Years ago, Helisul Aviação hired, initially to clean aircraft and as a maintenance assistant, Regis Rosa Ferreira Júnior from Santa Catarina. In 2007, he passed the entrance exam for the Aircraft Maintenance Technologist course, in Curitiba. Regis then moved to the capital of Paraná to study. It took two years in the city between training and professional activities as a maintenance assistant at Hangar 41, at Bacacheri Airport.
Some time later, Regis was promoted to mechanic and took over tasks at the service of the Brazilian Institute for the Environment and Renewable Natural Resources (Ibama). It was then that life, let’s say, peaceful or within what would be considered normal, took on an adventurous air. It took nine years of hard work, learning and dedication, in the areas of seismology and aero-levelling, on 15×15 scales and trips to everything that was part of the Institute’s missions.
Undoubtedly, those were the most remarkable nine years of Regis’ career at Helisul, with stories and memories that owe nothing to any trap experienced by Pedro and Bino on the roads of Brazil, in the television series Carga Pesada, or any perrengue that the young man from the big city Joventino Leôncio, from the Pantanal, might get involved.
Yes, there is a “story” involving a jaguar, a crocodile, an escape and many other ‘characters’. Let the various partners who were with Regis on these true adventures say so, such as the pilot Mariana, Manoelzinho, Carlos de Arimatéia, Jair, commanders Muriel, Duran and Ling, among many others.
These are stories for whole days of conversation, like the day one of the aircraft had a breakdown in the state of Pará. Everyone involved in the work was housed inside a sports gym – Ibama, Federal Police – because the city was being targeted. A breakdown in an aircraft, 2 hours into the woods, prevented it from taking off again.
“They managed to make contact and we went to the location by car. Really the helicopter could not fly and not stand alone. A crew member and I stayed and the others returned, because they had not eaten for the whole day, without anything. We stayed for a quarter of an hour in front of the helicopter, setting fire to 50, 60 liters of kerosene, because an ounce was burning on one side and we didn’t know where that ounce was. It was one sitting with a rifle and the other sleeping for a while. Every two hours, we changed and until the morning it was like this. We couldn’t stay inside the aircraft, because there was fire in front of us and we could get into the helicopter. Until they arrived the other day, around 10 am or so, with the material I requested, an entire tail rotor. We exchanged in the middle of the bush and came back”, reports Regis.
He also had the bambis (firefighting equipment) lost inside the suggestive Lagoa da Conversão, in Tocantins, during a mission. “We lost the bambis inside a lagoon that had a crocodile, measuring 3.5 to 4 meters. They didn’t attack us, but they were visible. And who will get it? I said, “I won’t”. The animal was bigger than the canoe!”. In the end, Regis asked an Indian for help, who retrieved the bambis and returned them to dry land. “But I was going to die there. The crocodile just kept an eye on us,” he recalls.
Another perrengue happened once when a group of people thought they were going to set fire to a truck used by the Helisul team in one of the missions – this Regis doesn’t remember where. “People had already sworn they were going to set fire to our truck and I knew the truck was coming. So I took a rented motorbike, at dawn, and entered the path. I went against the truck, because if it arrived in town, they would catch the driver and set it on fire. From there, we took the truck to another city. Then I got back on my motorcycle and they wanted to catch me, I had to run away too.”
To close the “series of adventures” in style, the last one was in the Amazon. Regis was on a mission with Commander Ling in a municipality in the Brazilian state. Helisul had been hired by a contractor that, unknown to the aircraft operator, was in debt for the entire city: food, restaurant, hotel.
“We learned that they were going to insure the helicopter as payment, but little did they know that the helicopter did not belong to the debtor company. They were aware that our mission was ending. There is always an informant and they said: ‘They are going to the airport this late afternoon, tie the helicopter and keep it as payment. And if they don’t deliver, they set fire to it’. Knowing this, we took all things from the hotel, we didn’t even pay. And we went straight to the airport. We got into the helicopter, left and left aimlessly, just to get him out of there. We had to hijack our own helicopter and flee to a remote base, to transfer to Curitiba the next day.”
According to Regis, it is not known what the outcome was between the defaulting company and the city’s trade. Helisul, however, did not fail to receive payment from the contractor. “They paid, in court”, says the inspector.
End of adventures and return to Florianópolis
After a few years Regis returned, in agreement with Helisul, to Florianópolis. It was then that he assumed the position of chief inspector of the base in the capital of Santa Catarina, where he is currently. The desire to take a break came when Regis’ second daughter was born.
“I saw her every 15 days. I didn’t see her grow up. Then they gave me the opportunity to stop with the missions and lead here. I took over the base, which didn’t exist at all, and today it is the company’s second busiest in terms of maintenance, after Curitiba.”
The Florianópolis base has 27 registered companies and has a team of nine people, including mechanics, assistants and administrative personnel. Today, the grandfather of a one-year-old boy, son of his firstborn, 23, Regis has fun telling the many stories he has gone through, now with much more time with the whole family.
“I became a grandfather, my grandson is one year old. He is better than son. In their time we only work and don’t see. Now he has more time for his grandchildren. People can screw up. The bad thing is only for the parents ”, he jokes.