Lt Mike Kurtgis
4101 Southwest 47th Avenue, Suite 106
Phone: (954) 584-7000
Fax: (954) 584-7004
web site: www.usaairmobile.com
arrived back at Fort Lewis from where I left a year earlier, early on the
morning of July 4th 1969 (a true Freedom Celebration starting with
steak and eggs and ice cream at the chow hall.)
By 0800 I was before a Colonel who gave me an early out and by 1100 I
was out of the Army on my way home. I
then decided to go back into Aviation my first love as a Pilot before “Nam”. Under the GI Bill I was
entitled to use my education credits for college and additional flight training.
So I enrolled at Embry Riddle in
, and got a Helicopter rating added to my Commercial Airplane Pilots license.
convinced me that helicopters were safe to fly)
I went to work as a Corporate pilot for several years and ended up flying
for Florida Power and Light the local Electric Utility Company.
I flew both Helicopters and Airplanes for them, but found the work pretty
boring. Going to an airport or power
plant wait four or five hours and fly back to base. (Pretty much a glorified
Sometimes, however, I
would get to fly engineers out into the field on projects they were working on
and became interested in what they did. For
this I would fly them in the helicopter to look at mostly high voltage
transmission lines. When I saw how
the maintenance crews had to spend hours to rig a tower to climb or position a
bucket truck, I got the idea of using a helicopter to place a Lineman alongside
to work the tower or conductor. Of
course this work would have to be done with the lines energized to be exciting
enough for me. (After
life in the "real world" was pretty tame).
Well, of course, I became known as that crazy pilot in the Company and they would not
let me play with the lines using the helicopter as an employee.
So I resigned my gold watch retirement position with FPL and started my
own Company “Utilities Services of America” (dba USA Airmobile, inc.) in
1979. I successfully developed methods and procedures to use a helicopter to
work on high voltage power lines typically from 230 kV (thousand volts) to 765
kV while energized. (Yes, we energize
the helicopter too!) Really hot
stuff (pun intended). We will
celebrate our 30th year in 2009!
You can see what we do online at: www.usaairmobile.com
. We were also the subject of a
History Channel documentary “High Risk Helicopter Lineman” which some of you
may have seen on TV in 2006 and still shows occasionally.
became re-acquainted with my
history when I received a telephone call out of the blue from a woman in 2000
named Lynne Krause who turned out to be my buddy Roger Fulkerson’s (KIA Sept
25 1968 FO 2/9th with “C” 2/35th) daughter.
Her call prompted me to recall my past and the memories I thought were
buried. I wrote about Roger, me and her after the call and it is posted in
several places including this website titled “Chasing the Past until it Catches
You”. From her I learned of the 35th
Regiment "Cacti” association and eventually Dennis Dauphin who
created this site, “The Mighty Ninth” and here I am.
can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org