“I like to say that there’s a difference between 20 years of experience and one year of experience repeated 20 times.”
Coupeville, Washington, USA
Current job: Assistant chief pilot for Life Flight Network, a medical transport company in the Pacific Northwest
First aviation job: UH-60 Black Hawk pilot for the US Army
Favorite helicopter: MH-47G Chinook (military); AW139 (commercial)
How did you decide helicopter aviation was the career for you?
I knew I wanted to fly since I was in high school. After graduation, I obtained my private pilot’s license (ASEL) by working at an airport and trading my paycheck for flight time and instruction. I applied for the US Army Warrant Officer Flight Training Program, where I was introduced to the wonderful world of helicopters. Mastering these magnificent flying machines and helping others master them has been my life’s passion.
How did you get to where you are now?
I’d like to think it’s been because of hard work, learning from my mistakes, building and maintaining positive relationships, and always trying to be better today than I was yesterday.
What are your career goals?
My career goals include continuing to have fun doing what I love, serving as a chief pilot and a mentor, and continuing to teach and promote crew resource management (CRM) and safety throughout the industry in all I say and do.
What advice would you give someone pursuing your career path?
Study, practice, read, trust but verify, never stop learning, foster strong relationships and networks, keep your character and reputation clean, help others … and treat your mechanics, teammates, coworkers, customers, superiors, subordinates, and all others with respect.
Who inspires you?
One deserves special mention, Randy Mains. Randy is probably one of the premier voices for helicopter CRM and air medical resource management in the United States, and the impact he’s had on helicopter and air medical crews throughout the industry is immeasurable.
What still excites you about helicopters?
Going to work every day and flying these amazing machines. Seeing others succeed and grow professionally. Performing complicated tasks and operating well in challenging environments.
What do you think are the biggest threats to the helicopter industry?
One of the biggest threats is pressure from organizations or customers that tempt operators to compromise on safety, operating practices, or training … to keep profits high. Lack of strong CRM programs and policies, using one pilot and one engine in operations where there probably should be two of both, and using old methods to train and employ new technology and procedures are other threats.
Complete this sentence: I know I picked the right career when …
I wake up each day excited to go to work, my students become safe and effective pilots, my crew members are happy to fly with me, my customers ask for me by name … and I know I’m truly happy doing what I’m doing.