It never ceases to amaze me how frequently two aircraft, with so much airspace available, can converge and require a course/altitude adjustment to prevent collision. As pilots we have to maintain vigilance in scanning for traffic. While Traffic Collision Avoidance Systems (TCAS) and verbal traffic alerts from controllers help, they don’t replace the need to visually scan. At uncontrolled/non-towered airports this becomes even more vital as there are no controllers to help you, and inexperienced and/or poorly-trained pilots are drawn to these locations.
You recently received your Commercial Pilot Certificate for Rotorcraft-Helicopter and have arrived via taxicab at Thief River Falls Regional Airport (KTVF). It’s 1300Z and you’re going to pickup and ferry a helicopter to another airport about 300nm away. Looking at the Sectional Chart, you see that the airport is not towered.
A Gold Seal on a Certified Flight Instructor’s (CFI) certificate indicates that they have a high level of personal qualifications and good records as an active CFI. There are also plenty of great instructors without a Gold Seal, either because they never applied for one or simply don’t have enough students taking check rides within the specified time period. No special privileges come with this added seal, but it does renew your CFI certificate for an additional two years when obtained.
This is the first in a series of articles on different helicopter career fields.
Growing up I remember driving by a Bell 206 sitting on the ramp with the local news station’s logo covering half the helicopter on the way to the terminal to pickup my dad from a business trip. I thought it was pretty cool and asked myself “How do I become a helicopter news pilot?” At that time, I had no idea I would actually become a pilot, much less a news helicopter pilot at some point in my career. I ended up flying that gig for a few years before moving on, earning a pretty good salary.