Fly over the Lofoten Islands

Hannu Erkkilä is from Alavus, an Ostrobothian born and bred. In that part of Finland, people learn to be humble and modest at an early age, but also gain a healthy pride in their own abilities. Hannu is an enthusiastic aviator and flying instructor, so during his summer holiday in the Lofoten Islands, he photographed VEO’s future project site – from the air!

“I was born into a farming family in Alavus in 1974. My father grew carrots and my mother was a psychiatric nurse. When I was a kid, there weren’t many fun things to do in our small town, so I tried everything I could. I played hockey in icy backyards, just like the other boys, but I also did folk dancing for twelve years. My mother first took me to try that out when I was ten.

“I hopped on stage with the girls, wearing folk dancing rags.”

It wasn’t just old-timey folk dances, though. You could do everything from ballet to disco. It wasn’t exactly a socially acceptable activity for a young lad. I remember our show at the seventh grade spring dance – it took a lot of guts to hop on stage with the girls, wearing folk dancing rags. In the audience, the wrestling and hockey lads looked at me funny. I may have melted the teachers’ hearts, but the lads sure had something to say to me about it. That certainly taught me both performing skills and self-confidence.

I have fond memories of school and childhood. I stayed in Alavus all the way through high school. Then it was time for the army, studying, and starting a family. Around that time I took up flying as a hobby – and I’m still at it. In 1998, I had what you might call a ‘mad spurt’. Three things arrived in the same week: a new job, my pilot’s licence, and my first child!

I have a large family, a wife and four kids. Car dealers take one look at us and start out by offering me a Mission bus! I teach my children the same way my parents taught me, with hard work. When you do enough physical labour in the countryside in the pouring rain, you appreciate the chance to stay in and read that much more.

I love flying. It’s a hobby and a passion. It all started back at the Air Force technical school, where I served as a maintenance technician. I’m now the head flying instructor for touring motor gliders at the Vaasa Flying Club. I fly a red-and-white motor glider designed for long-range journeys.

“I flew over the enchanting Lofoten Islands and photographed our future project site from the air.”

It was in this plane that I made one of my most unforgettable journeys. Last summer, my colleague and I took a flying holiday to the Lofoten Islands. You’d have to go as far as the Alps to find more challenging mountains. The landscape is breathtaking. This fantastic trip combined business and pleasure. There’s a power plant on the Lofoten Islands where VEO will be performing an automation update in summer 2015. I flew over these enchanting islands and filmed our future project site from the air. I had a real sense of freedom!

I also get a sense of freedom in my work for VEO, where I’ve been a excitation expert since 2010. I’m in charge of sales of voltage regulators, protectors and synchronisations for synchronous generators and motors. VEO received an award for the excitation solution that my team developed for wind power generators. Using our solution, you can build generators without permanent magnets.

My boss has faith in my expertise and lets us do things our own way – this fosters an inspiring atmosphere. Freedom does not, of course, come without responsibility. My employers expect results. As they should. I’m keen to keep studying all aspects of my work, as that’s the only way to develop.

Both work and life are all about development. For me, the desire to learn is inbuilt – which also describes VEO in general. I think we have more than the average share of people with a genuine desire to find new, more workable solutions. You name it, we can do it. It’s important for VEO to maintain this inspiring atmosphere.”