While only about 5% of all pilots in the U.S. fly helicopters, the men and women who do it for a living represent a truly a unique breed of aviator. They're out there in all kinds of weather, transporting sick and injured people to the hospital, landing on floating oil rigs, hovering over accident scenes with TV news cameras rolling, and patrolling utility lines over unforgiving terrain. Learning to fly helicopters isn't easy, and becoming a commercial helicopter pilot is even tougher. Which is one of the reasons we've taken such great interest recently in the fate of the more than 2,500 trainees who were displaced when Silver State Helicopters filed for bankruptcy earlier this month.
To get a better sense of what's going on in the helicopter industry, AVweb's Meredith Saini spoke with Butch Grafton, president of the Professional Helicopter Pilots Association. The association represents 6,000 helicopter pilots worldwide.