Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Executive Helicopters Inc. PART 1

It was good to be back in Kansas City.  I had been away for over six months and I was anxious to get settled and started on my new job.  Jerry Getz the owner of Executive Helicopters and my new boss  gave me the opportunity of a lifetime.  There are so few positions.  It was that way then, and still to this day, it  does not offer many  jobs to every helicopter pilot who chooses a career in helicopter aviation.  Several factors enter into this equation.  Helicopters initially are very expensive to purchase, new or used.  The insurance is very high, and sometimes it's not a case of how much you are willing to pay for the coverage, it's a matter of whether the insurance companies will even write the policies. Lloyd's of London often write a portion of these insurance policies. Then comes the cost of maintenance and replacement parts and components.  Helicopters  unlike airplanes, constantly go through a cycle of replacing or overhauling major components.  Such as main rotor blades, drive shaft, gear boxes and engines.  When helicopters are certificated, it is then determined at what intervals this will be done.  Usually on an hourly basis and some things are retired on calendar time periods.  The reason I would mention any of this is to give you a better understanding of just how important it is to have the best experienced people operating these machines.  There are so many moving parts in a helicopter and these machines can be destroyed in a split second.  When operating a helicopter, the margin for error, is ZERO.
So now you can begin to see how fortunate I was to get this job.  I'm sure that Jerry Getz could have found a much more seasoned pilot, but he took a chance and I was thankful for his trust in me.

I don't think there was a day that went by, that some new use or application came up where a helicopter could be put to use.  Executive Helicopters did all the usual types of business, but also did many other different jobs as well.  I credit Jerry Getz for his innovative ways of how he could best use the companies helicopter services.  The core of our work was pipeline patrols for major petroleum companies, local radio station news and traffic watches, power line patrols and aerial photography.  Then comes all the fun stuff that I'll explain later.

My typical day would start like this, I would usually arrive at the airport between 0500 and 0600 hours every weekday morning.  This would give me time to roll out the helicopter and give it a preflight, before the first flight of the day.  We had to be in the air by 0700 hours, before our first live broadcast for a local radio station (KMBC) traffic watch.  This flight would last around 1.5 hours.  When I got back to the airport, I had just enough time to get the helicopter refueled, grab a cup of coffee and then begin a three hour flight for Williams Brothers pipeline company.  These were low level flights out across the city and to the outer limits of the city.  The pipelines were very old and some dated back to the 20's and 30's.  Many different types of petroleum products were shipped through these pipelines and if a leak should be found, we could dispatch a ground crew to make an inspection of any area that may look suspicious.  The pipelines were all underground in most places and were marked with large signs
every mile with a mile marker number.  Also fence post were often marked with a different
marking for each of the companies.  It took a while to learn all of the different pipeline routes.

No comments:

Post a Comment