Our thanks to Reuben Spiring of VR Heli Academy for sending us these beautiful pictures of their aircraft engaging in external load operations work at the VR Helipark in West Palm Beach, Florida.
The VR Heliparks are specifically set up and dedicated work areas for teaching longline courses and are ideal for perfecting hook shots, cargo net lifts and all other areas of longline work.
From learning to fly with your your head out the door, looking at the load, to developing an eye for precision work, VR Heli Academy's external load work provides the training needed in three stages:
- Stage 1 — Vertical reference
- Stage 2 — Basic long line
- Stage 3 — Advanced long line
"We don't make it easy, as we want all of our students to reach a high level before they leave us," said Andy McAllister, Pt133 Chief Pilot, Ocean Helicopters/VR Heli Academy. "Our students progress from flying with various line lengths with an empty hook, to using real world equipment and flying real world missions. Our flight test at the end of the course includes landing a concrete bucket and cargo net in between one-hundred foot trees out in the bush, and also setting a utility pole into a hole that's just big enough for the pole."