Helicopters Magazine

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Countdown to 2010

October 15, 2007  By Mark McWhirter

Helicopters’ Olympic Business Watch

I  will be the first to admit that I am relatively new to this industry – my other world revolves around fixed-wing charter aviation. Despite the obvious differences between these niches of the aviation industry, there are synergies that can be carried over to rotary-wing aviation. One such synergy is the importance of personnel and their experience, but also their outlook on the future.

The value of experience is something that is often underestimated – for what reason, I’m not sure. As experience increases, so does a company’s understanding of the challenges that it will face in the future. But experience does not just exist with the company; more importantly, it exists in the people who built the company. Simply stated, experience is knowledge, and knowledge is power. Despite this being a simple concept, it is something that is often overlooked in business.

I am very fortunate that I have had the opportunity to talk with many of the people who have sculpted this very industry into the dynamic and successful one that it is today. For this reason, I consider myself lucky. The lessons that can be learned from just listening are of great significance not only in building a career, but growing yourself as a person and the company you work for.

But what do you do when the event is something new or different? Since the Olympics are so unique, there is very little precedence or experience relating to an event of such a significant scale. There are a multitude of niche markets in rotary-wing aviation that can be applied to the Olympics. Experience must be derived from an existing understanding and then applied to the 2010 Olympic Games.


The value of experience at the Olympic level can easily be seen in who the organizing committee brings on board as its members and consultants. It is proof that knowledge and experience is a valuable tool in a large-scale event. Business should be no different, whether it is day-to-day operations or specialty projects such as Vancouver 2010.

Large-scale projects are not exclusive to the Olympics – there are great examples of past infrastructure projects across Canada. One such example within the rotary-wing industry is Airborne Energy Solutions’ working partnership with UT Air and the enormous Russian Mil-24. Every time this machine takes to the sky it is a major project, whether it is moving oil rigs, the logistics of ensuring adequate supplies, or support aircraft.

In all reality, the Olympics will not create a new niche for helicopter operators. Instead, it will employ almost every unique aspect of rotary-wing aviation, whether it is policing, construction, transportation, survey, or media – just to name a few. Every operator in Canada has found success in business some way or another. The key is in transporting this success and knowledge and applying it to the Olympic Games.

It can be surprising at times how management and operational experience are not utilized to its fullest potential. Employees are hired based on their past performance, but how often is the full knowledge exploited for future benefit? To truly succeed in business and in this case, the Olympics, a forward-looking approach needs to be applied.

Many of today’s visionaries in this industry started with a dream but no experience. With time, they persevered through challenges and are now the industry’s most knowledgeable and experienced leaders. Never underestimate the power of a dream or a goal; it may just be as important as experience.


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