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Summit Helicopter was founded in 1996 and in 2014 merged with Whiteman Airport-based Welk Aviation, an operator of news gathering and film production helicopters. Summit is an FAA-approved Part 135 air carrier and is also approved for Part 133 helicopter external load operations. It employs 20 personnel including pilots, mechanics, and ground operators. The company’s pilots are all experienced utility pilots with many hours on jobs of every sort. “We look for guys that have excellent judgment and fly smart; there is no room for hotdoggers or guys who move too quickly,” Summit founder Jim Woodaman said. “We need mature pilots that always make the right decision. That’s our priority.” Summit also provides its customers with large-capacity fuel tanker trucks, mobile field shops, and Helitender Inc. support trucks and trailers that follow the helicopters while they conduct field operations anywhere in the country.


Summit provides helicopter services to public and private power companies, construction companies, and private construction projects. Power company missions typically involve tower inspections including post-wildfire or disaster inspections, patrol of power lines, construction projects, and energized and de-energized circuit maintenance. Summit also provides pole setting by both an MD 500 or larger S-58T, adds marker balls to wires between towers, and does small or large-scale retrofits throughout the power grid.


During power-line operations, Summit pilots must work extremely close to huge towers and miles and miles of wires. They conduct close inspections, skid transfer workers, short-haul workers, pull line (wires) from tower to tower, and perform many other precise and specialized functions for customers. Probably the most routine jobs are power line patrols where Summit flies inspectors down the power line system looking for wear and tear or damage that needs repair. Summit’s inspectors have access to high-definition gyro-stabilized camera systems, infrared cameras, and standard still cameras.


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