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Flying high in the UAE
Friday 1 July 2011, 07:38AM
  Canadian Ian Mitchell says his inspiration for becoming a helicopter pilot came from his father, who was in the Royal Canadian Air Force and was also one of the directors of the Canadian International Airshow in Toronto. “I grew up around aviation and have been around aeroplanes and helicopters for as long as I can remember,” Mr Mitchell said. “I was one of those little boys who built plastic model aeroplanes and had them hanging from his bedroom ceiling,” He is now employed as a helicopter pilot, flying to offshore oil rigs on the Persian Gulf from the company’s main base in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. Mr Mitchell started taking flying lessons at the age of 16 while in high school in Canada. He obtained his private pilot’s licence and his commercial pilot’s licence, and at age 19, got his first job working as an aeroplane pilot in northern Canada. Later that same year, Mr Mitchell studied at an aviation college in Canada and began flying helicopters when he was 21. In 1997, the opportunity arose to fly Bell412s, 15-seater, twin-engine helicopters, to offshore oil platforms in the Persian Gulf, out of Doha, Qatar. Mr Mitchell said he jumped at the opportunity and has never looked back. He has been in his current job since 1999, and has his home in Phuket. Helicopter pilots often work a-six-week-on, six-week-off schedule. “Travelling back and forth to the Caribbean from the Middle East became gruelling. Tired of crossing so many time zones, I made a right turn at the airport in New Delhi one night, instead of a left. A couple aeroplane rides later, I found myself in Phuket. I haven’t been back to the Caribbean since. After several years of living on the island, I decided to build a home here with my wife,” he said. Mr Mitchell said the most interesting part of flying helicopters, especially the larger types like the AW139, is the mix of technology and the jobs with which the crew are tasked. “Every day and every flight is different,” he said. “Without a doubt the most difficult part of the job for a pilot is the extensive time spent away from family and friends. “Flying aeroplanes and especially larger helicopters, has given me the opportunity to live and work anywhere in the world. So I’m very fortunate,” he said.
Loving the listeners
Friday 17 June 2011, 02:35AM
  DJ Tom Somsanuk of Blue Wave 90.5 FM in Phuket says the most interesting part of his job is helping listeners relive memories through music or putting a smile on their faces with a great song. Known as DJ Tank, or “Tommy the Tank”, he was born in Washington DC but has both Thai and American citizenship. He also has a degree in the unusual combination of biology and theatre. DJ Tank grew up listening to great local radio stations in America, where he really felt part of a community of listeners. This was his inspiration to become a disc jockey. “I wanted to be able to create those same great feelings of community on the radio here in Phuket. I used to sit at the radio, trying to catch my favorite songs to make a mixed tape...way before the advent of MP3s and such,” he said. His DJ career started when he got work as a DJ at 95.5 FMX in Bangkok. He was the last DJ on air before it became Virgin Radio.Before becoming a disc jockey, he worked in various occupations but always longed to get on the radio. “I used to be a bookshop clerk and people used to tell me I had a radio voice. When I asked if they knew anyone in the business they said no. However, those people made me think, well maybe someday I’ll look into it,” DJ Tank said. DJ Tank also used to work as a nightclub bouncer as VIP security, looking after famous nightclub clients such as American singer James Brown and British singer-songwriter Boy George. “I also used to be a nightclub manager, when I specialised in babysitting the rich and famous on a rampage. It was good fun though. I also used to be a nightclub owner, specialising in paying bills and having a good time.” DJ Tank said he connects with his listeners daily through his broadcasts, but he would really like to meet up with more. “It would be more great to connect more through events and parties like in Bangkok or in the States. Phuket listeners are still relatively very shy so audience participation is a growing and developing concept,” he said. DJ Tank said although being a DJ is not easy, he is happy in his job. “There is a fine line between being paid to bulls**t and being paid to broadcast...those who last can do both really well,” he said.