Bill Coolbaugh

I graduated high school in 1976 and started a construction company. Due to changes in the construction industry, the toll it was taking on my body, and changes in my personal life, I decided to do a career change. I enrolled in Gateway Technical College’s Aeronautical Program and started flying in 1987 with the hope of becoming an airline pilot. I had gotten my commercial fixed wing and in 1989 I had an opportunity to fly helicopters. Once I got the controls of a helicopter in my hands and after careful consideration of the aviation market, I chose to go down the dark side of aviation and fly helicopters for a living. In 1993 I got my Helicopter Flight Instructor certificate.

Over the years I have flown many different kinds of aircraft and jobs. Besides flight instruction, I have flown in crop dusting, news helicopter, sightseeing flights, pipeline and powerline patrol, search and recovery, frost protection, crop pollination, aerial photography, ferrying, test flights and charter. I currently have over 8000 hours total time, close to 7000 hours in helicopters with over 5000 hours flight instructing.

During this entire time, I also worked at the local airport pumping fuel and performing maintenance in exchange for flight time. I eventually obtained my A&P (airframe and powerplant) Mechanic certificate and a few years later I got my IA (inspection authorization). I worked on most Cessna, Piper and Mooney aircraft along with the following helicopters: R22, R44, B47-G, B47-J, Bell 206, Bell 430, MD500, Hiller UH1-12E, and Hughes 269. In the late 90’s I decided to specialize my maintenance to helicopters only.


  • Robinson’s R22/R44/R66 Factory Maintenance Training Course
  • Robinson Safety Course
  • Textron Lycoming’s Factory Service School
  • Rolls-Royce Factory Engine Maintenance Course for the RR300
  • Bell 47 Factory Component Overhaul Course at Southern Illinois University
  • Bell Helicopter Model 430 Field Maintenance Training Course
  • Dynamic Solution’s Helicopter Vibration, Rotor Track and Balance Course