Imagine the flying experience, tips and tricks that you would pick up in a helicopter career spanning 5 decades. Pete Gillies has just retired from full time work in the industry and in this episode he talks about his first experiences of learning to fly a helicopter in the 1960s and passing his commercial helicopter flight test.
Pete Gillies has been a long time Chief Pilot at Western Helicopters in California, USA. He is also a regular contributor to the industry’s leading helicopter publications and a distinguished speaker at events for airborne law enforcers, professional helicopter pilots and the industry at large. He is sought after as an expert witness and for challenging wire pulling, external load and mountain flying operations.
A big thank you to Douglas Williams for recording the audio that you hear in this episode and helping with the setup and photos you see here. Doug trained at Western Helicopters and obtained his PPL/Rotorcraft-Helicopter certificate in December of 2013. Western pushed him to also complete the certificate for Advanced Ground Instructor. Douglas is a past president of EAA Chapter 845 in Redlands, CA where he continues to serve as ground instructor for the Young Eagles events. Douglas is also currently building a Rotorway Jet Exec (turbine conversion) experimental helicopter, and hopes to be flying the skies soon!
Despite his Dad being the Vice-President of Flight Test Engineering at Grumman Aircraft and his Mother being a WASP[Women Airforce Service Pilots], Pete was more interested in a career in electronics initially. He did pick up fixed wing licences but it was 15 years as a technician before Pete showed any interest in helicopters.
The interview in this episode is the story that Pete tells of his first helicopter flight and the start of a distinguished career in the rotary wing world.
Links from this week’s episode:
Marc Philipp Veenendaal’s Instagram account with aviation drawings
Diploma in Leadership and Management
Video – Pete Gillies in an MD500 conducting a longline hookup
In this episode we also mention the hobby Instagram account of aviation artist Marc Veenendaal. It is well worth checking out his drawings on his account. Leave a comment on this blog post to go into the random draw to win for your own custom image from Marc.
Do you know Pete or have flown with him? Use the comments below to leave a public tribute or thank you to Pete Gillies. Also don’t forget our competition for this week – leave a short story or comment about *your* first helicopter experience to win a custom drawing by Marc Veenendaal.
Competition closes Tuesday 23 Feb 2016 0000UTC