I must respectfully disagree with Lt. Col. John Powell that graduates of today’s military flight schools are not as proficient as those from 15-30 years ago, and that "the idea of an autorotation to the ground is a foreign concept" ("The LUH Award," October 2006, page 7).
As a recent graduate of the U.S. Navy’s Naval Flight Training via Helicopter Training Sqdn. 18 (HT-18, "The Vigilant Eagles") at NAS Whiting Field, Fla., I take great exception to the notion that we have not taken steps forward in military flight training over the past 15-30 years. Crew resource management and GPS/advanced instrument navigation are two recent additions to military flight training. It is difficult to argue that these aspects alone do not make for a safer and better overall aviator.
I can’t speak for the U.S. Army, but Navy and Coast Guard students are trained in and complete numerous full autos in the Bell TH-57B and even more power-recovery autos in the TH-57C. I was impressed with the training I received, and it has served me well during my first few months in the operational Coast Guard. To say that we are not doing a good job training our future aviators would do a disservice to the Coast Guard, Navy, and Marine Corps instructors and staff at Whiting Field.
Lt. j.g. Christian Polyak, U.S. Coast Guard
Port Angeles, Wash.
The comments of several readers questioning whether there really is a pilot shortage prompt me to write with a possible explanation. I have been a Rotor & Wing reader for the past 15 years. I was an FBI special agent and pilot-in-command, as well as a lieutenant colonel and senior aviator in the U.S. Army.
For Vietnam, the U.S. military trained many pilots. I was among them in the late 1960s. I flew CH-47s for the 1st Cavalry Div. in Vietnam on my second combat tour.
There was a glut of pilots seeking civilian jobs late in the Vietnam War. Employers could pick and choose from former service pilots with ample aviation credentials. I believe this is the current situation, due to the protracted wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. With the requirements for multiple tours in the war zone, many pilots are leaving the military, seeking employment in the private sector.
Perhaps, too, aircraft manufacturers cater to the military services, given their greater contract awards, than to civilian operators with smaller fleets and limited funding.
In any case, private employers now have many applicants for the limited number of aviation jobs available (even though there is an ever-expanding marketplace using helicopter operations).
One of your readers, Rudy Schneider, made an excellent suggestion ("Where Are The Jobs [Cont’d]," October 2006, page 7). R&W should run a monthly column or article helping pilots seeking employment with job listings worldwide. This would be beneficial to pilots and employers alike and should certainly increase R&W’s circulation and prowess in the field.
We are a flying school and commercial operation based in Mallorca and all of us read R&W. Sloane Helicopters here is a satellite base of Sloane Helicopters, the Robinson and Agusta distributor for the United Kingdom, based in Sywell, Northampton. I read with interest your question of the month on whether Frank Robinson’s proposal for flight schools to replace R22s with the R44 makes sense (Feedback, September 2006, page 7).
Our answer is YES. In fact, we operate six helicopters here in Mallorca. Only one is an R22; the rest are R44s. We have seen a marked increase in R44 training recently, and now 75 percent of our flight training is conducted in the R44.
There are many reasons for this. It is more stable and easier to learn to fly in. You can let the student learn more from his or her mistakes, as it is more forgiving and the student tends to learn at a faster rate. With JAA regulations requiring that you have to do a type-rating conversion from the R22 to the R44, coupled with the fact that most R22 students will convert over to the R44, the cost difference is not as great as some people think.
If you’re interested, you can come and visit us here in Mallorca to see our operations and flying school. We have been based in Mallorca for over 10 years. We are a CAA-approved type-rating training organization (TRTO) offering the JAA private pilot’s license (helicopter) [PPL(H)] and type-rating conversion courses. We have one of the youngest fleets of Robinsons in Europe (all one year old or less) and probably one of the most varied fleets available — a Raven 1, a Clipper 1 with fixed utility floats, a Clipper 2 with fixed utility floats and two Clipper 2s with pop-out floats. As well as training, we also specialize in aerial photography (stills and video) and, with the massive influx of tourists in the summer, offer pleasure flights throughout the island.
Flight Instructor & Commercial Pilot
Sloane Helicopters Mallorca
Do you have comments on the rotorcraft industry or recent articles and viewpoints we’ve published? Send them to: Editor, Rotor & Wing, 4 Choke Cherry Road, Second Floor, Rockville, MD 20850, fax us at 301-354-1809 or email us at email@example.com. Please include a city and state or province with your name and ratings. We reserve the right to edit all submitted material.
What was the most important professional development for you or your company in 2006?
Let us know, and look for your and others’ responses in a future issue. You’ll find contact information at the bottom of the page.