Looking to Fly Again

pilotHaving an unusual job can be great fun and provide you with endless cocktail party stories, but it can also make it tough to find work when you are unemployed.

Just ask Bart Cornell. He is a helicopter pilot who has done everything from fly military missions to evacuate oil rig workers during Hurricane Katrina.

Tough but Rewarding Work

Cornell started flying helicopters in the military in the late '70s, and when he got out became a chopper pilot for a TV station in Texasand for companies flying oil rig workers back and forth to rigs in the Gulf of Mexico. During that time, Cornell had what he described as the most dangerous assignment he ever had as a pilot, but also the most rewarding.

"Two days before Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans I was evacuating oil rigs 200 miles south of there," Cornell said. "My last mission I had some very strong winds, heavy turbulence and storms to fly around to get to the oil rig. I picked up the last people on the rig, and when we got back to shore they all shook my hand and told me that not every pilot would take a chance like I did." 

In 2006, following the storm, the helicopter company went out of business and Bart was out of work.

He followed that job with another gig as a chopper pilot for a TV station, this time in Albuquerque, N.M.

" I flew all over the state enjoying the beautiful mountains," Cornell said. " My last mission I had a tail rotor failure. I put the helicopter on the ground the best I could. The helicopter was damaged -- but the cameraman and I walked away without a scratch." It was his first crash in 20 years of flying. The company he worked for did not replace the damaged chopper, and Cornell was out of work again.

Having Back-Up Plans

Cornell has not let the ups and downs of the chopper business totally sideline him. He runs his own home and office remodeling business in St. Louis; but flying is his love, and he wants to be back in the air.

That's not to say his ingenuity can't help him earn some money,as it once did in the past. In the late '80s, Cornell was watching a friend play a scratch-off lottery game and complain about how difficult and messy it was to scratch off the cards. That night he went home and invented the One Scratch Key, a special key adorned with lucky symbols designed specifically for scratch-off lottery tickets.

"Two days later, I had my first sample of my keys and display box made," he said. " I went to the main office for all the 7-11 stores in Missouri and showed my product. Within a few minutes they ordered one box of 200 keys per box for each of the 190 stores in the state. After that I went to the main office of the Quick Trips in Missouri. A few minutes later they ordered for all their stores."

Cornell was invited to a state lottery convention in Florida and was able to sell his key to other store chains in five states.

Lucky In Love

Cornell's ingenuity and chopper pilot skills also have helped him in his love life. Back in 1994 he used his helicopter to find a date.

"I flew my helicopter to Blue Springs, MO," he told me. "I landed in a friend's parking lot near a busy road. Then I put up a sign on the side of the helicopter that said "WANTED: WOMAN COMPANION". Within two hours I a dozen women stop and give me their names and numbers. All three television stations in Kansas City came by and put me on the 6 and 10 p.m. news."

Cornell networks with fellow chopper pilots, but so far he hasn't had any luck finding another flying job.

So, if you need a good chopper pilot, or a lucky key for your scratch-off tickets, get in touch with him. His email is Cornellbart@aol.com.

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