Rob Heyde spent more than 10 years working as an engineer for computer giants Hewlett-Packard and Apple. But when manufacturing jobs began moving out of the valley, Heyde’s career path went from high-tech to high in the sky above Silicon Valley.
Heyde, 56, now spends three nights a week hovering above Santa Clara County and providing a bird’s-eye view for cops on the city streets below. Since 2002, Heyde has served as the primary pilot for the Santa Clara County sheriff’s helicopter Star One, patrolling the skies with a sheriff’s deputy from 1,500 feet.
“I never planned on flying for a living,” said Heyde, who earned a pilot’s license while a student at Oregon State University.