chin TU RPMN: What is your current position?

I am the president and chief instructor of Civic Helicopters Inc. Of all the helicopter business models I could have ventured into, I chose the flight training model. I have been instructing helicopter and fixed- wing since 1974, and I’ve focused on helicopter flight training since 1987. I have accumulated over 32,000 flight hours; 26,000 of them were in all different makes and models of helicopters flown with pilots from all over the world.

RPMN: Tell me about your first flight.

My first flight, well, I started very young. I was no more than 4 or 5 years old. Yes, I do remember that flight! It was a very short flight and I was alone in a completely dark, enclosed cockpit with all those fancy blue lights and whirling gauge sounds — it was a military airplane instrument trainer sitting on an articulating flexible base, circa 1953. It was a short flight because my pants were wet and cold. I am still not sure if it was a punishment or “follow Dad to work day.”

RPMN: How did you get your start in helicopters?

In 1970 I joined U.S. Army Aviation for a 5-year commitment. I wanted to fly fixed- wing since I was already a plane pilot. The recruiter made no guarantees, but I put it on my dream sheet. A few months later, I was sitting in a classroom looking at helicopter manuals and models. There was not any protest from me in those days. “On the ground, give me 20 trainee!” The helicopter it was!

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

Uncle Sam pretty much decided my fate in aviation. In retrospect, I believe it was written in the book for my own good by the Almighty.

RPMN: Where did you get your start flying commercially?

Coming back from Vietnam, I just caught the tail end of the mandatory force reduction ordered by President Nixon. “A dime a dozen,” I heard on the street. Not doughnut holes, but helicopter pilots were a dime a dozen! I joined Hughes Helicopters in Culver City, California. I could only get a manufacturing operations administration position. It took me seven years before I was able to transfer to the company flight department — for a pay cut! Hey, it was a flight position that offered production flight tests for the H269, H369, King Air C90, B200, F-27 Fairchild. The jackpot was the experimental YAH-64 Apache and the chase UH-1H Huey.

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

I guess as a pilot, there is this natural yearning for redundancy in everything. I started to invest in real estate early in my life. I went from single houses to duplex houses to a six-unit apartment building, and to 23-unit apartment buildings. Finally, I got tired of phone calls that someone’s toilet was backed up in the middle of the night. I sold them all and transitioned into real estate investment trusts (REITs).

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

There are 8,000 square feet of hangar to be organized and cleaned, 11 helicopters to be waxed, landscape to be watered and trimmed – just kidding! I like fly fishing and target shooting; it’s a backup plan for food and protection.

RPMN: What is your greatest career accomplishment to date?

Lots of pilots made great achievements, no doubt about it. However, I can say this proudly for myself: In all the 26,000 flight training hours I’ve given (including touchdown autos settling with power at short final, tail-rotor failures in all three categories, and LTE at hover in slow flight), I have not injured or caused injury to any of my pilots in flight training. A few times I have let the pilot in training go a little too far to recover from, but I paid the price out of my own pocket. It was a good motivator to change my behavior.

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

Years ago, before NVGs filtered into the law enforcement and EMS markets, I was giving night touchdown autorotations training to the San Diego Police Department at Montgomery Field (MYF). Typically, I teach all touchdown autorotations without sliding, especially for law enforcement and powerline patrol pilots. On this particular training event, I didn’t have a Farmer’s Almanac to tell me what kind of moon I would have that night. I thought that was not a big deal. I arrived after 8 p.m. at the

12 July/Aug 2019

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