Heavy Lift Helicopters, Inc. - Helicopter Association International


Heavy Lift Helicopters, Inc. - Helicopter Association International

Heavy Lift Helicopters, Inc.

The Future Looks Bright

by Martin J. Pociask

Heavy Lift Skycrane salvages a 38-foot sailboat that had

run aground on rocks, near the Golden Gate Bridge.

Photo courtesy of Heavy Lift Helicopters, Inc.

Apple Valley, California is

strategically located 80 miles

northeast of the Los Angeles

metropolitan area, and 50 miles north of

San Diego. Apple Valley and its 62,000

citizens, who reside within the 78 square

miles that they call home, enjoy a

remarkable 350 days of sunshine each year.

The location provides a perfect setting for

helicopter operations by Helicopter

Association International (HAI) member,

Heavy Lift Helicopters, Inc. The company

supplies professional services to the

government and private industry. Heavy

Lift Helicopters specializes in fire

suppression for government agencies and

external operations for industry. Heavy Lift

has been a member of HAI since the

company was established in 1993.

The owners, officers, and managers of

Heavy Lift Helicopters have a strong

background in fire suppression applications,

aviation support to government operations,

and external cargo, and they have a long

history of association with, and service to

HAI. The President of Heavy Lift is Harry

Rogers, who also founded Rogers

Helicopters of Fresno, California. He has

been an active participant in the

development of the helicopter industry for

over 40 years. Wanda Rogers is the Vice

President of the company and sits on the

board of directors of several large firms,

including Kaman Helicopters. She was

President of HAI in 1986. Robin Rogers is

the Secretary of the company and is a past

Chairman of the Government Contracting

Committee of HAI. L. "Pat" Patterson is

CEO, General Manager, and past owner of

Continental Helicopters. Pat was President

of HAI in 1983.

The company's bread and butter work

includes fire suppression, where Heavy Lift

20 Summer 2005

has worked with the United States

Forest Service (USFS) for many

seasons, providing support with

Sikorsky CH54A Skycranes

equipped as Helitankers. The

company has the ability to mobilize

and respond to wildfires anywhere

on the North American continent.

Another important focus of the

company is their construction and

utility work. The use of helicopters

as aerial cranes presents numerous

challenges. Each lift job is unique

and requires job-specific

assessments and techniques to

accomplish the mission safely and

efficiently. Sales personnel, pilots,

and engineers work closely with

customers to meet their individual


Heavy Lift, which is

appropriately named, uses CH54s

for aerial crane projects. The

airframe was specifically designed

by the Sikorsky factory to meet

external lift requirements. In many

cases, helicopter lift applications are

safer, less expensive than

conventional lift methods, and they

are capable of conducting a wider

range of construction and lift

operations, than the fixed-lift

operations, which are limited by

lack of mobility. The company's

experience and capabilities enable it

to give professional advice, and to

perform precise execution in its

many heavy lift missions.

The pilots and maintenance

technicians of Heavy Lift are some

of the most experienced helicopter

crews in the industry. Many have

military experience. Some in the

Korean War, as well as Vietnam,

with over 30 years experience flying

helicopters. Each of them has flight

time totaling between 15,000 and

20,000 hours. Add to that high level

of experience, 11 years of fire

suppression missions, and you have

the nucleus of a very professional

operation. Such experienced

personnel help to establish the

foundation for a great training

program that enables the company

to pass on this experience to their

new employees.

Mike Gilpin is the company

Chief Pilot, and he brings many

years of military instructor

experience and precision external

load flying to the organization. The

Chief of Maintenance is Richard

Proctor, a maintenance specialist

retired from the U.S. Air Force. Copilot

positions are filled with

talented pilots that are being

nurtured to fill a command seat.

They are learning the aircraft and

its systems, as well as other skills,

such as customer relations, fire

suppression, construction, logging,

and specific missions unique to the

heavy lift and external lift


Heavy Lift's fleet of aircraft

Photos courtesy of Mark Fisher

Roger’s Main Office at Fresno

Yosemite International Airport.

View of the flightline

at Rogers Helicopters

includes the CH54A and newly

acquired CH53D aircraft. Three

Heavy Lift CH54A aircraft are

currently on contract with the U.S.

Forest Service in California and

Arizona. They are configured with

a self-filling, 2,600-gallon external

tank, that can carry a payload of up

to 20,000 pounds. The tank can be

filled from a water source as

shallow as 18 inches, in less than a

minute. The aircraft was originally

designed and built by Sikorsky

Aircraft. They are redesigned and

rebuilt under FAA TCDS (Type

Certificate Data Sheet) Number

H16NM and certificated for civil use

in the Restricted Category.

Operations are authorized by the

FAA under FAR Part 133 and Part

137. This Type Certificate is

exclusive to the aircraft operated by

Heavy Lift Helicopters, Inc.

The CH53D aircraft are newly

acquired from excess Navy

equipment for humanitarian

purposes and are in the process of

certification and conversion to meet

the fire suppression mission. The

fleet of CH54s will continue to have

a firefighting role, but will also be

more readily available for timely

scheduling for heavy lift

construction projects.

As holder of an FAA Repair

Station certificate, Heavy Lift

Helicopters is able to maintain and

support it's unique fleet of Sikorsky

CH54A Skycranes. A new and wellequipped

service center has been

constructed in the dry and aircraft

friendly climate of the high

California desert. Heavy Lift

facilities include an FAA-approved

Certificated Repair Station, and

houses component and engine

overhaul and repair facilities. Their

parts supply warehouse is equipped

with millions of dollars worth of

spare engines, components, and


Skilled maintenance staff helps

to keep the company's aircraft in

excellent condition. The experience

and lessons they have learned,

combine to form many of their

maintenance policies and

procedures. The aircraft crew chiefs

have spent many seasons in the field

supporting the company's aircraft.

Their leadership position enables

them to coordinate their crew's

efforts and to groom the crew chiefs

of tomorrow.

The company plans to slowly and

carefully expand its capabilities in

the industrial market. It is expected

that this expansion will strengthen

the company's maintenance support

capabilities, both internally, and to

support other operators.

There is more. Heavy Lift's

parent company is Rogers

Helicopters, an HAI member since

Summer 2005


1972, and one of the largest

helicopter operators in California.

The company has been in business

for more than 42 years. The

company headquarters and main

maintenance facility are located at

the Fresno Yosemite International

Airport (FAT). Additional facilities

are located at their Clovis,

California heliport, Angels Camp,

and of course, Apple Valley. The

city of Clovis is located near the

foothills of the Sierra Nevada, a

short drive to Yosemite and Sequoia

National parks, and just minutes to


Rogers was established in 1962

by Harry and Wanda Rogers, and

the company operates a fleet of 24

helicopters that includes seven Bell

212s, one Agusta 109 K2, a Super

UH1B, several light Bell

helicopters, two Twinstars, and an

Astar. Rogers Helicopters also

operates six fixed-wing aircraft (two

Turbo Commanders, a Piper

Navajo, a Beech Bonanza, a Cessna

210, and a King Air A100). The

company is an authorized service

Flightline ramp at Rogers Helicopters.

Photos courtesy of Mark Fisher

Rogers Helicopters ramp with an

Agusta 109 EMS aircraft at the ready.

Heavy Lift’s CH53D on the ramp at Southern California International Airport.

Heavy Lift helicopter battling flames at the old fire in Devore, California.

Photo courtesy of the San Bernadino Sun.

22 Summer 2005

center for Bell-Textron, American

Eurocopter, and McDonnell

Douglas. They are also an FAA Part

145 Approved Repair Station. The

in-house maintenance they provide

includes airframe repair and

alteration, system design, and

installation. Records are kept

through a computerized

maintenance tracking system, and

computerized technical data and

reports systems. The company has

24,800 square feet of hangar space

at its Fresno facility.

Rogers provides on-demand

helicopter and airplane charters,

maintenance, and logistical support

to companies throughout the United

States, Canada, and Mexico. The

company has supported fire

suppression contracts with the U.S.

Forest Service, for many years and

has provided continuous service to

the U.S. Park Service, Office of Air

Services, Bureau of Land

Management, National Park

Service, California Department of

Forestry, and private industry

clients. Other services Rogers

provides include Emergency

Medical Services (EMS), Air

Carrier Part 135 operations,

agricultural spraying and seeding

(Part 137), external load operations

(Part 133), aerial construction,

aerial photography, external long

line operations, government

contracting, offshore operations,

utility contracts, powerline patrol,

executive transport, and helicopter

tour operations. The company also

has had a long association with

Pacific Gas & Electric (PG& E) of

Central California.

The future looks bright.

Management and employees are

excited about plans for the company

to expand its capabilities in the

industrial market. Heavy Lift also

believes that it has the opportunity,

with the configuration and

development of the CH53D

airframe, to build the fire

suppression platform of the future.

Martin J. Pociask is director of communications

for HAI.

“Your Own...Hotline...”

Continued from page 6

Congressional outreach and

lobbying effort. HAI's legislative

team regularly works the halls of

Congress, establishing and

educating contacts, working with

committee staff, and building

coalitions to promote the

helicopter industry, improve

safety, and to derail misguided or

overly restrictive initiatives which

could possibly limit the potential

of future helicopter operations.

As a result, HAI has been an

effective and respected voice for

the helicopter community on

Capitol Hill.

Your letter can make HAI's

efforts even more effective.

Every time you write a letter to

your representatives in Congress

(especially if you share a copy of

your letter with HAI's Director

of Legislation, Ann Carroll, so

that the HAI legislative team can

follow up on it), you make that

voice a little stronger.

Every time you write a letter, you

open another door for the HAI

legislative team to establish a

new contact or strengthen an

existing relationship in a

Congressional office. Every time

you write a letter—concise,

timely, and well reasoned—you

help boost the credibility and

effectiveness of HAI's legislative

efforts. It is a simple fact of life

that legislators pay more

attention to representatives of a

trade association, like HAI, when

they have evidence in hand such

as a persuasive letter, that they

have a real, live constituent —

and voter—back home who cares

about the issue.

So, follow Congressman

Udall's advice. Write to your

representatives in Congress. It

can definitely make a difference.

David York is vice president of

operations for HAI.

Summer 2005


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