I started my career in aviation in 1955 as an apprentice aircraft engine mechanic with Trans Australia Airlines (TAA, now Qantas). Toward the end of my apprenticeship I became fascinated with TAA’s Bell 47J helicopters and, when TAA closed their helicopter division, I transferred to Ansett’s helicopter division.
I travelled all over Australia with Ansett as a helicopter engineer until, in 1965, I was transferred to Queensland as the Engineer-In-Charge of their 28 passenger Sikorsky S-61 operation between Proserpine and the resort on Hayman Island.
The Sikorsky technical representative, who travelled to Proserpine frequently, recruited me as a technical representative for Sikorsky, but at the same time I was asked to join a small helicopter company in Sydney to look after two Sycamores. Part of the remuneration package for the local job was a helicopter pilot’s licence, so I accepted this offer instead, and got my pilot’s licence in 1968.
I was very fortunate to have John Stanwix as my instructor. Not only was he my best friend, he was an excellent instructor, and the sort of pilot I became is largely due to John.
This company went bankrupt and I freelanced for a couple of months until I was recruited by Helicopter Utilities to start their S-61 offshore program, and after a couple of years there as a pilot/engineer, I moved to Jayrow Helicopters, again as a pilot/engineer.
During my time with Jayrow, I worked all round Australia and the British Solomon Islands, and did two trips to Antarctica as a pilot/engineer.
I then joined the Victoria Police in order to start their helicopter division. After travelling overseas to evaluate different helicopter types, the Aerospatiale Dauphin was selected and then I made several more trips to France to do the engine, airframe and electrical courses for the Dauphin, as well as the pilot’s course and the acceptance flights for the Police helicopter.
I spent the remainder of my time with the Police as their Chief Helicopter Pilot and Chief Engineer. During this time, I trained other engineers, recruited and endorsed more pilots, and conducted all their endorsement, rescue and instrument training. As well as conducting routine Police patrols, I also flew on numerous rescue missions and major fires, one of which was the horrific 1983 Ash Wednesday fire in Victoria.
I was awarded the Royal Humane Society Bronze Medal for a night rescue where I had to operate extremely close to a cliff face to pick up two injured people who had fallen over the cliff whilst ‘socially’ engaged.
In 1981, whilst still with the Police, I purchased a Hughes 269-B and started a part-time training school. The school grew rapidly, and in 1983 the Police Force bureaucracy got too much for me, so I resigned and made Professional Helicopter Services Pty Ltd my full time passion.
I’m endorsed to fly 15 different helicopters, ranging from the Robinson R-22 to the Sikorsky S76; I have nearly 18,000 helicopter hours with well over 7,500 helicopter instructional hours. I’m a Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) Approved Test Officer (ATO), qualified to conduct tests for the issue of Private and Commercial Pilot Licences, Instructor Ratings (including initial issue of Grade 1 ratings), Night Ratings as well as Winch, Water and Formation endorsements.
I’m also a Licensed Aircraft Maintenance Engineer (LAME) with licences in Engines, Airframes, Electrical and Instrument categories, with engineering endorsements ranging from the Robinson R-22 to the Sikorsky S-61.
In 2002, I developed a theory website as I was not happy with the standard of theory in the available text books, particularly in relation to helicopters. There are now over 1,000 helicopter and aeroplane subscribers to this website, including several helicopter and aeroplane schools that either use the website as their primary means of theory instruction, or they recommend it to their home study students. I’ve now added Helicopter and Aeroplane briefing notes to the website. I’ve recently won an award from the Royal Aeronautical Society of Australia for the FLYING TRAINING ORGANISATION OF THE YEAR (2015).
In June 2015, I was notified that I had been awarded the very prestigious title of MASTER AIR PILOT (certificate number 1155) from the British society of THE HONOURABLE COMPANY OF AIR PILOTS (www.airpilots.org), with the certificate being signed by His Royal Highness, Prince Andrew, The Duke of York. To be in this elite group (consisting of pilots, engineers and navigators) with a world-wide membership of not much over 1,000 since its inception in 1929 is extremely flattering.
In September 2018, I was notified that I had been awarded the ‘Col Pay’ award for a LIFETIME OF SERVICE TO GENERAL AVIATION.
As you can see, I have a substantial amount of experience, and I take great pleasure in sharing a lot of it with you in my four books , and even more in the Online Aviation Theory website (www.OnlineAviationTheory.com).