Helicopters Magazine

Features Procedures Safety & Training
Rough Road of a Rotor Rookie

At the end of my last article, I left you as I was driving westward along the north shore of Lake Superior on my cross-country journey looking for work as a helicopter pilot.


July 18, 2007
By Leanne Schmidt

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At the end of my last article, I left you as I was driving westward
along the north shore of Lake Superior on my cross-country journey
looking for work as a helicopter pilot. After being delayed by an
October snowstorm, I made my way into Manitoba and I managed to speak
with several companies in Winnipeg and later through the southern part
of Saskatchewan. I was really impressed by the diverse ways that
helicopter operators work. Companies like Custom Helicopters at St.
Andrews, near Winnipeg, said that they do everything from wildlife
counts to corporate transportation and have a fleet spread out all over
the province. That’s a big contrast to operations that are basically
one guy with a helicopter who is trying to make a living off it.

But
I got the same response from everyone: “Thanks for stopping by. We’ll
keep your resumé on file. Drive safely.” This is what I heard most of
the way across the country and sometimes I got the feeling that though
they were very nice to me, I was just another low-hour pilot knocking
on their door. I have no idea how many of us there are out there, but
there must be quite a few. It became discouraging because every time I
got out of the car I got my hopes up and wondered what it would be like
to work there. Rejection is rough, but I tried to keep positive and
hope that the best lay ahead of me. People seemed encouraging and
positive toward me, so it wasn’t too bad.

I only had one
encounter on the whole trip that was downright ‘not nice’. The guy was
pretty gruff and the nicest thing he said was: “You got your helicopter
licence, eh? Why’d you do a dumb thing like that?” After calling it an
early day and leaving with sunken spirits, I realized that I probably
didn’t want to work beside someone like that anyway. I don’t know
whether I caught him on a bad day or that was his normal way of
interacting with people, but I was glad to leave the place. I checked
the company off my list and drove away without looking back.

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