If you had to invent a social media platform just for helicopter pilots, you’d probably come up with something pretty close to Instagram. After all, Instagram and its adherents strongly favor stunning visuals, adventurous lifestyles, fulfilling careers, offbeat travel, and above all, fun. Sound familiar?
It’s no surprise, then, that the platform is chock full of follow-worthy helicopter pilots living their best lives and sharing them with the world. The best Instagram accounts tap into their followers’ aspirations, encouraging us to dream big, while also making those aspirations feel within reach of the average mortal. With that in mind, we’ve compiled a list of a few of our favorite must-follow accounts among the countless helicopter pilots on The Gram.
For the best overall balance of personal adventure and exciting airwork, it’s hard to beat @overlandpilot, the handle for Australian helicopter pilot James Williams. With shots nabbed from his work in remote camps in Australia’s wild and rugged north coast region, James ably demonstrates how helicopter flight provides you with both access to and vantage points of parts of the world that few people will ever see.
With 22k followers and counting, @andreapuccinelli is among the best-known commercial helicopter pilots on Instagram. Flying in both California and Germany gives Andrea both a bigger visual palette for her dramatic airborne photos, as well as a useful perspective on EASA and FAA licensing requirements. Her photography is often accompanied by motivational messages encouraging others to pursue their personal dreams of flight.
For the HEMS pilot perspective, look no further than @rachelicopter, the Instagram account for Atlanta-based medevac pilot Rachel Bahr, whose first name combined with her chosen career perhaps made Instagram fame inevitable. Her specialty is providing unique perspectives on the handsome Atlanta skyline, and her expert advice on what to do in Atlanta also earned her a write-up in Vertical ahead of the 2019 Heli Expo there.
The best Instagram feed for a behind-the-controls perspective belongs to Tom Ostrem of Norway, a.k.a. @thathelicopterguy. Tom uses a fix-mounted camera set to timelapse mode so that he can focus on flying, and the over-the-shoulder results are dramatically cool. The fact that Tom’s work routinely takes him over Norway’s otherworldly fjords doesn’t hurt the drama factor either.
Perhaps the most famous of all Instagram helicopter pilots, Fred North’s fanbase extends beyond helicopter enthusiasts to include anyone who ever asked “How’d they do that?” while watching an outrageous Hollywood stunt. Fred has performed helicopter stunts or served as the pilot for heli-filming in more than 150 movies, including most of The Fast & The Furious franchise. His Instagram feed is, not surprisingly, very video-centric, and the clips are nothing short of jaw-dropping. Fred is also generous about answering his followers’ questions, so aspiring commercial helicopter pilots can get inspiration and education at the same time.
While we have yet to feature a Vin Diesel cameo (we’re working on it), we’d like to think our own Hillsboro Heli feed is pretty cool in its own right. Follow us and you’ll get more than great photography from our own breathtaking flight environment here in the Pacific Northwest. You’ll also get the perspective of people like you making the leap into an exciting career in commercial helicopter flight.