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Dan Crowe RPMN: What is your current position?


I am the owner and president of two companies: Aircoastal Helicopters, a Part 135 operation founded in 1981 and Palm Beach Helicopters, a Part 141 flight school founded in 2001. Both are located at KLNA airport in Palm Beach County, Florida.


RPMN: Tell me about your first flight.


It was a J3 Cub. I was eight or nine years old and my dad took me out to a grass airstrip where plane rides were sold. After the pilot put me in the seat he started untying the airplane and when he got to the rear of the plane he lifted up the tail and started shaking it, acting like the plane was going to take off. It wasn’t even running yet, but I grabbed the stick and yelled, “Let her go!”


RPMN: How did you get your start in helicopters?


I was a career law enforcement officer but I already had an interest in aviation, having soloed in an airplane at 16 and then getting my private certificate. I started with Alachua County Sheriff’s Department in North Florida, but in 1979 I had the opportunity to move to Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Department in South Florida, which had an established aviation unit. After about a year on the road, I was able to transfer into the aviation unit where I received my helicopter training.


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


A friend had preceded me in moving to Palm Beach County and was flying in the aviation unit. He invited me down for a visit. I got a ride in the back of their Bell


12 Nov/Dec 2018


206 and at one point they put it into an out-of-ground-effect hover at 500 feet. Being an airplane pilot I grabbed my seat for the inevitable stall. When it didn’t stall, I was hooked.


RPMN: Where did you get your start flying commercially?


We worked 24 hour shifts with 48 hours off in law enforcement. All of the pilots got part- time flying on their days off. As a group we thought we should start our own business, but for various reasons the group didn’t stay together. I built on the idea and ran with it to start my own Part 135 operation and employ the other off-duty pilots.


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


It would have been fun to have been a professional race car driver. Although when I was in school everyone thought I would be a lawyer. I get to practice that in a way, with having to understand all of the FAA regulations.


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


I have been driving race cars as a hobby since I was 17; I enjoy going to NASCAR races and spending time with my daughter, son-in-law, and new grandson. Lately, I have enjoyed refurbishing a 130-year-old family piano to pass along to my daughter.


RPMN: What is your greatest career accomplishment to date?


Well, surviving in this business for 37 years comes to mind. But I would say all of the people out there in the industry


who have passed through my doors when they were just starting out who now have accomplished a lot in their own careers. Hopefully, I played a positive role in training and furthering their careers in this industry.


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