This is how it usually goes…you think about flying helicopters, you save up, get loans, pursue career benefits, etc, you enroll in a seriously great school, study hard and graduate, then you teach, and then you go out and fly.
But if you are former student and instructor Mike Kwas, you not only fly, you keep your passion for teaching, become a Training Captain for Liberty Helicopters in New York City, become an Alaskan tour pilot, and fly EMS rescue missions too. Then you are hanging around working at the latest New York City contract one day… (did we mention NYC is one of the busiest helicopter traffic areas in the country? Did we also mention that MANY of our alumni fly there as a first real gig? Anyway…I digress…)
This contract? Provide wide-shot camera coverage for the live tv broadcast and still photos of the air race, and shuttle Red Bull Air Race pilots from the operational base airport to the air race course in New York Harbor.
Anyway Red Bull, in addition to being a high energy drink, happens to have the only commercial aerobatic helicopter in the U.S. right now. Yeah…you know, Chuck Aaron? The crazy helo pilot that does the loops?
As you might expect, we don’t practice that maneuver during training (but then again, no one does…the rotor flapping in plane causes…and the gravity-fed fuel system means…oh never mind, save that stuff for ground school but suffice it to say you need a special
helicopter and a LOT of experience to do it..) So Chuck Aaron walks in to the red bull air race and…he hasn’t flown in the complicated airspace of New York City yet…and…he’s about to perform here. Who could take him around town in the special aerobatic BO-105 and show him the ropes? Who was trained properly from the start in helicopter operations, Class B airspace and helicopter routes? Our alumni Mike Kwas, that’s who.
As you can see in the pictures, Chuck took Mike in the BO-105 around NYC while Mike showed him the local ropes. Okay, he didn’t do a loop, but he didn’t vomit all over Chuck’s baby either….still if you look closely, you’ll see his hands on the controls of the only commercial aerobatic helicopter in the U.S.! Later, Mike flew one of only two helicopters authorized to fly inside the air race flight restrictions to capture photos of the race like this!
And to think it all started at Northeast?!
Nice work Mike…but keep ’em upright!