NEW TOWN - When the Three Affiliated Tribes needed a helicopter for aerial tours of the oil development on the Fort Berthold Reservation April 3, Monte Myers was called.
Myers, of Mandan, owns and operates Double M. Helicopters. It is believed to be the only utility helicopter company in the state. This is the company's third year of operation.
Double M Helicopters provides various services to the oil field and other areas including passenger transport. "With the helicopter I can land at any oil rig site basically and drop them off," Myers said.
Pilot Monte Myers takes off in the Bell 206 B-3 helicopter with Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., and other passengers April 3. Mike Williams, aircraft mechanic, is providing the ground support at the site near the 4 Bears Casino & Lodge, west of New Town. The group in the helicopter went to Mandaree and other areas on the Fort Berthold Reservation that day.
Much of Myers' work is moving parts and supplies in the oil field but he also provides aerial firefighting, energized powerline maintenance, seismic support and power-pipeline inspection/cleaning, plus takes part in special events.
On April 3, Myers and his bright yellow Bell 206 B-3 helicopter were flying Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., her staff and tribal officials on aerial tours of oil and gas wells, the proposed refinery near Makoti, as well as stops in White Shield and Mandaree during the day.
Carson Hood Jr., director of the tribes' Energy Department, said they've used Double M Helicopters several times when they've needed aerial service.
The passengers boarded the helicopter west of New Town in the 4 Bears Casino & Lodge parking lot that day.
"I brought the helicopter up on a semi and we operate from here since there's no jet fuel around," Myers said. He said he takes his own fuel with him.
Mike Williams, an aircraft mechanic originally from New Town, provided the ground support.
Originally from Mandan, Myers learned to fly in the military. He's been in the Guard for 29 years and is still flying aircraft for the Guard. He has flown several different types of helicopters during his military career. Now he flies the C-12 plane.
In late March, Myers, flying the C-12, brought the last two members of the 818th Engineer Company (Sapper) back to North Dakota from Fort Bliss, Texas. "They had a nice reception for them at the hangar," he said. Other 818th members returned to the state earlier. That unit several months in Afghanistan.
Myers, who has the rank of chief warrant officer 5, went to flight school in 1986. "So it's 27 years and I still like going to work every day," he said. He's an instructor pilot with the Guard.
Myers was in Afghanistan in 2004 and 2005. He said currently there are aviation soldiers from the N.D. National Guard in Afghanistan a group he knows quite well and flies with in the C-12.
The eight soldiers from the Bismarck-based Detachment 42, Organizational Support Airlift, left Bismarck in January and will be in Afghanistan for a year.
The military helicopters are always flown dual pilot. Myers is the sole pilot of the Bell 206. There are four seats for passengers.
"Today (April 3) we're only taking three with at a time," Myers said during an interview before flying Heitkamp and others to Mandaree. "We were down in White Shield this morning with the senator and this afternoon we're going to Mandaree."
Through his military service Myers is quite familiar with flying dignitaries and other special guests to various areas. "It's such a timesaver for them. We can be on the ground like this morning in 20 minutes we landed on the ground in White Shield," he said. Otherwise, he said, it would have been much more time involved for a drive to White Shield and back to New Town
Myers decided to go into the helicopter operation business because he saw a need for the services he could offer.
"I did my homework and determined that it (the business) would probably justify taking the risk of flying all the machines, getting everything set up and going through the paperwork with the FAA. So here we are three years later and so far so good," Myers said.
He plans to return to New Town in early May for the MHA Nation's annual Bakken Oil & Gas Expo. The expo is May 7-8 in the 4 Bears Event Center, west of New Town.