Meet a otor

Pro RPMN: What is your current position?

From the moment I started learning about becoming a helicopter pilot, I was not 100% certain, but I saw myself doing something that would help people; air ambulance was on that list. I consider myself both lucky and grateful to have achieved that goal. Today I’m a line pilot flying an H135P2+ for Air Methods Corporation in the eastern U.S. Additionally, I’m an account executive for Rotorcraft Pro Media Network helping helicopter businesses promote their services to the industry.

RPMN: Tell me about your first flight.

My first flight was way back in 1988. My eyes had always jumped skyward whenever I saw a helicopter cruise by. I grew up directly under the flight path of runway 1R at Washington Dulles International Airport and regularly saw Concordes arriving and departing, which was awesome, but there was always something about helicopters like that of the Fairfax County Police Department that blew me away. My Dad was in the Army, and in the mid-to-late ‘80s there were a number of movies released about Vietnam: Platoon, Full Metal Jacket, Hamburger Hill, Missing in Action, and so on. Naturally they featured Hueys, etc., and they just captured my imagination. I used to beg my dad to take me up on a helicopter, and I thought maybe this was a possibility. Well to my surprise, for my 13th birthday he took me to Reagan National Airport and I took a 10-minute tour over D.C. in a Bell 206. To say that this was one of the most impactful moments in my life is the understatement of the millennium.

12 Jan/Feb 2020

RPMN: How did you get your start in helicopters?

In 2010, I was sitting at my desk with a “Case of the Mondays” wondering why I would do something every day of which I had grown so weary. After 10 really successful years in advertising sales, I had lost the passion for it somewhere along the way. So I started looking for new hobbies and a more constructive way to spend my time on the weekends, instead of bouncing around bars with my buddies. I found a flight school not far from where I grew up and scheduled a demo flight. I knew from the moment we lifted that this was something I was extremely interested in pursuing, so I bucked up for the private pilot package. After being a weekend warrior for a couple of months, I just knew that this was something I wanted to do for the rest of my life. So just like that I quit my job, sold my house, represented myself as the listing agent so I could keep that 3% commission to myself, and used the money I made off of that sale to pay for flight training and jumped in full time. It was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

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

It was never even a question. Airplanes just never interested me. It was helicopters all the way. It didn’t take long for me to get bit by the aviation bug, either. I would say I was around 12-15 hours total time when I’d decided that I needed to make flying helicopters a career and not just a hobby. That’s when I began researching the career path, hitting the forums, setting appointments with pilots working in the industry to pick their brains and ask for

Brad Shubargo

advice (one guy told me not to do it!), and figuring out a way to pay for this crazy dream of mine. So I guess you could say that helicopters chose me, kidnapped me, and have possessed me ever since.

RPMN: Where did you get your start flying commercially?

After becoming a CFI and working for American Helicopters in Northern Virginia, I was lucky enough to get my first job, outside of flight training, flying in New York with Liberty Helicopters and later Helicopter Flight Services. Flying in a fast-paced, complex, congested area with constant sports, presidential and United Nations temporary flight restrictions and very fickle weather teaches you so much about real-world flying that you just don’t get from the training environment. You grow up fast, that’s for sure.

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

I would probably be doing what I was doing originally. Doing what most of us do. Doing a job just to earn a paycheck. Chasing dollars. Instead, I’m now one of the fortunate and few individuals who can honestly say that I love what I do.

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

Working my dream job at Rotorcraft Pro! It’s nice to get back to my roots so to speak, since after all, that was the career that afforded me the opportunity to pay for flight training. I enjoy fostering relationships new and old, and you meet some really great folks this way.

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