Welcome to this edition of the NHV Employee Spotlight Feature, with the goal of shining a spotlight on the pivotal role our employees play at NHV, including; their journeys so far, and how NHV aims to create an innovative, inclusive and dynamic workforce.
Hello to Allan Skov, he is the Chief Pilot and Captain H175, based in Esbjerg, Denmark.
Before we start, can you tell us 3 Fun Facts about you:
1. I was born on a Sunday under a lucky star.
2. I am the only pilot in the world to have a rare liver disease called Wilson disease.
3. I am a playful person. My daughter said to me recently; “Dad, you are not a normal adult, because you enjoy playing like a kid” - I hope this never changes. *We hope this never changes too!*
Can you tell us a little bit about your background and who you are?
I was born in August 1985 and grew up in the countryside on the island of Fyn in Denmark. After High School I started my helicopter pilot education in Billund, Denmark, at the age of 19. Finishing this in 2007 I quickly found a job with NHV in Belgium and have been flying for them (and DanCopter) since.
I live in a small town called Vester Nebel near Kolding in Denmark, with my lovely wife Kirsten and our 3 wonderful children, Bodil (age 7), Aksel (age 4) and Erik (age 2). We have a little whitewashed house with a red tiled roof and a little garden/forest of 45.000 square meters.
What led you to pursue a career in Aviation?
I remember seeing a book in the library as a kid, with a drawing of a helicopter that was transparent, so that you could see all the wiring, cables, push-pull rods, engines, etc. and the pilot sitting in the cockpit with his hands and feet on the controls. I thought; “that looks complicated and difficult to fly, I want to learn how to do that”.
I started flying gliders and small airplanes during my spare time in High School, but I always knew that the bravest of men and women fly a helicopter.
What do you find exciting about the industry and what is something specific about your role at NHV that you love doing?
I have a constant love for what the helicopter as a flying machine can perform. When I started at NHV, I flew hoisting missions with ship pilots for the ships coming in and out of the harbour in stormy weather. It is something that is truly unique and which no other machine, except for a helicopter, is able to perform.
Later I began flying to offshore Oil and Gas platforms, jack-up drilling rigs and vessels, which is something that I really enjoy doing as well. It could be seen as driving a bus to and from the rigs, but with the complexity of the helicopter and the changing weather conditions throughout the year, I continue to find it challenging and exciting.
I especially love performing an offshore shuttle flight between several helidecks and looking at the next destination platform through the roof window, as the helicopter is in a steep banked turn at low level (within the prescribed limits of course).
I started working with NHV at the age of 22 as a Co-pilot, and at the age of 27 I became a Captain/Aircraft Commander in Denmark (DanCopter at the time). When a company like NHV has good procedures, you can fly with any other new colleague in the company and it will feel like you have flown together your whole career, because everybody is on the same page and knows what to do. I try to maintain the level of professionalism that is expected of an Aircraft Commander and which is encouraged through standard operating procedures. That said, I also believe that relying on experience is of huge value in this business and for the company. Having encountered many different scenarios definitely helps when having to make a quick decision and comes in handy when correct handling skills are required in a stressful situation.
Like all pilots know; every take-off is voluntary, but every landing is mandatory, and you cannot pause the flight once you are airborne.
Recently, I have been promoted to Chief Pilot H175 in Esbjerg. A job that requires more administrative work when not flying, but a job I approach with enthusiasm. I enjoy being responsible for certain manuals and checklists as well as having an influence on the procedures and the way the H175 is flown.
I am also a trained Pilot Peer for the base in Esbjerg, helping other colleagues with mental health issues like stress, fatigue, disappointment, etc. I find it very satisfying and important that the business, and NHV as a company, is putting more and more focus on pilot’s psychological health, which I find equally as important as physical health.
Can you tell us a bit about a favourite project or experience that you’ve had at NHV?
Travelling with NHV abroad and working in countries like Denmark, Norway, Finland, Scotland, Britain, France, Libya, Ghana, Sierra Leone and Nigeria has definitely been a great experience worth remembering.
One of the more recent projects I enjoyed a lot, was ferry flying H175s to and from Albacete in Spain across Europe. Not always an easy task to perform, but worth the memorable and adventurous flights.
How do you define success?
Success in my opinion is when the job gets done at the level that was expected.
Aviation is always about a balance between safety aspects and commercial aspects. If you want to have 100% success in safety aspects, you should not fly at all. If you want to have 100% success in commercial aspects, you should take every risk and fly all the time.
In my line of work as an Aircraft Commander, my duty is to find the right balance between those two aspects, using my colleagues and the aircraft systems to its fullest and evaluating the job at hand – a calculated risk. Flying a helicopter to a platform located far out at sea will always be a matter of calculated risk vs. success. When I finish a working day by getting the passengers safely to and from the production platforms and oil rigs, that denotes a success.
What are some of the things that you like to do, outside of work?
In my spare time I enjoy spending time with my wife and kids. I can never get enough time with them. My hobbies are outdoor hiking and hunting, forest works and wood carving, archery, building stuff, history in general, board games, and spending time with friends and relatives.
What are some words of advice you would give to others who are considering pursuing a career in Aviation?
Just go for it - if I had known then what I know now, I would never have dared to start studying to become a helicopter pilot when I was younger. It is a small business, and it is all about knowing people who know some people and performing well for all the endless amounts of tests and checks in a career as a pilot. So just go for it, and if you try hard enough and believe in your skills, I’m sure you will succeed.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
My motto is; “Keep it simple – keep it safe”. Lets stay safe and work together
Thank you Allan for the interview, one of our OG's and one of our best recruits!