February 3, 2021
When wildfires are at their worst, as they have been in recent years, there are few more potent weapons than the giant orange dragonfly that is the Erickson S-64 Air Crane.
Erickson bought the manufacturing rights to the S-64 Sky Crane from Sikorsky in 1992, changed the name to Air Crane and has been building, operating and improving the 70-foot-long (21 meter) bus-faced heavy lift helicopter ever since.
S-64 pilot and training captain Keith Gill joins Rotor Radio to discuss the unique helicopter’s firefighting superpowers. Flying for Oregon-based Erickson, Gill has followed the fire season around the globe from Australia to Greece to the western U.S. most years for the better part of four decades.
December 7, 2020
Washington, D.C., is covered by some of the most restricted airspace in the world, but that doesn't prevent dozens of government agencies, the military, police, hospitals and other operators from flying helicopters over the U.S. capital.
On any given morning, D.C.-area residents running, biking or walking their dogs along the Potomac River are treated to (or tormented by, depending on one's point of view) to helicopters flying the route into and out of the city.
On the 10th episode of Rotor Radio, Andrew Logan, founder of the Twitter handle @HelicoptersofDC, joins us to discuss all that chopper traffic and the data-gathering game he's developed to keep track of it all. He's now got more than 8,600 rotorcraft-rapt followers.
Dozens of D.C.-area residents, many of them stuck gazing out of their home windows for months on end, regularly participate in "copterspotting." They spot Air Force UH-1s, Department of Energy Bell 412s, Presidential VH-3Ds and other models. Using their phones, they snap photos or take video, then upload to Twitter using the hashtag #copterspotter and the helicopter emoji, then tag a geographical location.
It's a game, citizen journalism and a crowd-sourced data gathering effort all in one. Logan has plans to plug the data into an algorithm that could eventually ID helicopter models automatically, but for now it's all good fun.
November 17, 2020
Billions of dollars worth of private capital investment is flowing into the development of electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft, spurred in large part by the futuristic, Jetsons-like vision of air taxis moving people around heavily congested cities. How much realism is there to this vision, and what other, perhaps more likely, applications will we see for these eVTOLs?
Brian Garrett-Glaser, managing editor of Vertical's sister publication eVTOL.com joins Rotor Radio to discuss air taxis, the possibilities of electric propulsion, technologies emerging from the sector and how these aircraft will augment helicopters.
October 20, 2020
When, in early 2020, the world locked down in an ultimately unsuccessful effort to stem the spread of Covid-19, concern rippled through the helicopter industry that pilot training would be limited or even impossible.
Navigating the resulting maze of mandated travel restrictions at all levels of government, Oregon-based Hillsboro Aero Academy and other flight schools initially shut down but shortly resumed operation as an essential business, feeding new pilots into an aviation sector that was short on trained flyers before the pandemic began.
Jared Friend, general manager of the helicopter school at Hillsboro Aero Academy, joined Rotor Radio to discuss the challenges the novel coronavirus has presented pilot trainees and instructors and what the future of pilot training may look like on the other side of Covid.
September 21, 2020
Don Grove, Bell's chief tiltrotor test pilot and lead test pilot for the V-280 Valor, and Frank Lazzara, director of V-280 sales and strategy, join Rotor Radio to answer listener questions about the prototype aircraft that is competing to become the U.S. Army's Future Long Range Assault Aircraft and replace the venerable UH-60 Black Hawk.
August 12, 2020
Brian Diaz, the Airbus resident UH-72 Lakota guru at Fort Rucker, the Army’s Aviation Center of Excellence and its rotorcaft school, joins Rotor Radio to discuss the helicopter, its history with the Army and how it is used to train future military rotorcraft pilots.
July 22, 2020
When Shell began its Deepwater Drilling Project in Mexican Waters of the Gulf of Mexico, the company needed to contract for civilian search-and-rescue services that the country did not then offer.
In a first for Mexico, a handful of companies have joined forces to provide the first non-governmental SAR service to drilling rigs off its shores, according to Chris MacKay, owner and international operations manager for Total Response Solutions, based in New Brunswick, Canada.
TRS is contracted to provide hoist operators and rescue specialists for the venture, establishing SAR overwatch for Shell’s “Deepwater Thalassa” drilling rig through 2023. The rig is positioned about 160 nautical miles due east of the border between Mexico and Texas in western Gulf.
June 26, 2020
There are few situations more dangerous for a helicopter pilot than flying into bad weather, a fog bank or other situation with zero visibility, where the mind can literally make up feel like down and right feel like left.
Such spatial disorientation is a huge problem in the helicopter industry and may has been implicated as a factor that led to the crash in which Kobe Bryant, his teenage daughter and seven other people perished earlier this year.
On this episode of Rotor Radio, we speak to Vertical’s own resident pilot and editor Elan Head about the “terrifying” phenomenon of spatial disorientation, flying in degraded visual environments and how it can fatally trick a pilot's own senses.
June 1, 2020
Current president of the Army Aviation Association of America (Quad-A) and retired U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Jeff Schloesser joins Rotor Radio to discuss the current state of Army aviation, future vertical lift technologies and more.
Schloesser retired from service after 34 years that included commanding the 101st Airborne Division and Regional Command-East in Afghanistan and serving as assistant division commander of the 101st in Iraq. He commanded two Army Special Operations Aviation Battalions and flew with the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment, known as the Night Stalkers. Prior to military retirement, he was the Director of Army Aviation, leading the U.S. Army's $6 billion Aviation modernization and transformation plan.
Currently serving as the president of Quad-A, Schloesser's day job is executive vice president of strategic pursuits at Bell, based at the company's Advanced Vertical Lift Center outside Washington, D.C.