Dwaine Parker RPMN: What is your current position?

I am currently a law enforcement helicopter pilot in South Florida and the owner of a contract helicopter pilot services company.

RPMN: Tell me about your first flight.

My dad had arranged a helicopter flight with a company operating out of the Tampa International Airport for my 18th birthday. This company would fly around to all of the large banks in the Tampa Bay area and pick up the bank notes and other paper transactions. Since there was no internet in those days, the quickest way to get the goods to the airport for an overnight flight was by helicopter. The pilot would hover over the roof of the bank and the guy in the back, known as the “hooker,” would use a long pole to snatch the bag off the top of a flagpole. My fate with helicopters was sealed at the conclusion of that flight.

RPMN: How did you get your start in helicopters?

After obtaining my commercial rotorcraft rating my instructor purchased a Bell 47G2. Somehow I convinced him that it would be the smartest thing he ever did to allow me to conduct photo flights, birthday flights, and aerial tours around the Tampa Bay area. After all, he knew the quality of my training and to not let me fly would call into question that quality!

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

I attempted to enter the Army as a helicopter pilot but in the early 1980s you could not enter flight school if you wore glasses to correct your vision. The Army NVG program consisted of Army pilots having to wear full-face goggles; eyeglasses would prohibit their use. So after two enlistments, I had saved enough money to start my flight training as a civilian. It was a much longer path (10 years) and cost me $100,000 but I finally achieved all of my ratings and flight time to be employable.

RPMN: Where did you get your start flying commercially?

In Tampa flying that Bell 47G2. I was working as a deputy sheriff in Tampa and knew that I wanted to be a law enforcement helicopter pilot. Flying that Bell 47 provided me with enough flight hours that I finally met the minimum qualifications for the agency I am with now. That was 17

10 Nov/Dec 2017

years ago. How time flies when you love what you do.

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

I would be an entrepreneur and lawyer. I love working in an environment that is always changing and challenging. I feel like I do my best work when I am under pressure or the task at hand is very difficult. I also like communicating with people and solving problems so my passion would have been satisfied with those areas of interest as well.

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

Cigars! Nothing beats enjoying a great cigar. Combined with any interest or event makes it that much better.

RPMN: What is your greatest career accomplishment to date?

The ability to give back. I have been blessed over the years to receive some really great training and fortunate to have worked in many different roles that make the helicopter an incredible machine. That experience allows me to pass on valuable information while working as a CFI or as a member of the FAASTeam (FAA Safety Team). I had some really good mentors when I started out flying and their decades of experience etched an important mindset at the beginning of my training. It’s an honor to have that opportunity now in this stage of my career.

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