This is Episode 47 of The Rotary Wing Show and our main interview today is Dick Smith, the first person to fly a helicopter solo around the world plus a bunch of other aviation first and records.
For Australians, Dick Smith is someone that doesn’t need too much of an introduction. He is very active in a number of areas and for such a long time such that most people in Australia would at least know who he is but I’m sure don’t know many of his aviation feats.
For the sake of our international audience though I’ll give you a bit more of an extended version of Dick’s bio.
Dick and his wife Pip built up and sold two quite large businesses here in Australia – Dick Smith Electronics and Australian Geographic.
As you’ll hear about coming up Dick was the first person to fly solo around the world in a helicopter which included the first crossing of the Atlantic in a helicopter. Then later on the first person to fly a helicopter around the world from East to West against the prevailing winds.
He was the first person to fly a helicopter to the North pole and has also flown around the south pole in a fixed wing. In the hot-air balloon world he was first to complete a non-stop crossing of the Australian continent and to pilot a balloon from New Zealand to Australia.
Some additional dot points…
- 1986 Australian of the Year
- 2015 Companion of the Order of Australia ‘community services and devotion to flying’
‘awarded for eminent achievement and merit of the highest degree in service to Australia or humanity at large’
2nd highest appointment in order of Australia honours system
- 1992 – United States’ (Charles) Lindbergh award. The Award, “is given annually to individuals whose work over many years has made significant contributions toward the Lindbergh’s concept of balancing technology and nature.
http://lindberghfoundation.org/lindbergh-award Other notable awardees – Harrison Ford, Burt Rutan, David Suzuki, Neil Armstrong, Edmund Hillary, James Doolittle, Jacques Cousteau
- 1990 -1992 Chairman of the Board of the Civil Aviation Authority
- 1997 – 1999 Deputy-Chairman and Chairman of the Board CASA
At time we go to air in May 2016 – Dick has recently attended an industry meeting in Tamworth about the state of general aviation regulation and Part 61 here in Australia so we get to chat about that too.
In this week’s episode:
01:20 Goal of the Rotary Wing Show
02:20 iTunes review feedback
03:33 Dick Smith Bio
07:30 Getting into helicopters
08:30 Trying to learn to fly a helicopter
10:00 First solo circuit
11:20 Selecting the engine to take around the world
13:40 Australian helicopters had to operate as fixed wing traffic
15:40 Planning the around the world route
17:15 Ross Perot, Jr. and Jay Coburn, Spirit of Texas + Hercules support first around the world
18:30 Finding a container ship in the fog for refuel
22:50 Refueling on a rolling ship deck
25:00 Close calls and frights
27:40 Monsoons through Burma, beach landing
30:00 What was trying to achieve at CAA/CASA position
35:10 Average age of the Australian general aviation business owner
36:30 Part 61 reform process
37:50 Cost of doing aviation business in Australia
40:30 Biannual flight review requirements increased
42:20 Changes are not addressing any known safety issue
45:40 GA airfields sold off and being used for non-aviation activities for revenue streams
47:20 Dick’s current helicopters and flying
49:50 Hong Kong Peninsula Hotel – opening of the roof top helipad
52:00 Flying under the Sydney Harbour bridge
56:00 World Helicopter Day
56:40 Episode Sponsors trainmorepilots.com
BBC documentary with film that Dick Smith recorded during the first solo circumnavigation of the globe in a helicopter
Be part of the conversation about this interview by leaving a comment below. What would be the part of the world that you would most like to fly over?