Being the first woman to fly offshore in Abu Dhabi does not faze Elizabeth Peebles, a helicopter pilot for Falcon Aviation Services. Here she talks about a typical day ferrying passengers.
It's an early start. I get up, get ready and go into the airport. My husband and I were flying out of Las Vegas when we heard of Falcon Aviation. We applied and got hired on when they were operating tours out of Dubai. [Then I started flying VIPs and VVIPS]. I call it "palace-hopping". We would take them from one palace to another, all in the UAE. I have seen some really beautiful places and got to do it all on my own. Then I went from [flying for] the corporate side of the company to the [offshore] oil side.
The machine has already been looked over by our engineers but we do a secondary look around the helicopter.
We head out. The operation I'm doing right now is out to the ABK field, which is a Total oilfield about 90 miles offshore. It is just a straight flight. We depart, we go to cruise altitude, we make a couple of radio calls and we basically just monitor the aircraft until we get close to the field.
We land, offload our passengers, put some more fuel in and do it again. We will do up to two flights in the morning and then a flight in the afternoon.
Lunch. We eat offshore. They are catered to by Spinney's so it's a really nice spread.
I take a nap, relax, read, call my husband and just kill time [until the return flight].
My husband and I came into the company a little over two years ago. I wanted to progress in my career, and my husband was progressing in his career, and we both had the exact same CV when we came on board. My manager said: "Well, we can get you on to a bigger helicopter and get you some more experience. But we can't get you offshore yet." They were eager to help get me [that] but they also knew that because the offshore operation was so new they didn't want to push me on to their client right away. It was the work of our offshore manager, Cal Fryer, communicating this to the management of Total and they said: "Yes, we would love to open the doors for everyone offshore."
I head back.
I close up the books, so essentially every minute you have been flying that day has to be recorded.
If I get back early enough I will try to go to the gym or get some sort of exercise because I will have been sitting around all day. Or I will just go back, shower, have some food, and relax. We watch a lot of TV.
I get a full eight hours' sleep but it doesn't always happen, so you have to catch it up the following day with a nap.