Helicopter pilots usually don’t have difficulty finding work. They can get jobs in everything from medical transport to law enforcement. They are hired for gigs in the timber and oil industries.
A career in helicopter aviation is an open field.
But not the field Kyle Collins prepared to fly over this weekend.
Kyle is the chief helicopter pilot for Middle Georgia State University’s School of Aviation in Eastman.
He once flew 16 hours to deliver a helicopter from Pennsylvania to Georgia. He has taken people to destination weddings. Last year, the Dodge County Sheriff’s Department enlisted his aerial services to help locate a missing person.
His assignment for Saturday was anything but routine. The weather forecast called for partly cloudy with a 100 percent chance of eggs.
Kyle was tasked with hovering 50-60 feet above the ground and dumping 10,000 plastic Easter eggs in an open field at the main campus of Middle Georgia State in Macon.
The sound of a whirly bird rising above the squeals of hundreds of children is a kids’ version of March Madness.
Egg drop is most often associated with a soup on the menu of a Chinese restaurant. But Kyle was excited about the challenge of preparing for the most unique Easter egg hunt in the history of the Cherry Blossom Festival. (It was destined to go more smoothly than the renowned pingpong ball drop of a few years back, when the gusty March winds swept them off course.)
Kyle is only 26 years old, so it wasn’t too many years ago when he was racing around clutching an Easter basket and scooping candy off the ground.
He grew up attending Cherry Blossom festivals – only in a different city. He was born and raised in Conyers, which began its festival in 1982, the same year Macon kicked off its unofficial tribute with a three-day weekend of festivities.
His interest in helicopter aviation has its roots in Alaska. He was in the eighth grade on a family trip, and he took a helicopter ride to a glacier.
He has been an instructor with aviation school in Eastman for three years, and he was promoted to chief helicopter pilot in February 2017.
Although Saturday was Kyle’s debut Easter Egg drop, it was not the first time he has had a role in sugar falling from the sky.
Last year, he and his assistants provided some eye-in-the-sky candy, emptying five-gallon buckets of everything from Tootsie Rolls to Skittles to bubble gum in a field at a community event in Eastman.
Now, he can check eggs off his basket list.
Ed Grisamore teaches journalism and creative writing at Stratford Academy in Macon. His column appears on Sundays in The Telegraph.