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60 Second Interview

As part of our regular series about our staff, we talked with Johnnie Ecclestone from our Helicopter Unit. 

WPD employee standing in front of a helicopter

What’s your background? 

Having learnt to fly helicopters with the British Army, I spent four years flying in New Zealand before returning to the UK. I then spent 15 years working with many of the Police Air Support Units and Air Ambulance Units around the country before progressing to fly with the Helicopter Unit based at Bristol.

How many schemes like this one do you work on?

We have over the last few years recruited several new pilots, including myself, into the Helicopter Unit. We come from a variety of backgrounds providing a wide range of different experience to the Unit. Whilst I have conducted underslung operations in my previous roles, two of us were selected to undergo specialist load lifting training and have subsequently qualified for WPD operations, as such this was one of my first live jobs for the unit. Using the company aircraft as airborne cranes is an ability and service that we are able to provide to teams on the ground that I feel is not widely recognised.

What do you enjoy most about the job?

The people I work with. Professional, highly motivated and very good value to be around, never a dull day! 

What did your role in this scheme entail? 

I was the pilot for the lifting task at the Seaton Wetlands but, although we would like to deny it, the task would not have been able to be completed without the other members of the crew. Two of the unit’s observers, Pete Galvin and Jason Gay, ensured that the job was safe and successful on the day.

What do you like best about the role?

The variety of work we carry out, and the fact that we can be working in any part of the company, is very enjoyable. But the most gratifying part of the job is when we are able to make a real difference for the teams on the ground.

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