5 minutes to read
Pilot Story #2
Every Monday a new story!
This week we have the honor to interview Nick Kanellos from Greece, a pilot that chased his dream 5830 miles away from home! Helicopter pilot, father, instructor and an awesome paradigm for the upcoming pilots! Follow us on this adventure!
So Nikos, tell us about how it all started, your dream as a child and how you made it up to here?
Hi to all the friends of enjoyflying.net and the idea of aviation in general!
From a young age, my love for flying was profound. Born and raised in Piraeus, Greece my journey to aviation was diverse but always towards a common goal. Upon graduating with a Bachelors Degree in Aircraft Engineering, I was called to serve in the Hellenic Armed Forces as a tank driver in 2008. After a lot of effort, I managed to transfer to the Hellenic Air Force with the ambition to specialize as a propeller/rotor driven aircraft mechanic.
My effort and ambition paid off as I found myself assigned to the 112 Battle Wing, Helicopter Maintenance Squadron, CSAR AS332C1 Super Puma Fleet, as a reserve Sergeant.
That was one of the best experiences in my life and my career. I worked next to people that I always admired, whose dedication and call of duty stand high in their heart and mind.
I was dismissed from my duties in September 2009 and 2 weeks later I was on a B767 en route to Titusville FL, USA – home of the world’s largest civilian helicopter training facility, Bristow Academy.
Here is where my dream of becoming a pilot really took off.
Through hard work and perseverance, I became certified as a FAA Commercial Pilot, Certified Flight Instructor (CFI) and Instrument Flight Instructor (CFII).
I got hired by Bristow Academy as a Flight Instructor.
I worked with S300C/Cb/Cbi, R22 Beta 1&2, R44 Raven 1&2 on FAA VFR and IFR standards, and the Bell 206 Jet Ranger
under a military contract for the United Arab Emirates Armed Forces on VFR / IFR / Tactics of War and NVGs. I enjoyed flight instruction, and continue to carry this enjoyment throughout my flying career.
My diverse instructing experience gave me the opportunity to move into the Helicopter Emergency Medical Services (HEMS) world flying the AW109E, as a Single Pilot IFR (SPIFR). I became Training Captain for Keystone Med-Flight, Mid-Atlantic Medevac program in south NJ and East PA.
I loved every single second of my flight hours as an instructor and I still maintain the privileges.
What type of helicopter do you fly and for which company?
Today I’m an Airline Transport Pilot (ATP) certified, HEMS SPIFR Safety Officer for Med-Trans Corp, in the Oldest City of the USA, Saint Augustine Florida operating an EC135P2+ (Now Airbus Helicopters), Trauma 1, University of Florida Program.
I also hold EASA ATPL(H) and FAA private pilot with IFR privileges for Single Engine Airplane Land.
Have you experienced any type of emergency that you want to share?
Throughout my career, so far, I’ve experienced several emergencies on board an aircraft, airplane, and Helicopter. Some of them more serious than others but I always managed to land safely with no further incidents.
There is only one that I will never forget and it’s not mine.
It is Jessica’s, my wife and fellow pilot. I witnessed her taking off, went back to my duties to find out minutes later that she had a catastrophic engine failure in a S300Cbi from 400 feet AGL on crosswind, and after a successful autorotation and negotiation with powerlines, she put the aircraft down along the highway. She was 6 months pregnant at the time with our first boy. She is a tough cookie and walked out of it without even a scratch on her, no harm to the baby, and no harm to the student she was flying with.
Your plans for the future?
My future goals include as much family time as I can. Raising our two boys with my wife is a wonderful experience. Career wise we will be focusing on the creation of a team of specialized in helicopter solutions and advanced training professionals.
People that you want to thank or inspired you?
At this point I would like to thank with all my heart those who have supported me knowingly or not, to achieve my goals so far; My wife and our two little boys, because they know how important flying is, regardless the risk; My parents and my sister, who have been there for me since the beginning..
To my Mentors / Instructors: Mr. Mamalis Panagiotis and Mr. Konstantinos Revithis because for me they have been the example to follow. To Mr. Eytyxios Kleinakis and Mr. Georgios Seretis and all my friends in the HMS of the 112 BW in Eleusis, because they were next to me and never doubt that dreams can come true if you are willing to work hard and study.
Giorgos, Filippos,Nikos,Hlias,Pothitos,Dimitris,Sotiris,Giannis and every one of you that I might missed their names. I respect you.
Your message to upcoming pilots?
As a message for the upcoming pilots I would like to let you know, that it’s not easy. It will never be. It needs a lot of work, self-discipline, focus, and a lot of sacrifices that you must be willing to do. It is such a rewarding feeling and such a privilege to have achieved a dream of yours; A reward that outweighs all the risks.
There is going to be a moment that you will smile and you will be the only one that knows why. And that’s what I’m talking about.
If you have more questions or you would like to exchange ideas or even some guidance for career paths feel free to contact me through Linkedin under my full name: Nikolaos Kanellos
Enjoyflying.net team, thank you so much for the opportunity you gave me to tell my story!
Well done to your new adventure.
Fly safe and always look up!
Thank you all!