Spotlight on Women in Helicopter Aviation

Uploaded by HelicopterAssoc on 12.04.2011

>>SALLY MURPHY - First Female U.S. Army Helicopter Pilot: I was selected in 1973 to begin the Army's initial entry rotary wing program
That is the first level of flight training for the United States Army
I served for 27 years in the Army
and during that 27 years I saw a magical transformation
I was at the beginning of what they called the great WAC expansion
which not only opened fields for women in aviation, eventually, but also women in all sorts of fields
The country had come to realize that their educated daughters were trained and raring to go
in fields that had never been open to them before
It was not too many years later that I saw some of these women
who had been trained in the military, in helicopters and airplanes
had left the service and were fleshing out the ranks of commercial aviation
Now that's not to say that I'm old enough to remember the first woman who ever flew, because I don't
Women have been flying for decades before I even thought of flying
They had been flying for personal pleasure, flying for pay, and they had flown in support of military operations
It was, however, new that the Army was actively recruiting women to join the Army first
to be soldiers, and then to be trained in aviation
Well, I'm credited sometimes for kicking that door
But it's not so much I kicked down the door, it was the fact that the Army deliberately opened the door
and I chose to walk through it
I'm told that I diminish how important that was, but to me it's just living life
You take on a challenge and you either like it or don't like it, then you take on another challenge
It's getting up every morning, and going to work, and doing the best you can
and hoping that people realize you're doing the best you can, and hoping it's good work
I never gave much serious thought to the fact that I was "blazing a trail"
but 27 years later, after many people told me I had done so
I was able to look over my shoulder and realize that I was much more gratified by seeing so many women who had followed that open door
had even made it wider and chosen other doors to open in aviation fields that I had not even considered
If I had gone down that path as the first, but the only woman helicopter pilot in the Army
it would have been a bittersweet experience
but as you'll see, there are women who have entered aviation not just as pilots, but in other fields, other disciplines
and they have their very own stories to tell too
My name is Melissa Mathiasen and I'm the chief pilot at Sikorsky Global Helicopters in Coatesville, Pennsylvania
Sikorsky Global Helicopters is primarily a completions center for the S-76C++ and the S-92A
They also are a production facility, which means that we manufacture the S-76C++
and later this year we will put out our first S-92 that will be manufactured on site
In the flight office itself we support the completions and production schedule
so if an aircraft is produced or manufactured here, we do all of the initial ground runs and test flights for that aircraft
making sure it's airworthy and that it meets all of the FAA requirements and manufacturer requirements for those aircraft
Then it goes into our completions center, and it's essentially outfitted with the interior, the avionics package, the paint scheme that the customer wants
and any other special items that they want in the aircraft
My name is Stacy Sheard, I'm a production test pilot for Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation
Basically, we're flying helicopters for the first time they've ever been flown
For the production line of helicopters, this is their first flight, it might be the first time that the engines are running in the helicopter
so everything, as far as tests, we do it step by step
As soon as everyone has signed off; all the mechanics, avionics technicians, everybody involved with building that helicopter
as soon as they've signed off that they're complete with their individual job, and the helicopter is presented to us
after it's been fully inspected, then we go through a series of checks to make sure that everything inside the cockpit is working and operational
Then we pull it outside and do our first ground runs
Once all the ground operations are done and we're satisfied that the helicopter is safe and complete, everything is working as it should
then it's time to commence the first flights
My name is Amelia Earhart, and I work here at Angel City Air
I also work for CBS and sometimes KCAL, who are two stations in a duopoly together
My title is basically breaking news/aerial reporter I sit in the back seat of the helicopter and I'm also the camera operator
and I operate the HD Cineflex camera that's mounted on the front of the chopper
Basically, Kris and I fly as a team to any situation whether it's traffic, breaking news, a weather shot
or just general morning news during the morning show
we fly together as a team, Kris up front and me in the back seat and we navigate our way to whatever is going on
and I shoot it with the camera, then I talk over that picture
>>Kris Kelley, TV News Pilot: Well I'm a helicopter pilot for CBS here in Los Angeles
So that means I get up really early in the morning because I fly for the morning show
and I fly around Amelia Earhart
who is our camera operator as well as the talent for the morning show, breaking news, and traffic
we do the morning show, Amelia and myself
so my job is to fly Amelia around, do the breaking news or whatever story we're covering that morning
and we'll be out there and be first on scene to get the coverage on the air
My name is Mandy Haskins and I'm a flight paramedic for Priority 1 Air Rescue
being a flight medic, that means that we fly around in the helicopter and do search and rescue missions
and pick up patients that are out in the field somewhere
it's important in Alaska to have search and rescue helicopters because we don't have road systems everywhere like they do in the other U.S. states
Our ability to hoist is a really good way to go in and get these people
because we can go in and hover above their location, then we can hoist down and lift them up in a harness or put them in our litter system
we can start patient care on the ground or we can start it in the helicopter
>>Janie Foster - MEDEVAC Pilot: Hoisting is a lot of fun, at first it was difficult when it was new
however, it has become a lot of fun because it tasks us with a challenge to maintain a very stable hover in one place
with references that are different from when you're on the ground
near the ground you have a lot of visual references, but once you get high and you no longer have trees, rocks, or other items to use as a reference
or when we're over terrain that is falling away, it does make quite a different challenge for holding a hover
It takes a lot of concentration, and of course we have teamwork in the cockpit. The pilot not flying is providing altitude and power information
because we can't really look inside the helicopter, we are focusing on our reference outside
>>Teri Northcott - Owner of Resource Helicopters: I own a helicopter company that primarily fights forest fires
and my job is making sure that everybody is operating safely and that our customer's needs are being met
and that everybody is operating within the regulations that they're supposed to be
I don't really think there is such a thing as a "typical" day
that's one of the things that's so interesting about this business, it's so fast-paced and changing all the time
just by the very nature of how a helicopter itself operates; it doesn't operate within the confines of airports and runways, and those types of things
I find that, overall, the business itself is very much like that. So my days are not typical, one after the other
they can start very early in the morning and go until very late in the evening depending on what time zones my crews are working in
then in the interim you do all of your normal day-to-day stuff like banking and things like that, which you do throughout a normal work day
So, the days can be very long and very full but that's part of the appeal
I'm Stacy Gandy, I'm an aviation maintenance technican for Air Methods out of Denver, Colorado.
I hold an airframe and powerplant license and I'm also an air worthiness inspector for the FAA
Basically, I'm called an on sight mechanic, I'm here for this helicopter only; 24 hours, 7 days a week
I generally work here about 5 hours a day doing inspections and any maintenance I need to do. After that I'm on call for the rest of the day
The helicopter doesn't always break here. It might be in a field, or someplace they have a hard time giving you directions to find
It's kind of interesting because it's not standard and you have to be very flexible
My name is Heather Collins and my title is Registered Nurse/Flight Nurse at AeroMed; I work for Tampa General Hospital
I have worked for Tampa General since 1975 and with this flight program since 1989
The duties here emcompass nursing care of the patient as well as the aviation aspect of flight nursing
A typical call will either be a "scene call" or an "interfacility". A scene call is when we go to the site of an accident and pick up the patients
They will land us in a field or whatever is close by to the accident
We'll recieve the patient from the paramedics who have cared for the patient on scene, get report, do any interventions that might be necessary to stabilize the patient
load them on our aircraft and take them to the nearest trauma center, or stroke center or whatever the most appropirate place is for the patient
My name is Caroline Caine, I'm a captain with Bristow Helicopters in Alaska. I fly a Bell Helicopter 407, in a remote location on the north slope of the Brook's Range
I fly to pump station number 4 and it's located along the Trans-Alaska Pipeline
Working in a remote location, we only have about 40-45 people on site at pump 4
Being in such a remote location, you really need to get along with the folks there, otherwise it doesn't create a very fun work environment
We're on a 2 week on, 2 week off work rotation. You can drive to pump 4 on the Dalton Highway or the "Haul Road" as it's called
But that can take about 8 hours, so it wouldn't be a very good commute. So Alyeska actually charters an airline, and we fly in every other Thursday
Current pilot duties and responsibilities include: oil spill response, weekly pipeline survelliance
We do medevacs and external load operations and also air support for the communication repeater sites
Pump station 4 covers 208 miles of the pipeline and we cover from pump station number 1 to mile post 208
So that's all in mile post miles, or pipeline miles
The weekly survelliance that we do, we actually have a securtiy observer with us, we'll fly about 300 feet off the ground at about 100 knots
It's a lot a fun flying low like that. The observer will then look out the window, check the integrity of the pipe and make sure there haven't been any changes
My name is Sjaan Schoepf, I'm a seasonal contract pilot for Bristow Alaska
I have been up here two previous seasons and I have also worked tours and I've done a little EMS
but I think my passion is mostly in utility and especially in precision long line work
As a long line pilot you have what they call an external load, so if you've ever seen a firefighting helicopter where there's a line that comes down below
in firefighting you have a water bucket. You can use that same technique, but instead of fighting fires with water, you can set air conditioning units on top of a roof
Or you can do all sorts of different things. In my case, mostly I've moved drills for an exploration that's looking for coal
and I move these drills that have different pieces and sections which need to be stacked, and obviously they are too heavy for a person or two people to lift
and they are in the remote locations of Alaska, so you can't haul in heavy equipment and tear up the tundra, so we do it all by helicopter
My name is Amy Sargent, I'm with the Florida Keys Mosquito Control, I'm the chief pilot and we spray for mosquitos
We both larvicide and adulticide, which means that we are killing both mosquito larvae and adult mosquitos using helicopters and fixed wing aircraft
When we larvacide we have a spray system that puts out a granular pellet, which is actually ground up corn cob with a bacteria on it
The mosquito larvae will eat the bacteria that comes off the ground up corn cob and it causes their stomach lining to rupture, killing the mosquito larvae
To adulticide we use a liquid product that we spray out of the helicopter
We have 11 pilots here at Mosquito Control, 7 of them are fixed-wing and just part-time pilots, and 4 of us are helicopter pilots
Our spray season normally runs from May to October, that's our busy season. During the off season we do a lot of training
Everything we do is low level, right over the tree tops, over wires, around towers. I hate to use the term "type A" personality, but you do need to be a perfectionist
I think most pilots are, it's required. I shouldn't say it's required, it's a skill that will help save your life, because you can't be wrong
When you start making mistakes, that chain of events is going to lead to an accident. So you need to be a perfectionist and that's what we train for
>>Stacy Gandy: Helicopters are like thousands of little serial numbers that fly around together, every one of these components has to be tracked
People don't realize how safe helicopters are because of that very reason, every component has a time life and an overhaul time
This makes the paperwork almost as important as the maintenance, because it's our responsibility to maintain the aircraft within those regulated guidelines
>>Stacy Sheard: We have such a process involved in everything we do here, that nothing will go out of here if it's not ready
If it doesn't pass every certain test in succession then the aircraft does not move forward. It's quite safe. My mother doesn't think so, but it is, very much so
>>Melissa Mathiasen: There are aspects of being a test pilot that really require a special kind of person, a special constitution, and special abilities both technical and professional
I think a test pilot is above all a professional, they aren't "hot-doggers" or "cowboys". They are there to do a very specific job, as opposed to just going out to fly and have a good time
Not as opposed to other careers, but in aviation you need to become a professional, and the reason for that is probably obvious
everything you do someone's life depends on it, including your own
You want to be precise about how you fly and responsible with your passengers
You want to be to responsible when turning wrenches on the aircraft because people will be flying it
That teaches you professionalism and safety, it gives you pride about your work and you actually get to see it fly, or fly it yourself
That is what really drew me to aviation
>>Stacy Sheard: To fly a helicopter, both of your hands, both of your feet and your mouth are working.
>>Amy Sargent: The first time I started learning, I thought there was no way I'd be able to do this, I was all over the place
>>Sjaan Shoepf: I got in and the instructor took us up, he gave me one control, then two and he said, "okay you have it" and I was convinced that I did
We drifted about 30 feet and he said, "Oh you don't have it" so he took the controls back over
>>Amy Sargent: The whole time I was training to be a helicopter pilot I was pregnant
>>Stacy Sheard: I think it's just like everything else you learn, riding a bike, skateboard. Everything takes a bit of coordination and time
>>Janie Foster: Once it get through it all, it's well worth it. It may not always seem that way when your going through training
Then the difficult part after you get your inital training, and if you work as a CFI building your hours, is to get a job
>>Sjaan Schoepf: Once you get your first turbine job you got some experience, then it opens up a little bit more
I think that's probably like any other career; the more experience you have and the more skills you acquire, then more options become available
>>Stacy Sheard: When I began working for Sikorsky, I had already done a lot of different jobs in the civilian and military industry
I flew Huey's and Blackhawks in the army and I went from flying infantry soliders around
and yelling at them when we land "get out, get out, get out!", they have 3 seconds to get the heck out of the helicopter and we're gone
to moving to Las Vegas, and flying tours with someone's Grandma sitting next to me
When I was 5, I went to Germany to visit my grandmother and my aunt was a flight attendant for Pan American at the time
She let me serve the hot towels and I thought, "I want to be a flight attendant!" So from age 5 to 18, I knew that was what I wanted
So I applied to 2 major airlines, and they said "Sorry...", and I said "What!?" Then I said, "okay I'm going to be a pilot instead"
>>Amelia Earhart: My full name is Amelia Earhart, and most people consider that to be a little strange, so it draws a lot of attention
My family is distantly related to the "original" Amelia Earhart, and I was named after her
My family doesn't really have any ties to aviation, they just wanted to give me the name of a positive female role model
They wanted to give me a name that no one would ever forget, but they let me find aviation on my own
>>Amy Sargent: It's kind of funny because I didn't want to fly helicopters. They made me and now I love it
My background is in airplanes; I started flying when I was 15 years old. I've flown corporate, I've flown for "Life Link" Air Ambulance
I flew for commuters, I flew for a charter company, Sun Country Airlines then I was on with Delta Airlines for a year
But after "9/11" they furloughed 1,100 people, and I was one of them
When I found a job here at Mosquito Control as a part-time airplane pilot, after awhile they created a position for a assistant chief pilot
So I started doing that, and then the chief pilot position opened up, but they required the chief pilot to be dual rated
So they trained me to be a helicopter pilot
>>Amelia Earhart: I think that most people are at least vaguely interested in helicopters, but not everyone is a good fit to work in one
If you get a job at a newsroom, usually you will need to work your way up to the helicopter, that is how I did it
If you show interest, as a reporter, in just going up for a ride, or shadowing one of the reporters that works in the helicopter
That's a great way to find out if you'd enjoy working in one, and most people who work in helicopters will happily answer all of your questions
Do you want to see how I run the camera? Come on out, I'll spend 2 hours telling you about it, because we love what we do
>>Stacy Gandy: There are many ways you can become an aircraft mechanic
You can go to school for 2 years, you can learn in the military, but in order to get a civilian license you have submit that experience and take tests
Or you can work as an apprentice for an aircraft inspector for 3 years, then that inspector can sign you off and you get your license
That is how I got mine. It might be the hardest way, but you definitely know what your doing by the time you get your license
I actually have a degree in psychology and was going to law school, then I took a summer job waxing World War II airplanes and I never left aviation
>>Caroline Caine: The Whirly Girl Organization is quite unique, when you become a private pilot they issue you a number and I became #587
I believe there are over 1,700 now internationally. What's really nice is that if someone wants to forward their career in aviation
They can actually apply for scholarships, a few of my friends have actually received scholarships of $5,000 and more
>>Heather Collins: You certainly wouldn't want to invest a lot of time and money into something and find out later that you get motion sick, and it just isn't for you
and we have had that happen
So, if someone thinks they might be intersted in doing this, they need to make sure that the nursing field or paramedic field is right for them
If that fits, then there are opprotunities to fly along with certain programs, they allow you to get your feet wet and decide
Usually you'll know right away, yes this is for me, or no this is not for me
>>Kris Kelly: A lot of people start in fixed wing, and they go over and add on the helicopter rating
I chose to do it all in helicopters, that was where my heart and passion was
>>Sjaan Schoepf: Basically you have to love to fly and you have to like helicopters
It's not as glamorous as everyone makes it out to be, so if you're just looking for the image of being of a helicopter pilot
it is a lot of work and it's still a job, so you really must enjoy it
>>Amelia Earhart: I get up each day at 3:15 AM and that's horrible, I won't lie. When that alarm goes off, I don't get up and go "Yeah I'm going to work!"
But the second I pull into the driveway here at the airport, and I see that helicopter sitting out there on the ramp
That's when I say, "alright let's do it again, let's see what's going to happen today." That is what is cool about this job, I never know
>>Caroline Caine: I flew for New York Helicopters in 1988, then I actually took some time off and now I'm back flying
When I first got hired here at Bristow, I think the chief pilot had more confidence in me than I did at the time
I had not flown in 14 years. I decided to get married and have a family and actually thought my career was done
My dad passed away 2 years ago and the shock of that reminded me that life is short, and the only flying I was doing was in my dreams
I would look up and see the helicopters and tell my kids, "That's an A Star or there's a Jet Ranger!" and they would say "what's that?"
Finally I said, "I have to get back into this"
>>Melissa Mathiasen: Your love for aviation can start at any age, you can be impacted by something at any age
There are so many different jobs you can have in aviation; you can be good at math, the arts, reading
or if you really like computer science, you can find a home in aviation
So, if you have any interest at all, just go to a small airport and talk to some of the pilots around there
If you want to get started in any kind of industry, you need to start networking; don't be shy, get out there and go for what you want to do
I never considered myself particularly special at anything and look what I got to do
I really just encourage you, if you have any interest at all, go check it out