Pilot Profile: Andrew Demarco

“Flying has taken me places I might have never gone to otherwise, and I might never get the chance to go back. You get to meet locals, get to know their cultures and it really opens your eyes to the different ways in which people live all across our country… it’s incredible.”

Andrew Demarco was born for this career. His grandfather had roots in the Air Force and was in the Navy so flying has always been in his blood. Andrew works for Custom Helicopters in Manitoba, taking him to places he never thought possible, meeting so many people and making long-lasting connections that will last throughout his career, and beyond.

Andrew began his education in the maintenance program at Canadore College soon realizing it wasn’t for him. “I’m more of a hands-on learner than a bookworm… I talked to a close professor at the time and told him I think I want to fly aircraft, not fix them”.  After hearing more about the helicopter lifestyle and the training programs offered, he knew which direction he was headed: up. 

Since Andrew was already a student at Canadore, it was easy to make the switch to their flight training program (through Essential Helicopters, now Helicopters Canada). The intimacy of the small group of staff and students at Essential was ideal for Andrew without losing the resources of the college campus and class structure. It was notable that the Chief Flight Instructor (CFI) was also his flight test examiner – a huge advantage since he knew who he would be flying with and what they were looking for to pass the test.

Some of the coolest parts of his training, other than flying? The Underwater Egress and Winter Survival courses. Not only was the training unique and often exhilarating, it has been incredibly beneficial for him, giving him a competitive advantage and widening his job prospects. 

Since Andrew prefers his hands on the controls, and not on the textbooks, staying focused through studying for ground school was one of his biggest challenges. Through determination and his passion for flying, Andrew graduated in 2016 and started his career working for Apex Helicopters. Getting his Jet Ranger endorsement opened up a lot of flying positions in Jet Rangers and Long Rangers and now Andrew works for Custom Helicopters in Manitoba; a premium helicopter company offering diverse services throughout Canada.

10,000 feet above the Canadian Rocky Mountains
10,000 feet above the Canadian Rocky Mountains

Some of Andrew’s heli-highlights include seeing a lot of Canada’s North, working in the Arctic Circle, flying for First Nations Reserves, and most importantly, the connections he has made and the people he has served. 

The relationships that I have developed in some of these communities have been so strong that when some ask me when I’m coming back they actually consider it coming home.”As for advice for future students, Andrew says to do your research. Get in contact with friends or family with any aviation background and listen to their advice and experience… That’s what I did. After that, dive deeper and  talk to lots of flight schools to see what they have to offer. Find a company or pilot that inspires you and follow them on social media and visit their websites. If you’re getting into the helicopter industry absolutely use YouTube and social media to your advantage to see where other pilots are flying and what they do on the job to give yourself direction.

Heading home for the night after a day of winter flying. Aircraft: Bell 206 Long Ranger