Helicopter Pilot | Chattanooga, Tenn.
When the lights overhead suddenly flicker and go out, most people probably don’t stop to think about what actually might have caused the power outage. They probably don’t take the time to think about what it takes to get the power back on either. And they definitely don’t imagine a helicopter pilot flying through a storm and hovering mid-air over a power line while his coworker dangles from a cable to fix the problem. But that is exactly what Nigel Jones does.
“In that situation, I stop thinking about TVA as my job, and, instead, it feels like a mission,” he says. “People are cold, and we need to get the heat back on. Or, people are depending on us for the power they need for medical devices.”
As a TVA helicopter pilot in the Transmission group, Nigel is part of a team that covers 86,000 square miles in seven states to help inspect every inch of the 17,000 miles of power lines that run through the Valley. Through his efforts, issues are spotted and repaired quickly, giving people in the area the reliable energy that they depend on. But his contribution to the community doesn’t stop there. He also provides transportation for TVA’s various industrial prospects, many of which go on to bring hundreds of jobs to the area.
“If I fly a manufacturer of truck-bed liners, for example, into a community that needs jobs, and the manufacturer purchases a building, which then employs some of the local residents, then I’ve played a small part in helping people find jobs,” he says.
Though his time on the clock is spent serving the people of the Tennessee Valley, his activities outside of work broaden his reach of service even further. Since 2008, Nigel has travelled to Uganda four times to serve on short-term mission trips. He and his teams help run youth camps organized by AMG International, a Christian missionary agency headquartered in Chattanooga but serving in over 30 countries around the world.
“We do anything that needs to be done,” he says, “from helping to teach and organize games to mopping floors.”
But the best part for Nigel is interacting with the kids one on one and developing lasting relationships. He says when he got back from his last trip, he had 17 Facebook friend requests.
“Knowing that I make a difference in someone else’s life makes mine worthwhile.”
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