Where do Valhalla pilots work when the temperatures drop?
Well, some of us fly south for the winter.
At our Down Under branch, Valhalla Helicopters PTY, Operations Manager (and pilot extraordinaire) Joanna Murphy oversees a team of talented pilots who are working tirelessly to combat the devastating Australian bushfires that rage throughout the summer, there.
Valhalla’s pilots (in both hemispheres) are experts in forest fire suppression. With our state-of-the-art equipment and top-level training, we maintain a busy schedule of firefighting across the globe and throughout the year. From October-March, that means doing our utmost to help battle the blazes across Australia.
This is our 9th year working through the hot, dry summers from our hangar in New South Wales. Each year in September, our Okanagan helicopter engineers disassemble three specialized aircraft and send them on a month-long boat ride down to the land of Oz (maybe next year we’ll pack ourselves up for a 28 day Pacific cruise. Sounds nice! Maybe not on a cargo ship, though…). The expert crew on the other end puts the helis back together in time to be ready to go for the bushfire season. And you thought putting that flat-pack bookcase together was tough!
Our multinational pilots, mechanics and engineers work closely with the New South Wales Rural Fire Service to suppress the fires, bring in ground-based firefighters, and aid in evacuation efforts. Just as we do here in BC, we use our belly tanks and Bambi buckets to bring water and fire retardants directly to the danger zone. Our machinery is cutting-edge, with high-capacity water tanks and new technology that can immediately convert the water into a retardant foam-like material, significantly speeding up our response time. Combined with our helicopters’ precision-delivery system, those precious seconds we shave off can mean saving hundreds of acres of wilderness and the lives of countless animals. Aerial firefighting is an incredibly effective way to control the often disastrous conflagrations that are becoming more and more common all around the world.
Our rescue operations extend as far as Tasmania and Victoria, and are not limited to fire services. Some areas in eastern Australia are prone to other extreme weather conditions, as well. Valhalla’s pilots fly into the affected regions to deliver food, clean water, and lifesaving supplies to remote towns that are vulnerable to devastating floods.
At the helm in our Shellharbour, Illawarra office is the intrepid Joanna Murphy. Feisty and fearless (like so many Australians!), Joanna is an experienced pilot and an excellent manager. She’s also a yoga instructor and a lifeline technician –a truly multitalented superhero. In an industry that tends to attract a lot of men, we’re fortunate to have Joanna as our Australian leader!