Tuesday, July 31, 2012

SLCC Graduate has No Fear of Flying

Ramsay Campbell has no fear of flying. He loves it. He graduated from Salt Lake Community College as its graduate of excellence from the School of Technical Specialties. When asked how his summer after graduation is going, U.S. Veteran Campbell said, “I’m doing a whole lot of helicopter flying.”

“I’ve flown 76 hours in my first 90 days working since graduating,” he said. “I’ve had 424 landings with my clients in that time.” That alone would be enough to test the nerves of many Americans. But there's more. Campbell is doing his flying as a helicopter instructor. Teaching other people how to fly. Some of whom, when they get in the helicopter with him, it's for the first time.

There's an old adage, flying's easy, it's the landing that's tough. But for Campbell, neither caused as much anxiety as getting a job after graduation. Fortunately, he landed a job with Upper Limit Aviation right after graduation.

Teaching had always been in his long-range plans, but the opportunity came sooner than Campbell anticipated. Saying he “got lucky,” Campbell was asked on graduation day by Upper Limit Aviation’s Assistant Chief pilot if he was planning on turning in a resume. He could tell that the assistant chief was serious, so Campbell planned on sending an email message to the company’s human resources division in the next week. Two days later, Campbell returned to the company’s facilities to get his billing sheet for the last period he had completed prior to graduation. He again ran into the assistant chief pilot who this time asked if he had time for an impromptu interview. Campbell happened to have a button-down shirt in his locker. He made the interview and was hired on the spot.

Now, he’s a helicopter flight instructor. He’s currently working with three clients. His days normally begin at about 6:30 a.m. and he’s logging hundreds of hours in the air.

One of the most exciting parts of his job is working with people of very different levels. In addition to the student who had never set foot in a helicopter before, another student came to Campbell and Upper Limit with a good deal of flight experience—he’s already passed his private check exam, earning him a license to fly.  “Getting them ready to go solo without an instructor is a very rewarding part of the job. They’ve got to be ready and it can be nerve-wracking if they’re not completely prepared.”

Campbell can relate to the pressure. In addition to training students with Upper Limit Aviation, Campbell has continued to work with Salt Lake Community College’s Veterans Services. Campbell sets up and staffs information booths to promote the Veterans Services and Upper Limit Aviation. At one event at Hill Air Force Base in Ogden, Utah, Campbell flew a very small two-seat helicopter to be a part of the display at a massively attended air show.

“When I started to take off, there were a lot of people there. Maybe 300 people were watching, wondering if this little helicopter—it’s about the size of a go-cart—could get off the ground. I think they were waiting for me to crash.” Fortunately, he took off—and landed—successfully.

He’s also been successful in helping veterans. “Lots of veterans want to fly. It’s great working with the transition assistance program to make sure they get what they need to get into the program,” Campbell said. While he is already familiar with many aspects of the program and the benefits available to veterans, he’s working to learn all he can about all of the federal programs out there for veterans who have different situations than he did.
“I love working with Veterans Services,” he said. “They did so much to help me get into this career and provided me with so many opportunities, it’s nice to be able to give back to make sure veterans can take full advantage of the benefits they’ve earned.”

Asked what’s next, Campbell mentions that he wants to continue to learn and to teach. “There are so many opportunities out there. There’s a lot of room for me to advance in my career. What I want to do next is to keep teaching—get a few more students. Then, I want to get my CFII rating so that I can teach double instrument courses.” That means more take-offs, and an equal number of successful landings.