  Page 49  |  Page 50  |  Page 51  |  Page 52  |  Page 53  |  Page 54  |  Page 55  |  Page 56