Helicopters Magazine

Features Procedures Safety & Training
Rough Road of a Rotor Rookie

I am hesitant in writing about this job. It didn’t go too well, but I gained some valuable experience and I won’t let history repeat itself.


July 18, 2007
By Leanne Schmidt

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My cross-Canada road trip was finally finished and it had not been as
fruitful as I had hoped. I did, however, end up working – even though
it wasn’t as a result of my journey.

I
am hesitant in writing about this job. It didn’t go too well, but I
gained some valuable experience and I won’t let history repeat itself.
I made some mistakes along the way and I hope other pilots in my
position can learn from them.

This job ended up being the
product of networking with one of my instructors.He told me that there
was a guy with a helicopter who needed some people to help as ground
crew for fairs and events. It sounded like the perfect opportunity to
get started and I eagerly pursued it.

I really wanted to do a
good job so that I could get my foot in the door and strive toward
full-time work in the industry. I painted signs advertising the rides
and called all over trying to get us into events. I became friends with
the pilot and his family. On a few occasions I even got a little
copilot time! It was unexpected and very much appreciated. When the
machine needed to be ferried, he would put the duals in and let me come
along to get the hours. It wasn’t a lot of time, but I was very
grateful for this addition to my log book.

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In the spring, the
pilot asked me to go along on forest fires as ground crew and copilot
during the summer months. This was fabulous! He said he would give me
$100 a day, my PPC and 100 hours over the summer. My first mistake was
not getting this in writing. I went and took the S100 firefighting
course so that I would know more about the situation I was getting into.

I
embarked on a 40-hour drive to a remote area I had never even heard of
and awaited the arrival of my boss and the helicopter. This was to be a
huge learning experience for me. I knew that I had to put in my time on
the ground with any company to prove I was worthy of flying an aircraft.

When
the machine needed routine maintenance halfway through the summer I was
sent to pick up the AME from the airport. The airport was about seven
hours away. After working an eighthour day, I drove seven hours to get
this guy and was told to immediately bring him back to the machine. I
reluctantly agreed to do it, swallowed some coffee, and thought that
this will all pay off eventually. I didn’t feel as optimistic at 4:00
am dodging wildlife on the highway.


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