Learning to fly a helicopter is not for everyone. It is going to be incredibly different from almost anything you may have done before. Getting through the training may be the hardest thing you will ever do.
Your future as a helicopter pilot is something to be incredibly proud of. In these interviews, we aim to show you the varied people and backgrounds who are helicopter pilots.
This commercial pilot interview is with – Commercial Helicopter Pilot – Meghan Simpson
How old were you when you decided to learn to fly a helicopter?
I was 5 years old when I decided I wanted to learn how to fly and 18 when I first started learning to fly helicopters.
What led you to this decision?
My dad is a fixed-wing and helicopter pilot and I would watch him fly all the time, growing up in a remote hunting camp in the Northwest Territories.
How long did it take?
It took 2 months to achieve my private license and then I flew for a summer for my parents. I then finished my commercial license the next winter. I went on to get my commercial license in both Canada and the United States.
Where did you study? How did you choose that school?
I studied in Glendale, Az and Gold Coast Helicopters was the name of the company I learnt to fly with. My dad had gotten his helicopter license there the year before, and really enjoyed the instructor there.
Did you study in a classroom or at home?
I studied in a classroom only.
Did you choose private or commercial license and why?
I chose commercial license because I could make a living at it and it was going to be my career.
How did you pay for your study?
I had scholarship money and my parents helped me out to pay for my license, which I then worked for the family business flying for the next 10 years.
Which subject/s in the theory did you find most interesting?
I found meteorology the most interesting in theory.
Which subject/s in the theory did you find most difficult?
I found navigation the most difficult to learn in theory.
What aspects of the practical work were the most challenging?
The beginning when learning how to hover was defiantly the hardest for practical work. It is when you just start out and it hasn’t even been 10 hours. You’re nervous and its like trying to pat your head and rub your stomach at the same time.
What aspects of the practical work were the most enjoyable?
The most enjoyable of the practical work for me was 180 engine failures. I love learning how to auto rotate.
Are you working in the industry?
I am working in the industry as my own boss, I started a tourism company in Southern Alberta, Canada. I fly not only tours but also government contract work and camp work as well.
Do you have another job as well as flying?
My husband and I own an outfitting and tourism company where we take hunters on guided trips for bighorn sheep, elk, moose and deer.
Do you recommend others learn to fly?
I definitely recommend others to fly, but first, decide if you want to do it as a hobby or as a career. It is very expensive and dangerous so you have to be 100% in. Flying is like nothing you have done before, to be able to soar where the birds do and land on the tops of mountain peaks is unreal.
What are your flight plans for the future?
My flight plans for the future are to continue to fly as long as I can and keep having fun at it. Keep pushing myself to be a better pilot.
Do you have any stories to tell about learning to fly?
I have lots of stories about flying in the mountains where I do 90% of my work, lots with bad weather. It is important to be prepared for anything, from the shoes you wear to the jacket you pack for the flight.
Do you have a favourite helicopter you have flown and why?
I have flown an R44 and 206 before , I prefer the R44 the most because that is what I have flown the majority of my time in.
Which helicopter do you dream of flying but have not flown as yet?
I have always dreamt of flying a Hughes 500, I love how fast they are and everyone always said, “They can turn on a dime and give you change.”
For all other pilots, private or commercial – Heli Addiction would love to hear your story too. Email us firstname.lastname@example.org
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