It’s the season, at least in the U.S., when Mother Nature sends powerful reminders of her fury. During and after wildfires, floods, hurricanes and, this year, a particularly beautiful but destructive volcanic eruption, helicopters are often people’s best hope of survival.
Federal, state and local disaster relief and rescue organizations know this and have deployed a variety of specialized aircraft like the Sikorsky Firehawk to disaster areas. A trio of writers in this issue explores how rotorcraft quench flames, pluck victims from raging floodwaters, deliver emergency food aid and other supplies in places otherwise inaccessible by land or sea.
There has not been a major hurricane in the 2018 season, but should one strike — as two major storms did the Caribbean last year — helicopters of the U.S. National Guard and other federal agencies are on standby.
Wind doesn’t always blow houses down. In moderate doses, it can power them, and the emerging wind farm market is another sector where helicopters should prove useful, as they have been in the offshore oil-and-gas industry. Our report on the offshore wind power industry details this growing services market and what wind farm operators are still figuring out about how best to use rotorcraft to service remote turbines.
Remoteness is an asset rather than a challenge to overcome for Tropic Air, one of Kenya’s largest operator of fixed- and rotary-wing aircraft. Our Africa-based contributor provides another informative profile of a company grown from a single cargo plane to become a major aerial-safari provider in Kenya and the surrounding region.
Weather was not an issue when I traveled to Amarillo, Texas, to witness the first public flight of the Bell V-280 advanced tiltrotor. Over a sunlit tarmac, the futuristic aircraft demoed its dance moves, as described in my feature on the potential future of U.S. Army aviation.
Nearby in Texas, on a drizzly day that didn’t prevent takeoff, we also took Bell’s new 407GXi for a spin. In our latest pilot report, the GXi’s high-tech bells and whistles make this the most-modern version of the company’s venerable 206 line.
We appreciate your continued interest in R&WI and recognize there is more rotorcraft news than will fit into just six issues a year.
To remedy that, in just a few weeks, we launch the subscriber-exclusive R&WI Insider by way of your inbox. In the inaugural deployment, we feature the U.S. Navy's effort to replace its trainer fleet, while also highlighting a similar effort for the U.S. Air Force's UH-1 Huey replacement. There you will also find a gallery of stunning photos of East Africa that didn’t make it in the Tropic Air piece this month, video of the V-280 in flight and links to other relevant content curated by our editors.
Wishing you fair weather and clear skies. RWI