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Notes from Heli-Expo 2019

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After descending into what seemed like the depths of Hades, we finally got down to the exhibit floor. It was pretty well-attended, although it was an older crowd than I expected. Not too many young people. And no music! What's up with that? As far as exhibitors, all the usual suspects were there in two giant halls. Walk? Dang, I should have worn more comfortable shoes. Rumor was that Matty Z had already fled the scene, going back up to NYC where it's friggin' WARMER than here in Atlanta. Chuck Aaron got up on stage, whipped it out (his notes) and gave a speech on what a big...mustache...he has. Afterward I got him to sign my arm in magic marker. I think he actually wrote "Justin Bieber" though. I don't know, I was pretty drunk by then (drat that free beer!). But it's gone now because I took a shower when I got home and inadvertently washed it off. Oh well.

Didn't get to meet Lyn - maybe today. Did get to meet some pretty cool pilots though, some of which I'd only "spoken" to online.

Blackhawk Row was interesting! Plenty of 'em although it appeared that there was an empty parking space for one more. Hmm, wonder what happened to it. Blackhawk down? I'm stumped!

Reports were that some operators were actively and aggressively recruiting pilots - any warm body with a CPL was fair game. One operator's rep was standing outside their booth, giving a spiel like a used-car salesman, "Come on over! If you've got a license, we've got a job for you!" Well, young pilots, not 63 year-old me. "Move along, old man!" the car salesman said. "Let me talk to that young buck behind you." I turned around only to see a 62 year-old guy behind me. There was an airline booth there too, recruiting helo pilots with offers of sign-on bonuses and free toasters. The helicopter operators were shunning them and mean-mugging them like crazy. I heard one operator yell at them, "Go home, n-word!" Which was pretty harsh. I guess there's some animosity there!

Bell Helicopter had a big display. Almost all their stuff was there - no 525 or 609 though (which I know, is technically not a Bell Helicopter product anymore). There was a huge screen with a video of their CGI overgrown quadcopter zooming around some city, in and among the skyscrapers, but never landing or taking off. Very impressive! I asked the girl at the counter where such a thing would land? She said, "Rooftops." And I went, "Oooooh, that might be tough in some cities." And she just winced and nodded but did not say anything. These drones are a pipe dream, man. The 505 was there, meh, about what I expected...either a big 206B or a small 206L. On one 505, the paint on the external tailboom attach bolts was worn almost all off, indicating that the tailboom had been off one (or more) times. Bell should leave stuff like that unpainted.

Finally, we were drinking in a bar after the show. Someone suggested we go crash the Robertson Helicopter after-party. Someone else said, "We don't have to crash it, it'll crash itself!" Which was pretty funny and I wish I'd thought of it. We all laughed.

And I have two more days of this? I may just go today and then bag it. Having the show here in Atlanta was probably a mistake. Next year, I suggest they have it in some place more fun (and warmer!). Like California. I'll speak to Matty Z about it.

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  • 2 weeks later...

As Willie Nelson recently sang, "I woke up still not dead again today."

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