SOUTH MISSISSIPPI (WLOX) - With more than a decade of flying experience, Stephanie Parks, has spent her fair share of time in the air. But with all of her training and experience, Parks said still there is still plenty of preparation that has to be done before each take off.
"Before we fly, we go over an extensive pre-flight of this aircraft. We look it over. We look at all the flight records, and manuals that everything is accurate and in place," said Parks.
Despite checking to make sure all things are ready before take off, Parks said sometimes things can go wrong.
"Unfortunately, some things do happen that are unpredictable. Sometimes they can't be seen, but you know aviation is safe. Flying helicopters is safe," said Parks.
Years ago, during a training exercise in Hattiesburg, Parks had her own scare in the air.
"On one of my engines I was showing signs of engine failure. I was getting some over temperature readings, and the cockpit lights were coming on.
So, we had to execute one of the emergency procedures," said Parks.
Because she was flying a double engine Black Hawk, Parks was able to glide to a safe landing using the backup engine. Since single engine helicopters like the one involved in the prescribed burn accident don't have that luxury, other factors must be considered.
"You just have to be more aware of your restrictions. You have to be more aware of the weather. The impact of the weather and temperatures have on an aircraft and the performance of the aircraft," said Parks.
When there are other passengers aboard the aircraft, Parks said the need to land safely becomes even more important.
"It's one thing if you're the only person in the cockpit in the aircraft at the time. When you have others in the aircraft, it's a heavier responsibility to have those other people in the cockpit, and you have to consider that," said Parks.