Meet Paradise Helicopter Pilot, Freddy
Q&A with Paradise Helicopters Pilot, Freddy
Where are you from?
- I was born in Yosemite Valley, California into a Park Ranger family. We eventually moved to the L.A area where I went to school but spent 4 months of the year in Tuolumne Meadows, Yosemite growing up.
- I really enjoy outdoor sports such as Paddle board surfing, hiking, snow skiing and of course flying.
Why did you become a pilot?
- As a kid I watched my dad and the other park rangers in Yosemite fly off in helicopters to perform rescue missions and I always wanted to be a part of those operations as the pilot. I knew the Air Force was the best Armed Service to fly rescue helicopters so I joined. I started off training in civilian airplanes and helicopters before I left to join the Air Force. Once in the military I was fortunate to be selected for Air Force Flight School where I was able to compete and earn my first choice to fly helicopters.
What’s your background in flight experience? Where did you get the bulk of your hours?
- Most of my flight experience is in the Air Force flying Rescue and Special Operations Helicopters in combat as well as flying high priority helicopter missions for VIPs in the Washington D.C. area. I am trained in both airplanes and helicopters and have also flown light civilian aircraft for over 30 years as well. Most of my flight time was flying Bell 212 Huey helicopters serving in rescue and training squadrons. Additionally, I flew the very capable MH-53 Pavelow Special Ops helicopter in the country of Iraq during two combat deployments. I was also fortunate to fly Russian Mi-17 combat helicopters in Afghanistan where I trained Afghan pilots on combat tactics as an Air Advisor.
What is your favorite tour to fly and why?
- On Oahu, flying the Circle Island experience with a landing at the famous Epic landing zone is my all-time favorite. I really enjoy the vastly different aspects of that tour…from flying over the USS Arizona to cruising down Waikiki Beach, then getting to the Windward side where the green Pali cliffs meet to turquoise blue waters is just gorgeous. Then landing on the tiny mountain ridgeline above Kualoa and flying slow by Sacred Falls is as cool as it gets.
What’s your favorite place to eat in Hawai’i?
- I would say going to the Oahu Kailua Town Thursday evening outdoor market and getting a Honolulu Burger Co. Big island beef burger on a Taro bun is dee-lish! In Honolulu, Machete’s Mean sandwiches are the absolute best!!
Is there a flight you’ve done that sticks out to you as a favorite?
- I would say flying rescue missions in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina in 2005. I flew an Air Force MH-53 helicopter into New Orleans and over a three day period we airlifted over 1,100 stranded residents to safety. We landed on Interstate 10 as well as the Superdome to pick up folks that were essentially trapped on “islands” inside the city. One flight I counted over 50 people on board our helicopter as we lifted off the convention center parking lot!