Aid pilot Andrew Shipton – our helicopter pilot! Posted February 10, 2013 by Adrian Nance

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Aid pilot Andrew Shipton is a fantastic part of our team.  He was our pilot for our 2013 flood response.

Andrew Shipton is a current air transport pilot (the highest grade of commercial helicopter pilot) with over 2000 hrs of flying experience.  He flew alongside our pilot Bob Gillan and Matthias Reutter from Mercy Air in the 2007 floods.

Andrew Shipton’s background as an aid pilot

  • He has experience as a mining survey pilot across Africa. We need survey experience in disaster response.
  • Andrew also has experience as a pilot of fire fighting helicopters.  Under-slung load work is a key part of delivering aid.  We need that when there is no place to land.
  • In addition, he has experience of aid cargo work.  Some of the aid is cargo – either food or ‘non-food items’.  ‘Non food items’ are things like cooking equipment, shelter, and sanitation items.  The needs may be so great that people swamp the helicopter and get into danger from the rotors and engine intakes.
  • Andrew flew the Minister of the Interior of Mozambique. He is experienced in helping VIP passengers.
  • And Andrew has a lot of experience of African  weather.  Aid pilots need to read the local weather and make tough decisions.

The non-flying skills of an aid pilot

There are all sorts of skills needed to be an effective aid pilot, and aid pilots need to change safely between one role and another.

But there is more!

  • Aid pilots need to be trustworthy.  There are many vulnerable people in disaster affected areas.
  • They also need to be emotionally resilient.  There are many things in disaster zones that are not for the faint-hearted.
  • Additionally aid pilots need to be flexible.  Things are often not predictable in disasters.

These are highly practical management skills and they help all involved get the right aid to the right people.  They also save lives.  Good aid pilots are very valuable.

Andrew Shipton is a great part of our team.