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


Yes! We were called to search for a burglary suspect that had fled the scene on foot. It was 2:00 a.m. and our fourth call for our shift. As we were arriving on scene, 500 feet AGL and 90 knots, I reached down to switch radio channels when all of a sudden I heard an explosion. I immediately found myself slumped over towards the center of the cockpit, barely capable of moving. I remember feeling an intense amount of wind flowing through the cockpit and hearing the other pilot state, “something has locked the controls of the helicopter, and we’re going down.” I saw on the FLIR video screen that we were in a right hand turn heading towards the ground. With large and small pieces of Plexiglas and unknown liquid covering my body I realized we must have just taken a bird strike. It was then I forced myself to sit up in the seat and the pilot stated, “I have control.”


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


The drone industry. Some are embracing it while others fear it, believing that they will reduce the amount of flying jobs or opportunities. I say, embrace it with open arms. All


industries evolve over time;


it’s inevitable. There is no doubt that certain jobs can be accomplished more efficiently and cheaper using a drone. Who is better suited to operate that drone than a professional helicopter pilot who has the prior flight experience to know exactly what the job needs to accomplish the customer’s goals? That perception


alone is a great marketing tool and places you above your novice competitors. Successful business models must adapt to market demands and technology. Adding this service to your listed professional services will make you a competitor in a rapidly growing new industry, and you’ll earn additional revenue.


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


We pulled out of that dive at about 100 feet AGL. It was me that was causing our descent by lying on the collective! Not knowing the extent of the damage we agreed that since we were still flying that we would try to make it back to the airport, which gave us access to emergency crews and plenty of runway to get the aircraft on the ground. It was the longest five minutes of my life. We were able to land without incident, and the evidence showed that we had hit a moorhen. Half came into the cockpit and the other half went through the rotor system. If it was not for my helmet I would not have survived a direct hit to my head. I learned a valuable lesson that night about the benefits of effective crew resource management.


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


If you treat every flight like it was a checkride, barring a catastrophic event, chances are greater that you will have a long, prosperous career while earning a stellar reputation for professionalism.


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