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Heli Expo 2017 Overview

With Heli-Expo Dallas a week behind us, I finally had a second to download and catch up on my photographs from the event. As always it turned out to be an exciting and exhausting whirlwind week. Even more so due to the fact that in was in my hometown, and I had aircraft run-ups and general Chief Pilot duties to attend to. On top of that I got sick, and instead of recovering at home for the weekend, flew to VA to work four night shifts and train a transition pilot. With all that said, lets look at some of the highlights from the expo.

The Shamu Blackhawk was a big fan favorite, I had the chance to chat with one of the pilots who had an adventure ferrying it out to Dallas. On the way, they had an engine chip light and an entire engine was changed in AZ, they were about an hour out of Dallas as it started to get dark on Saturday night, and the weather turned IFR fast. As Love field was not allowing aircraft to fly SVFR into the convention center, they ended up at a nearby airport and trucking it in on Sunday. Well worth the effort, everyone loved the Shamu Blackhawk!

Roone McKaig gives incredible speech about transitioning from the military to Helicopter Air Ambulance for Seven Bar Aviation

On Monday I was honored to participate in the military to civilian workshop presented by Stacy Sheard and Marc Stanley. The workshop consists of speakers on topics such as building effective resumes and advice from others who have made the transition to different sectors of the civilian industry. One of our SevenBar Rotorwing pilots from ABQ NM, Roone McKaig, gave an amazing talk about making the transition into EMS. In between the sessions myself and others mentored the attendees, giving advice about our prospective fields and companies. I met some amazing people, and am encouraged about the future group of pilots coming into the civilian market place. With a massive pilot shortage on the horizon, companies want to pick the best of the best, and this is a great starting point for networking.

After the workshop, Stephen and I sneaked by security to get one last look at the set up before Tuesday's opening. The Gazelle is one of my favorite helicopters, although I have not flown in one myself, Stephen told me that it was his first helicopter ride, and what sold him on the magic of helicopter flight. This one here is the short skid model.... not really, just its transport gear....

By Tuesday morning its skids and blades were on and it was ready to be admired by all.

I could really see myself owning one of these someday!

Not one of these











\/ These two little helicopters are what I referenced in a previous blog post, where I was yelled at for photographing them before the 'big reveal'! Believe it or not, the red one is actually a two seat (tandem) helicopter that you have to be very comfortable with your flight partner before agreeing to go for a ride. Both in the aspect of flying skill and of body odor!

light single or tandem seat Cicare helicopter with Rotax engine sold in the US by DEAGA

All teasing aside, I am fascinated by these helicopters, and would love to visit their facility in Mesa, AZ one day to do a proper aircraft review. Powered by Rotax 912 or 914 engines, these little Cicare helicopters weigh between 584lbs - 617lbs single seat/ tandem seat respectively, and have a max gross weight of 948lbs -1014lbs. They cruise around 80 kts with a 104 kt Vne and a fuel endurance of 2.5 hrs. They seem to cost around $125,000 - $140,000, and there was some mention of a kit. Although my husband is still convinced that he needs a turbine HeliCycle, these are definitely an interesting addition to the tiny helicopter market.

Cicare helicopter trainer, a helicopter with training wheels so to speak

Most interesting was the fact that one of their helicopters comes as a trainer, a helicopter with training wheels...skids... This platform with an arm attached to the helicopter, allows for it to hover up to three feet and hover taxi on a flat paved surface. With skids wider than that of a Bell 429 and an instructor with an iPad controlling the mobility of the arm, it seems impossible to crash. Attached to the arm is a letter from the FAA...apparently this can count for some solo helicopter flight time.

Autorotations - reality exposed. HAI lecture on helicopter auto-rotations in Dallas Texas Heli Expo 2017 Erin Emery

After a brief wander around the showroom floor on Tuesday morning, I had to prep for a lecture that I was surprised with earlier that morning. One of our pilots from Maine was supposed to fly down to Dallas to present his real life autorotation story about an event that occurred earlier this year when one of our helicopters lost a portion of its blade. Due to travel arrangements falling through, I ended up giving the lecture in his place. The room was filled with about 200 people, and the other speakers were from the renowned ranks of Airbus, Bell, and Robinson pilots. I was incredible nervous, and basically blacked out while up on stage. I had about 5 points that I really wanted to make regarding auto rotations in multi-engine aircraft, and only probably said about an eighth of want I intended to. With that said, my co-workers and friends complimented me, and I hopefully didn't let down the pilot who actually performed the incredible task of safely landing the Agusta 109E in auto rotation. I highly recommend attending this lecture, Autorotations Reality Exposed, if ever afforded the opportunity.

The Airbus booth is always one of the sharpest at Heli - Expo. Their clean exhibits and well placed signs make photography easy. I enjoyed experimenting with my wide angle lens, although I have been criticized for allowing the effect of the wide angle to distort shapes, I like the effect that it can create.

Bell Helicopter took a cue from the auto industry, and displayed a 'concept helicopter' where visitors could sit inside wearing a augmented reality headset that took them through some technologies that Bell is developing in the not so distant future. Some of these such as fly by wire flight controls will be introduced in the Bell 525. Others such as shape shifting blades or instrument-less cockpits, may arrive in the more distant future.

Agusta, Leonardo Helicopter booth at Heli Expo 2017
Agusta flight simulation training device

Agusta helicopers....or Leonardo Helicopters as it is known now, showcased their AW119kx, AW169, and AW189.

Aside from helicopters on display, there were multiple flight training devices and simulators on the show floor to give a visitors a chance at the controls, or offering a great deal on a new training device.

Swag From Heli Expo 2017 Dallas TX

Heli-Expo is like trick or treating for adult aviation geeks. Over the two days that I attended the show, my husband and I accumulated 5 bags full of helicopter swag. My favorite items included a Columbia helicopters hat, and a pen laser engraved with my name on it.

Overall Heli-Expo 2017 was a great success. By far the best part of it is getting to catch up with old friends. I only wish I had more time to chat with everyone I know, I was so busy some people just got waves, and others I actually got a chance to hug and say hi. Although I won't officially be a part of the helicopter industry next year, I still look forward to Heli-Expo 2018 in Vegas!

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