Who Am I?

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A nobody; a nitwit; a pilot; a motorcyclist; a raconteur; a lover...of life - who loves to laugh, who tries to not take myself (or anything) too seriously...just a normal guy who knows his place in the universe by being in touch with my spiritual side. What more is there?

17 October 2007

Career Progression

Pinch me! I must be dreaming.

I loved working for the FH1100 factory. It was a great opportunity. I had known about the liked the ship since I was a kid back in the 1970’s. The work I was doing was interesting and fun. And it was sad to have to leave, but life drags you in certain directions sometimes, and like the man said: When you gotta go, you gotta go.

Then I spent a fascinating year in Honduras working for Bill Pullum, a realtor/developer of some renown from Navarre, Florida. Bill is a pilot who owns two(!) FH1100’s. He keeps one in Navarre (a town near Pensacola here in the Panhandle) for his personal use, and he sent one down to Guanaja, Honduras to work in the development he’s doing down there. He needed a pilot for that ship, which is where I came in.

Bill Pullum is one of the few people on the planet for whom I would gladly take a bullet. He’s an extraordinary man, trying to help the people of an impoverished, forgotten little island out in the middle of nowhere. It doesn’t seem to bother him that these very people are ungrateful and dishonest – they use and abuse him and take every advantage of his generosity as if he had infinitely deep pockets. What Bill has in infinitely deep patience. And he takes the long view. He knows that what he is doing is good, and that it will benefit them in the future, whether they know and/or acknowledge it or not. Right now, few of them do.

I was honored to get to know Bill, his indefatigable wife Martha and their son Bart. They are good people. I had a lot of fun flying with both father and son. Bart is an incredible pilot. While he was still technically a student pilot, he and I flew the second FH1100 down to Honduras. I am not exaggerating when I say that Bart could have easily done the trip without me.

Personally, my time in Honduras was not a happy one. Sometimes a job is just not worth it no matter how much they pay you (and Bill paid me very well). Eventually I just couldn’t take it anymore. Without going into too much detail, I’ll just say that after getting to know the “locals,” I don’t care to go to Honduras ever again. Living there turned me into someone I did not want to be: a sorry-ass, cynical, angry, jaundiced and prejudiced guy whose opinion of Hondurans was extremely low. Sure, there were exceptions – but they were few and far between (Bill’s accountant Danette and Roger, the head of the local power company are the only two that spring immediately to mind).

Stories? Pffft, have I got stories! And some day I’ll write about them. Meanwhile, I’ll just keep them to myself, and if you want to read about the “real” Honduras, check out La Gringa's

When I got back to the U.S., I had wanted to take some time off. But it was not to be. Almost immediately, Bill Pullum told me I should get in touch with a guy who was looking to buy a helicopter. That led directly to my current job.

Right now, we’re flying a Bell 206B JetRanger, one of the most popular, safe and dependable helicopters ever built. Ours is a terrific example, very nice and well equipped, and extremely well-maintained. The Boss is very happy with it. He uses it for business and pleasure. He has locations spread out all over south Alabama, and Mississippi, most of which are a long drive from headquarters. The helicopter allows him incredible flexibility and maximizes his efficiency. If ever there was a guy/business made for a helicopter, this is it.

But the Boss also uses the ship for personal flights. So although I’ve had to give up a few weekends, I’ve also gotten to go see University of Alabama football games (Roll Tide!), and last weekend we went to the NASCAR race at Talladega. Where he goes, I go, which is nice. There’s also the hunting camp out in the woods (deep out in the woods!), and the beach house in Destin, Florida.

We don’t fly all that much. Most of our flights are known well in advance, although once in a while he does have a “pop-up” flight for which he gives me plenty of notice. He is extremely conservative when it comes to weather. I like that. And when we don’t fly, I’m not required to be in my office. Helicopter pilots dream about jobs like this.

So I’m very fortunate. Life just keeps getting better and better.


Redlefty said...

Cool and uplifting post, Bob! Nice guys don't always finish last, apparently.

David said...

Ditto! Live the dream my friend.

Hal Johnson said...

Great post, and good on ya. But c'mon, don't you miss those gumbo Fridays in the Gulf?

Bob Barbanes said...

Thanks, guy. ...Although I'm not sure how that "nice guys" statement applies to me, Michael. Sometimes I'm fortunate in spite of myself.

And Hal, I've been thinking a lot about the time I spent in the Gulf. I had a ton of fun working for PHI, met some wonderful people, enjoyed every day without exception. One of the great things I took away was an appreciation for spicy Cajun food! Nowadays, friends look at me like I'm from Mars when I put a big lump of potato salad in the middle of my bowl of gumbo - they just don't understand. And you just cannot make an etouffe or dirty rice "hot" enough for me. Mmmm! Wait- hold on- what are ya, trying to make me WANT to come back? Bastard!