Sunday, January 22, 2012

500 Hours!

Yahoo! Yippee! Ben has 500 hours of helicopter flight time! Come on people, celebrate with me!! Yet another tick in the box of Helimission requirements putting us one step closer to the field.

When I’ve told people about Ben logging his 500th hour the most common response is, “So what else do you have to do?” The next qualification on the agenda is 100hrs of turbine time, which basically means 100hrs in a larger helicopter (think hospital or news helicopter). So how do we get there? Well, in the US companies that fly turbine aircraft don’t hire pilots and transition them into a turbine helicopter unless the pilot has about 1,500 – 2,000hrs. 

Here’s our plan – Ben recently said yes to an offer from the EASA Flight Department (European flight training team) to become one of their instructors. This is a wonderful opportunity because the EASA team, unlike the team he now works for, pre-schedule their flights. With a full student load Ben would be flying four 2 hour slots per day with each slot giving him approximately 1.2hours of actual flight time. Do the math and you’ll see that he’ll be logging more than 20 hours per week of flight time. That adds up pretty quickly! 

Before starting work as an EASA instructor Ben needs to complete the EASA FI (Flight Instructor) Course. I know what you’re thinking – Not another course! We thought he was finished training! The good thing about this course is that now that Ben works for the Academy as an instructor the training is paid for. That’s right, an $8,000+ course all paid for by the school! In exchange Ben will be bonded to the Academy for nine months. Since we are planning to be here at least that long anyway this is a deal we’re quite happy about. Not to mention the opportunity to for Ben to train one-on-one with the school’s EASA Chief Pilot who before coming to the school was the head of the Royal Navy helicopter SAR (Search and Rescue) operations in the UK! It’s quite a privilege to be able to fly and learn from such an experienced pilot. 

What I haven’t told you is that I flew Ben’s 500th hour with him. Earlier in the week Ben’s parents each had a flight with him and due to work commitments it didn’t look like I’d have the opportunity to fly as well. In the end it worked out that I was able to. How special to cross this goal line together.  One flight at a time we move ever closer to one day serving in the mission field. Yes, this has been quite a long road, but it is also one we feel privileged to travel.

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