I’m Chris and I’m the pilot on the Bunbury rescue helicopter. I’ve been flying helicopters for over 15 years.
I started my first job as a flight instructor in New Zealand before moving to Australia. The Bell 412 helicopter has been used by DFES for the last 15 years and it’s a tried and trusted workhorse. So this position here is the captain’s seat. These are the controls in front of me. This is called the sideclick, and the sideclick controls the position of where the helicopter moves. This control here is called the collective and it controls the amount of thrust that we produce, which makes us go up or down but it will also affect the speed that we fly at. Down here, these are the pedals So our feet are on the pedals while we’re flying and that controls the direction that the helicopter points in. These controls here that you see in front of me these are the navigation instruments. They help us work out our position and also things like our air speed and the height that the aircraft is at, or our altitude. These gauges here give me information on the engines such as how much power that the engines are producing and also the state of the oil systems. We have a warning panel here, and that gives us general warnings for if we have any issues. From there we used standardised procedures to safely recover. So this aircraft is configured, as I mentioned earlier, for IFR flight which means we can fly in cloud just like a Qantas aeroplane and can do so safely. This aircraft is also equipped with a FLIR and night sign which is a very bright light under the aircraft and we use invis technology which is basically night vision goggles. Those goggles enhance light and enable us to see much better at night than you’d normally be able to see with the naked eye. So this aircraft is a twin-engine turbine aircraft so what it does is it enables us to have redundancy. The things that appeal to me about this job is I’m able to use my skill set in a way that really helps people, particularly the community in the South West. People are saved by getting to Royal Perth Hospital within a decent time frame and that makes the job much, much better for me than other flying jobs. I wouldn’t do anything else, I absolutely love it.