Your Life is in good hands, with Kristi Grant

Inside CareflightIt was a Saturday morning during June 2014 and the weather seemed more like a bit of winter than beginning of summer out in Washoe Valley where I was helping out with a Safety Fair being held at the Volunteer Fire station off of Eastlake. We were setting up tables, getting the furnace turned on so there would be a place for everyone to at least find a warm place to take the chill off. In attendance were various agencies attending to show off their equipment.

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Photo by James Skuba

The excitement among the visitors was high because REMSA Care flight was soon to make an appearance. It is always exciting to watch a Helicopter land. For some unknown reason the crew that was stationed locally had a last minute change of schedule and the crew from Truckee, California received the call and were heading in to make a landing. All of a sudden it became really quiet among the crowd as you began to hear the Helicopter approaching and the spectators with Camera’s were anxiously awaiting to capture some really awesome shots of the approach and landing.

You could see the Helicopter in clear view, even though there were dark clouds in the background and the wind was a bit brisk coming out of the west, but that did not stop anyone from standing out in the weather with their eyes focused on the Helicopter. As it came closer, the pilot began to circle in order to determine just where to land, then it came in for the final approach. It was amazing to see since the pilot was so calm in the landing as not to rustle up too much dust. The crowd was very happy for that since many cars were nearby.

The Helicopter landed and the pilot began the slow and steady shut down. The first two to exit the Helicopter were the onboard Nurse Natasha Lukasiewich and REMSA Paramedic Chris Chang. The pilot was still completing the finishing touches and once that was completed, then finally exited. I had to take a second look, since I was expecting to see a male pilot, but once my eyes focused, I could see that the pilot was a woman, her name, Kristi Grant.

The crowd rushed over and surrounded the Helicopter, not just to see what it was equipped with, but to gaze and talk with Kristi Grant. I was no exception. I stood back listening to all the questions and observing Kristi Grant answering them. I had no idea that Care Flight iswell equipment to be able to function as an Intensive Care Unit. Wow impressive!

Once the crowd decreased, I made my move to speak with Kristi and ask if I could interview her for this website. She was very obliging. I wanted to know where her love for flying started and why.

Kristi explained with passion in her voice that ever since she was a little girl, she dreamed of one day being a Helicopter pilot. She remembers telling her mother of her fascination with Helicopters and one day she would be flying one.

Based out of Truckee-Tahoe Airport, elevation 5,900 her team is Care flight 3. They respond to everything from outdoor recreation accidents to motor vehicle accidents and inter-facility transfers.

In 1999, Kristi began training at Helicopter Adventures, Inc which is now Bristow Academy out of Concord, California. She started her career flying Schweizer 300CB and Robinson R22 piston trainers, then progressed through her private, commercial and flight instructor certifications, she then continued into instrument and flight instructor instrument ratings.
Her accomplishments did not stop there.

Appropriately, in 1999 Grant started training at Helicopter Adventures Inc., which is now Bristow Academy, in Concord, Calif. Flying the Schweizer 300CB and Robinson R22 piston trainers, she progressed through her private, commercial and flight instructor certifications, and instrument and flight instructor instrument ratings.

From there, teaching became her priority. Early in 2001, Kristi went to Guidance Helicopters [now Guidance Aviation] in Prescott, Ariz., to start their instrument program, and helped with the helicopter degree program partnership with Embry-Riddle [Aeronautical University]. She eventually became the chief flight instructor at Guidance, flying Robinson R22 and R44s in hot-and-high conditions around Prescott. This gave her many hours of invaluable mountain experience. During her time there, Grant also got her airline transport pilot certificate, became a U.S. Federal Aviation Administration designated pilot examiner (DPE), and earned a bachelor of science in aeronautics with a minor in aviation business from Embry-Riddle.

The crowd began to grow once again and Kristi needed to attended to her guests, so I was not able to complete her background as I would have hoped, but I did manage to hear Kristi tell the audience that she began working for Care flight 5 years ago and was lucky enough to land the spot out of Truckee-Tahoe Airport. Kristi flies the AS350 B3 model she flies, calling it a smooth and comfortable aircraft that’s relatively fast and has excellent hot-and-high performance. It’s probably the best single-engine airframe for the conditions we operate, says Kristi.

So if you look up in the sky and see Care Flight, it just might be Kristi Grant on a mission to save a life.

All photos taken by James Skuba

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