After a couple years of working as a pilot and flight instructor, Elan began working for helicopter magazines: first as editor-in-chief, now as special projects editor. Her job gives her fantastic exposure to diverse helicopter operations and training experiences around the world.
“After one or five or 15 years of feeling comfortable in that identity, some of us will fly our first long line. After hundreds or thousands of hours in the air with our head up, looking forward, we now try leaning out the side of the aircraft, looking down. Our heading drifts. The aircraft wobbles. Suddenly our identity falls to pieces because any casual observer would doubt that we know how to fly at all.
This is the frustrating, ego-bruising, addictively challenging experience that awaits any pilot who seeks a career in the utility helicopter industry. And it was the experience that awaited me last year, when I signed up for an 11-day vertical reference long line course at Volo Mission in Campbell, Texas.”
Going into the Volo Mission course, I already knew from first-hand experience that Hutchings was qualified to teach it. Hutchings is a long-time pilot for Columbia Helicopters; currently, when he’s not teaching pilots how to long line, he’s managing Columbia’s contract operations in Afghanistan.
While Volo Mission training is designed to impart a high level of technical skill, Kim and Andre have placed just as much emphasis on developing their students’ mental games. Volo Mission aims to create not just long line pilots, but long line professionals: pilots who don’t take shortcuts, who strive for perfection, and who are diligent about managing the risks associated with these uniquely unforgiving operations.