In 1914, Woodrow Wilson, the 28th president of the United States, said to the National Press Club, “I not only use all the brains I have, but all I can borrow.” In our industry, we should all take this sentiment to heart. Whether you need to borrow some brains or you are willing to share your experience and perspectives to help others, step forward and get involved.
At one point in my career, I was fortunate enough to be in on the ground floor of the introduction of night-vision goggles into US civil aviation. Some of the bright and dedicated individuals who worked to make this happen were Dutch Fridd of Rocky Mountain Helicopters, supported by Russ Spray, our CEO, and Karl Poulsen, VP of Aviation Services; Grant Pearsol, Lynn Higgins, and Lew Olson of the FAA’s Salt Lake City Flight Standards District Office; and Mike Atwood of Aviation Specialties Unlimited. My thanks to them and all the individuals who measurably advanced the level of safety in the helicopter air ambulance sector.
Progress in aviation can sometimes be slow. It takes years to get an aircraft certified or a rule changed. Some issues we have in our industry, like the shortage of pilots and mechanics, didn’t arrive in one day—and it will take more than one day to solve them. Still, when I see what people around the industry are achieving, I am encouraged about our future.
On September 7, 2018, I had the privilege of attending a safety symposium hosted by the Rotary Wing Society of India (RWSI). It was a great event, with representation from all branches of the Indian military and from virtually every civil operator, manufacturer, and industry stakeholder from neighboring countries.
The RWSI is an all-volunteer group headed by Air Vice Marshal K. Sridharan that was formed 20 years ago to promote the safe and efficient use of helicopters in India and surrounding areas. The scope of their work is amazing as they tackle every topic related to the improvement of Indian helicopter operations.
On September 29, HAI cohosted a regional safety conference with the Professional Helicopter Pilots Association (PHPA) in Van Nuys, California. The PHPA is another all-volunteer group of aviation professionals dedicated to the safe and efficient operation of helicopters, this time in Southern California. I have had the pleasure of working with Morrie Zager, PHPA president, and some PHPA members on the issue of helicopter noise in the Los Angeles Basin. The L.A. Area Helicopter Operators Association (LAAHOA), headed by Chuck Street, is another volunteer industry group that is active in Southern California.
PHPA and LAAHOA have been instrumental in finding solutions for noise-sensitive areas around the L.A. Basin, working with representatives from the FAA’s Western-Pacific Regional Office, Robinson Helicopter, local homeowners, and individual pilots. Without their efforts, helicopter operations in the region could become very limited or go away altogether.
Time and again in my career, I’ve seen how individuals can work together for the benefit of all. It’s a reminder that our united efforts can make a difference.
I would encourage all in our industry, regardless of your position, to become involved with groups like these. To paraphrase Wilson: get out there and borrow those brains.
There is so much talent out there, and as aviation professionals, we all have a license to learn. So many are willing to share their knowledge and abilities to improve our industry. Join them!