7 Ways to Identify a Military Helicopter Pilot

February 2, 2015 | Author: Carrie Sinclair

I talked with a few Honeywell military helicopter veterans recently, and learned that they are really part of a club. Here are 7 Ways to Identify a Military Helicopter Pilot:

1. That pessimistic attitude.

HelicopterHelicopter pilots are constantly reassessing the worst-case scenario, looking for escape routes, blue water, and obstacles. According to Karl Schultz, former Lieutenant Commander, Helicopter Pilot and Maintenance Officer, U.S. Navy, "We joked that a helicopter is really a million parts flying in close formation." Helicopters are the toughest environment for those parts like delicate avionics, which is why they are tested so much before certification.

Keep Your Turns Up Thought Bubble

2. They focus on the critical events.

“Keep your turns up” is a reference to Nr, the rotor speed gauge.  After all, at the end of the day, the rotors are what keep you in the air.  When things go to hell, pick the most important thing to concentrate on; when that’s taken care of, deal with less critical issues.

Aviator Sunglasses

3. They're not the belle of the ball. (Part 1)

Jet pilots have tans and cool aviator glasses. Helicopter pilots make sure they have pockets, many pockets - to make sure they have enough storage for everything they need to carry. Jet pilots have “Top Gun.”  Helicopter guys have “Fire Birds” (Nicholas Cage, Tommy Lee Jones…Karl does not recommend it.)  And football games rarely have a “low speed flyover” to impress the fans. I’m told helicopter pilots make up for it in humor and personality.  

4. Not your conventional "sexy." (Part 2)

TurtleYou don’t take a helicopter to break the sound barrier. And the pre-check could take a few hours, depending on the last maintenance. (Maybe our HUMS can save you some time.) But you want speed? Try a jet. 

No Limits Sign

5. They're flexible.

The very thing that makes a helicopter unique is the ability to go anywhere, anytime. No runway? No problem. A tank of fuel, pilots and crew and you can go anywhere.

Because things go off-plan so often, it rarely fazes a helicopter guy…”semper gumby."

6. They are pragmatic.

Hero SymbolWhether you’re talking a flood, earthquake, or fire, when a natural disaster destroys the infrastructure, and you need to get people out, and supplies in, the sexy flyover of the F-18s isn’t doing you much good.  All you need to land a helicopter is a flat field, which makes them ideal for disaster relief and unprepared field operations. Sometimes you don't even need to land - just hovering with a hoist accomplishes the mission!

7. They're part of a team.

JerseyBeing a helicopter pilot is a lot more social. Maintenance is integral to the birds flying, and as such, you’ll often notice helicopter pilots spend a lot of time hanging out with their maintenance crews than their faster brethren. (See #4.) Especially in the military, where helicopters require two pilots and at least one crewman, it’s a team sport. And because they can land anywhere, they get to have a lot of adventures with their team.

They seem to have their own language! What did I forget? Let me know in the comments. (Note: Inspired by my 8 year old's new obsession of developing comic strips, I drew the images.)

Carrie Sinclair

Carrie Sinclair

Carrie Sinclair is the director of digital marketing at Honeywell Aerospace. Her responsibilities include content marketing, marketing automation, social and broadcast media and website innovation. In 15 years at Honeywell, Carrie has worked in a variety of roles, including marketing communications, strategic marketing, internet marketing, channel marketing, employee communications and media relations, across both commercial and defense segments. Before joining Honeywell, she was an account executive at Sullivan Higdon & Sink, an advertising and PR firm in Kansas City. Carrie has an MBA in marketing from the University of Kansas and a bachelor's of science from the University of Kansas' William Allen White School of Journalism. When she's not cheering on her alma mater (Rock Chalk Jayhawk!), she's cheering on her boys who play hockey, or knitting something to keep her warm when she cheers them on in hockey.

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