Meet the Pilots
John French – Chief Pilot
John a.k.a. Frenchy, is very well known and respected throughout the Kimberley and Pilbara region in Western Australia. With over 9,000 hours of commercial helicopter and fixed wing experience, Frenchy started out mustering in Western Australia. Since this time, he has clocked up many hours conducting fire incendiary, sling loading, feral animal control, mining and geological surveys, and medical evacuation operations, plus countless hours of flying very happy tourists around the Kimberley.
For over 25 years, Frenchy has had an incident free flying career. This highlights his professional, proactive and safety conscious attitude. As Chief Pilot, Frenchy is also responsible for the company’s regular checks and the training of all KAS pilots. His comprehensive knowledge of the Kimberley landscape, and wide-ranging aviation experience are a key asset to KAS Helicopters’ ongoing success.
Mike “Tommo” Thomson has been flying for nearly 20 years, starting out in the world of fixed wing aircraft, from flying aerobatics in Queenstown, New Zealand, to flying nurses into and out of Aboriginal communities in the Australian outback. Tommo made the move to helicopters in 2010, and has based himself in the Kimberley region ever since. Tommo is our Head of Aircraft Airworthiness and Maintenance (HAAMC) and Broome Operations Manager, and even though he enjoys the many varied aspects and challenges of flying in the Kimberley region, he never tires of the flight up and down Broome’s iconic Cable Beach at sunset. Tommo holds both rotary and fixed wing commercial licenses, can fly a variety of planes and helicopters, and has just over 3,000 combined flight hours
Hamish started his flying career in New Zealand, and after flying the length and breadth of the country a few times he was in search of much bigger and better opportunities. This brought on the decision to move with his family to Australia, and settle in Perth, Western Australia.
Hamish has gained extensive aviation experience as a chief flying instructor in Perth, as well as in multi engine operations of medium helicopters in the oil and gas industry along with a stint at the industry regulator CASA as an FOI. Most recently, Hamish acted as a senior base pilot patrolling metropolitan and south west beaches for Surf Life Saving WA. Hamish holds commercial licenses in both fixed wing and helicopters and has close to 4,000 hours in a variety of light and medium helicopters alone. Hamish’s wealth of aviation knowledge is an invaluable asset to KAS Helicopters for both internal and external operations.
Roger has an aviation career that spans over 30 years and 15,000 hours. He holds commercial licences for both rotary and fixed wing and is a skilled, immensely experienced pilot, particularly when it comes to working in remote areas. Roger is endorsed on many different types of helicopters, and has worked in the Kimberley, Snowy Mountains and Queensland as well as Melbourne as a media pilot for Channel 7 amongst others. The call of the Kimberley lured Roger back in 2016, having previously worked here for years in the mustering industry in the 1990s. Roger brings a wealth of knowledge to the company with his extensive experience in multiple helicopter types along with many and varied work experiences.
Matt fell in love with aviation at a young age when flying on the crop dusters that used to come to the family farm. He was lucky enough to be awarded a scholarship with Bristow and did all his flight training in the USA, where he then spent time as an instructor and instrument stage check pilot. Returning to Australia, and now with over 1200 flying hours Matt works in Bristow’s engineering department in Broome, and flies for KAS on his weeks off. He loves the diversity that flying in the Kimberley has to offer, and his favourite flight is taking tourists out to the Horizontal Falls and seeing the excitement on their faces when they get their first glimpse of the breathtaking scenery.
Hilary, the latest addition to our team, is another long term Kimberley resident having moved to Broome nine years ago on a short term work contract! Despite a strong aviation gene running in the family, and having been introduced to small planes at a very early age back in the UK, it wasn’t until 2012 that Hilary got her first taste of helicopters at Mitchell Falls and instantly knew she wanted to learn to fly. She did her first lesson two weeks later and the rest is history, having now swapped a corporate career for pilot life. A passionate advocate for all things Kimberley, Hilary loves nothing more than showing tourists the sights of this incredible region from above.