Pilot Annie is a CH-47 Co-Pilot currently working in Victoria, Australia. This is her third year with Coulson Aviation and her first season in Australia after a summer in the Northern hemisphere flying a Chinook.
What does a “typical” day look like?
A typical day, we show up and pre-flight the helicopter. Next, we go over weather and possible fire behavior. Also any pertinent information such as new radio or dispatch procedures, if a training or maintenance flight might be necessary, and discuss other available firefighting resources in the area that we might be working with.
If we don’t get a fire, we usually spend time staying current on aircraft and aviation knowledge. We have conference calls and safety discussions. We help maintain the helicopter. Once all that is done, everybody either finds their corner to read, watch tv or talk to family; or we all hang out together and have loud and funny group discussions. I also like to try and get some walking in close to the helicopter before it gets too hot.
What’s great about the job?
I love the spontaneity of the job. You just never know what you’re going to get from day to day. I love the people I work with and love the views from the aircraft. It’s also really satisfying to be able to make a difference putting out fires.
What makes the Chinook so good to fly?
The Chinook is a powerhouse. I remember when I flew something smaller, having to come in and drop water behind one…nd it was always a little awkward because there’s not much left to drop on after a Chinook drops. Especially on spot fires.
I’m glad I’m in it and not behind it these days. One of the other things is it’s been around for a long time and has a proven track record. It’s a stout aircraft, but flies more nimble than it looks so it can be a lot of fun.