Chinook heli, crew happy to be here

Fire authorities ready to fight fires from the air
WEB chinook 13 pe c7 20180124
ON CALL: Conor Whitehead (right), the pilot of the grand Chinook helicopter on stand-by at Wangaratta Airport, spends his days waiting for the call up to offer aerial support for any major fires in the region and beyond. He is pictured with the chopper’s mechanic Jeremy Sizemore. PHOTO: Steve Kelly

A US Army pilot who flew missions in Iraq is keeping watch on the North East region in case a large-scale fire starts this summer.

His weapon is a Boeing DH47 D Model Chinook Helicopter capable of dumping 7600 litres of water, retardant or foam on a fire in support of ground force fire crews.

The pilot Conor Whitehead is very familiar with the aircraft as he flew Chinooks during his 10 years of service in the US Army, flying cargo and soldiers.

He’s had a passion for helicopters since he was a little boy living up in the mountains with his family relying on choppers to bring his family food and water.

He joined the army and became a pilot and has been flying as a private pilot for the past eight years.

“It’s a different kind of job (to the Army) but it’s a great team environment, it’s a great aircraft with a lot of redundancy, it’s a safe aircraft and you can get a lot of good work done,” he told the Wangaratta Chronicle.

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