Congratulations to our Helicopter Training Student of the Month for November, Pam Garrity! Pam took the time to fill us in on her journey through helicopter training here at Mauna Loa — more from her below:
A couple years back, I worked as a loader for a helicopter company in Juneau, Alaska. There, I was able to experience the incredible landscapes a helicopter gives one access to, the variety of the field, and the excitement of flight. It dawned on me that it was the type of challenging occupation I’d been looking for.
I took just one intro flight before coming out to Hawaii and starting the professional pilot program at MLH, which I’d found by researching schools online. My friends in the industry confirmed MLH had a good reputation, and I was encouraged by the prospect of flying all year without much chance for weather cancellations.
It’s been ten months since I arrived. I currently hold Commercial and CFI helicopter ratings, and I hope to start instrument training soon.
While I’ve never flown any helicopter but the R22 and R44, I enjoy how small and sensitive they are — kind of like strapping a rotor system to your back. For some reason I relate the feeling of piloting to riding a horse: the pre and post flight work, the motor skills and intuition used, and the importance of recognizing limits. The helicopters even seem to have personalities, though I’m constantly reminded not to choose favorites!
Being surrounded by pilots can sometimes make you forget these are very difficult skills to achieve, so my advice for new students would be to not let a learning plateau, a bad day, or personal doubts hold you back. Talk to other students and flight instructors — chances are they’ve had the same struggles and insecurities. If it were easy, everyone would do it.
I hope my training allows me to work diverse jobs as I gain experience. Flying for a tour company, the forest service, a fire fighting unit, the ski industry, and search and rescue would be potential jobs I’d be interested in pursuing someday in the future.
One of my favorite experiences flying in Hawaii was the first time I had a flight in the valleys. We saw whales just off the coast, and the landscape up north changes suddenly from rolling farmlands to staggering emerald-green valleys. It had rained a lot, so the waterfalls were gushing off the cliffs and into the sea. It was beautiful, and couldn’t be experienced in the same way from either the ground or a plane. As a student pilot, one spends a lot of time circling the airport pattern, so being immersed in that dynamic landscape was a vivid reminder of what all the training’s for!
Are you looking to kickstart your aviation career? You could be our next Student of the Month!Start Your Helicopter Training!