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HILLSVILLE — A new fixed base operator has Twin County Airport on the radar of many helicopter pilots from the region.
Bill Bryant had gotten interested in flying first with radio controlled models, but then spun up his involvement in flying by building his own helicopter in 2000.
He fabricated the frame and installed a Geo Metro engine in the aircraft, which he often flies at 500 feet above the Twin Counties.
Bryant had operated a garage in Hillsville, but he leased that out and now is a tenant in a hangar at the airport, offering a variety of aerial services there.
The hangar at Bill’s Helicopter Service LLC holds several aircraft that he owns or has been contracted to provide inspections and maintenance for.
He has earned his certification from the FAA as an airframe and power plant mechanic and provides maintenance for helicopters and planes.
Bryant also serves as a flight instructor and flies over many a festival, the Labor Day Gun Show and Flea Market included, giving aerial tours.
He helps clients buy and sell helicopters, provides inspections and works to get imported helicopters into compliance with regulations here in the U.S.
Twin County Airport reached out to Bryant when he was working at a hangar on his own property, and the two parties negotiated a deal.
“I was limited to just helicopters because I didn’t have any place to land a plane,” Bryant said.
He keeps his own 1965 Cessna plane at the airport, alongside his 1967 model helicopter with its fresh bright red color from a recent paint job.
There probably isn’t another operator in Virginia providing service for helicopters closer than Bristol or Danville. Bryant’s business has grown so he provides service to 14 helicopters for a radius of about 100 miles, except for one distant client from the North Carolina coast.
His clients include businesses like aerial surveyors and crop dusters.
Two employees work with Bryant, one of which is also an airframe and power plant mechanic. Both are helicopter pilots.
Having built and flown his own helicopter gives Bryant an understanding of how a helicopter works. “For me, it’s just about understanding the mechanics behind it.”
His business allows him to continue to fly, and he works six days a week.
Some people struggle with their chosen career, but Bryant said it helps that he enjoys his work.
“I started at the bottom and I worked myself up with the help of the Lord to where we are today,” Bryant said. “I’ve been really busy. I’ve been blessed to have the business.”