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PD’s old facility. It was pitch black with no moon. The airport had also just resurfaced the taxiway with black asphalt top, which I didn’t know. The yellow centerline hadn’t been painted yet. Now, that’s a big deal! I lost depth perception for that last few feet. Here I was coming down at 1,800 feet per minute in my beautiful shiny Bell 206B III with executive interior and leather seats. Even with the landing light on, it was still a blurry black pond to me at the last moment. Oh, crap! Do I pull the collective to cushion now or do I wait a half second? That was the $750,000 question. I leveled it like I do with the MD 500 and slid onto the taxiway to a stop. Airport ops did not know it was me who made those mysterious parallel straight-line skid marks on their new blacktop.


RPMN: If you could give only one piece of advice to a new helicopter pilot, what would it be?


You made a good choice — stick with it if you do not want to be the airline jock who wakes up at different hours to ask, “What city am I in?” If that’s not what you want, then you better stay in helicopters. With helicopter jobs, you can be there for your family, sleep in your own bed, be a normal person instead of being away half the time from your home and your neighborhood. I could have gone with Boeing to Mesa, Arizona. I could have come home on Fridays and gone to work on Sunday nights from Carlsbad until I retired. Nope! I did not want to be a half-daddy.


RPMN: In your view, what is the greatest challenge for the helicopter industry at this moment in time?


We all have been hearing about the coming pilot shortage for years. Well, it is certainly here for the fixed-wing side right now. However, as a trainer and flight school operator, I don’t see the lineup or even any normal load we saw back 10 years ago. That means there will be very few experienced helicopter pilots for the industry very soon, if not already. The potential for more accidents when our industry is forced to take on less experienced pilots concerns me.


Do you know someone who would be a good subject for Meet a Rotorcraft Pro? Email your suggestion to the editor-in-chief:


lyn.burks@rotorcraftpro.com rotorcraftpro.com 13


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