Simplicity On Board at Redding Air Service

Nicola Tims
October 21, 2020

Founded in 1957, Redding Air Service is rich in history, with their services over time spanning from flight training, to aerial photography, surveying, charter, and more. We spoke to Gordy Cox, Director of Operations about their refined service offerings that are now undertaken by the team, the company’s history, and his viewpoint on safety.

Lines and Fires

Gordy’s been with Redding since 2006, where they started with two long Rangers and one Jet Ranger. They now have a solid fleet tallying at 11, where the hangars house a Bell 212, a 205, a Huey, two Bell 407s, four LongRangers, a JetRanger, and an A-Star.

They’re also a Bell service centre, where they do routine maintenance checks on their machines (and customers' aircraft too!). The pilots now primarily focus on powerline and aerial firefighting work; the latter of which Gordy is wealthy in experience. His first fire battle was back in ‘92, where his 28 years of “tribal knowledge” gives him advantageous situational awareness when he’s flying.

Set and Forget

Gordy can see the path of a fire, know its behaviour, and essentially, knows what’s going to happen next! With his primary focus on the fire, distractions in the cockpit are the last thing he wants to worry about. 

“To a certain extent, I don't see [Spidertracks]; I don't have to do anything; I don't have to turn it on, it’s all done automatically.”

From his Spider, Gordy can get information from his aircraft sent directly to HQ, as well as to the National Interagency Fire Center, all without having to lift a finger; information such as bucket open/closed, flight path, take off, landing, altitude, and more.

“I spend a lot of time in the office, so I can go and I can pull up [Spidertracks] in my office, and see the flight histories, and all the tracking. I can see exactly where all the aircraft are.”

He also told us about the reassurance Spidertracks can provide for citizens when his pilots are in the air.

“I'll have a lot of people call here complaining about our aircraft, and they'll say ‘yeah he's flying at this altitude,’ and while they're on the phone I can pull [their flight path] up and say 'yeah, I see him, he's just crossing Chattanooga highway right now. He's nowhere near your house, but he was, at this time, and [flying] at this altitude.’ ” 

The Four Tenets

Redding Air Service’s founder, Burt Train, had a longstanding statement, which the company still uses as an integral part of how they work and operate, often influencing how they make their decisions.

Is it the truth? Is it fair to all concerned? Will it build goodwill and better friendships? Will it be beneficial to all concerned?

These tenets have been instilled in the way the team operates today, led from the top. “We have a poster down on the front entrance to our building, and they’re written down in various places around the building, in fuel trucks and in our vehicles,” Gordy says.

Collective Effort

The community is bigger than the company. 

“We have a policy here at Redding that if another helicopter comes in, you go up with your fuel truck and you better be the first one to offer him fuel,” Gordy tells us, “That comes down from Burt Train, the tenets of how we should run a business.”

Through the growth of the company, their core values have remained the same; from three personnel to 30+, they work collectively to provide top level services to the California region, and beyond. “[The tenets] are the kind of the culture we try to foster here, and I think everyone's on board with that, certainly.”

What Can Hurt Us?

Safety can have many terms, acronyms and references in our industry. We often speak to organisations about their thoughts on safety, and regardless of how it’s internally referenced, it’s always at the forefront of their minds. 

Gordy’s is no different - it’s part of the culture.

“We have a system culture, so our system was based upon safety. I like to say it's a safety management system culture. When we first embraced SMS about 10 years ago, instead of just trying to be safe and look out for what can hurt us; it was what's the next thing that's gonna kill me? How can I do this better?

With service, values, culture and safety intertwined, the team at Redding Air Service are well rounded to continue delivering high level services to their region. We’ll be checking in with them again in a few months to see how they benefit from having our latest Spiders on board - Spider X.

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