Helicopter deployments are expected to reach the 200s by 2018. Rotorcraft often do fit the bill better than fixed-wing aircraft because crews will fill up closer to fires with more precision drops of retardants and water. Manufacturing continues to design and test upgrades to existing equipment that reduce lift times and drop. In 2017, 9.5 wildfires destroyed an unprecedented 1.27 million acres in California. L.A. County crews fought them with Firehawk in day and night operations. Helicopters and Honeywell offer air firefighting aircraft airfare improvements with operational firefighting vehicles.
Helicopters to the Rescue
Getting a pilot’s license with the intent of learning to fly a helicopter is a very ambitious goal. But of all of the aircraft, the helicopter is probably one of the most versatile and useful kinds of flying in society. However, it might be obvious that it is more complicated to fly a helicopter than a conventional private airplane. So the training is more extensive, difficult and expensive as well. But adding the helicopter to the list of your piloting skills on your resume will make you tremendously marketable in a field that is always in need of well-trained pilots.
You don’t have to look far to find ways that helicopter pilots are getting great jobs in all segments of society. Every local news team has at least one if not several traffic or weather helicopters to help report the news. Every day these pilots whisk a news team off to the heart of a fast-breaking story, often a story that is filmed directly from the cockpit of their helicopter.
The need for helicopters to assist law enforcement is easy to witness by just watching any cop or detective show on television or in the movies. But the way the pilot of the helicopter becomes a big part of many police situations is not overstated. For law enforcement, the need to get right to the heart of a crime situation is nothing short of critical. Time makes a big difference when it comes to solving a crime or stopping a dangerous situation from spiraling out of control. So many times it is the helicopter pilot who can take a team of highly skilled police or FBI officers right into the middle of a trouble situation with pinpoint accuracy. And when those heroes of the police department can save a life because you got them there fast, there is no way to estimate how great you will feel about your role in that important job.
Helicopter pilots can find great employment giving rides around the city during the holidays, flying busy executives to high stakes business meetings from the top of skyscrapers, whisking rock stars away from overly adoring fans, or working for hospitals getting remote patients to medical care quickly and saving lives in the process. This means that the chances are your life as a helicopter pilot will be exciting, fast-paced, and always doing something urgent taking you to the most interesting of places.
But of the many ways that helicopter pilots find great jobs helping others in society, rescue missions may be the most meaningful. During the hurricane Katrina disaster, it was a common thing to see helicopter pilots going in and plucking people off of rooftops to take them to safety and to be reunited with their grateful families. In forest fire situations, helicopters are what are used to dump water or chemicals on the fire to try and stop the burning. And it is the helicopter that is used to get in the middle of danger and get people out or to get the injured to medical professionals quickly and save lives. Your skills in handling that complicated aircraft will never seem more crucial than when you are using them to benefit your fellow man in trouble.
You should know the demands that will be put on you when you start on your course to learn to fly a helicopter and get a pilot’s license that says you can be counted on to handle this important vehicle with skill. Unlike a conventional airplane, the helicopter and maneuver straight up and side to side with phenomenal flexibility. It can hover over a location virtually in one place and be landed with nothing more needed than a small plot of ground to place it down on rather than a long landing field. The skill to be able to actually do these maneuvers with this precision flying machine take time and money to gain.
You will work very hard in pilot school for helicopter pilots. And this specialization of pilot training is anywhere from 5-10 times more expensive than conventional pilots training. But if you can get the training under your belt and the experience to show you can handle a copter like a pro, the employment opportunities are abundant and the money is good for you to have an exciting and diversified career flying helicopters as your job and your passion.
ADAC H145 pilot prepares to take off on a rescue mission.
A pilot of the Air Disaster and Emergency Assistance Coordination Centre (ADAC) prepares to take off for a rescue mission from ADAC Heli-Flying Service On Friday, March 7, 2014.
If you work long enough, sooner or later, you’re in charge of a mission.
When I joined DSO (the UK’s Disasters Service Organisation), I had one rescue helicopter and around 30 highly trained volunteers. I was in charge of that mission. Our first job was to search a 4,000 square mile area for 25 missing construction workers. We didn’t find them all, but we did find 15, and within 3 months we had found all 25.
Today DSO has 40 helicopters and 1,500 volunteers, so the mission has doubled in size. But the job is still the same.
Occasionally I get calls from people who’ve had an accident. Rescue is the last course of action, and you must be ready to act at any time. You never know when the next accident will happen. It can happen next week, next month, or next year.
You learn to accept these risks. But it is still hard. People call because they’re afraid. They don’t want to die, they just want to find a way out.
And it’s not easy. Rescues are never straightforward. Some people, for example, are injured so badly they can’t be saved, and we have to wait for rescue helicopters to come. Others aren’t injured but are stuck for one reason or another. Sometimes they have to be carried back. And sometimes, sadly, we have to tell families that their loved one has died.
A mountain rescuer takes Airbus behind the scenes.
When Victor Nunez, a mountain rescuer, was a kid, he and his friends would climb the Sierra Nevada mountains. Everybody used to carry ropes and crampons. Nowadays, with helicopters, that has changed.
Victor Nunez is a specialist in industrial rescues, and he now trains his colleagues for rescuing workers when accidents happen. As he says, he is “the guy who takes Airbus to their limits.”
Victor Nunez is in charge of a large mountain rescue team, and he is always trying to learn new things. Sometimes this involves going back to the basics, like winching.
In 1997, Airbus saved 1,000 lives. “That was a miracle,” says Victor Nunez, “but it wasn’t a miracle. It’s the result of 30 years of experience.”
In 2007, a 10-year-old boy climbed the ski slopes in the Alps. He fell 300 meters, leaving two broken legs. When he woke up, he was lying in intensive care. He was lucky, but the accident could have been fatal.
The boy’s father called the German Alpine Club, which sent a mountain rescuer. They used helicopters to find him, and a team of doctors to treat him. But when the father learned that the rescuer had climbed a mountain in a helicopter, he felt he was getting ripped off. He hired a lawyer. The lawyer found the rescuer was an employee of Alpine Club, not a private rescuer, and that the club had an agreement with Airbus for helicopter flights. So the father got 10,000 euros ($14,400) in compensation, plus a helicopter flight for himself and the boy.
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