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In this regular look at life at work we ask individuals about their careers. Here Heidi Gaaskjenn-Rake, co-pilot on the EC225 for CHC Helicopter, talks about her passion of getting airbourne.
How long have you held this position? A little over three years
Describe your route to this job: I quickly became hooked on flying after I was taken for a ride in a Hughey helicopter whilst I was serving in the Army. I started flying in Norway in 2002 where I completed my Private Pilot License (PPL) and shortly after moved to the UK to complete my Airline Transport Pilot License (ATPL) exams at Oxford Aviation, and later sat my Instrument Rating (IR).
After passing my exams I needed to gain experience flying and so travelled to the United States where I completed my commercial license and then proceeded to take my instructor license. I decided that I wanted to inspire others to fly so got involved with teaching for a while in Florida before taking a job as a pilot for a photo company in the South of France where I flew around St Tropez taking pictures of yachts and their owners.
By the end of that year (2007), I managed to get a job with CHC thanks to my IR which meant I could fly in all weather conditions – a skill that you definitely need in Aberdeen.
When you started out what was your dream job? Some role in the air ambulance or search and rescue services.
What’s your dream job now? For the moment I am quite content with my current job but I would like to move up in the company one day or maybe in the future go for search and rescue. There are several opportunities in CHC in the training department so we will see.
What’s the best thing about your current job? The challenge of flying in the changeable North Sea weather - it can be sunny one minute and then suddenly you can find yourself in thick fog or howling winds. I also enjoy landing on a variety of platforms from decks to boats and oilrigs.
Every day is different, the routing might not be but the conditions are always varied.
What’s the worst? I think the possibility that we might end up in the water one day in the worst scenario. It can also be a little monotonous doing the same routing almost every day.
What advice would you offer to someone starting out? Be patient - the road is not going to be easy or cheap. The dream job doesn’t come right away but you will get a lot of experience in different fields before you land where you want to be.
Your first job will likely be as an instructor and then you will probably progress to more commercial work like charter of photo flying.
You might not earn a lot when you first start out which can seem disheartening for all the money spent during your training and education, but it will be worth it at the end.
Remember that you will hardly ever sit in an office. You will be doing a job which you will love and your office will be in the sky.
Anything else? Never give up. There are many people with a helicopter license but if you really want this you might need to take a winding road before you get to your goal.
You can always start by taking the PPL before you commit to it fully and take it one step at a time.
Remember that as a woman in a male dominated industry you have the added challenge to prove your abilities to some of the old fashioned military types. As long as you believe in yourself you will succeed and be able to work with them, adopting a boyish humor along the way. Overall pilots are a great bunch to work with.
WHAT’S YOUR WORK LIKE?