Rescue Pilot & Keynote Speaker
Jerry Grayson is a search and rescue pilot who is internationally recognised as an expert in manned and unmanned flight. As such, he has been involved in some of the world’s most challenging and dangerous missions – from Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait to the infamous Fastnet Yacht Race.
As well as participating in nail biting rescue missions, Jerry has filmed extraordinarily diverse events from helicopters and drones, including the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, and the ravaged oil fields of Kuwait’s first Gulf War, to the devastation after the Bushfires of Black Saturday. In business, he has also successfully navigated professional disruption brought about by digital and drone technology.
Jerry has written books and films, and has been interviewed on all the major radio and television stations in Australia, by the London Times, Telegraph and Daily Mail, on BBC Radio and even appeared on Russian TV.
Jerry is a powerful speaker on topics such as drones and digital disruption, risk management, teamwork, resilience and leadership. He has presented keynotes at events such as The International Drone Expo in the USA, the Australian International Airshow, and London’s Commercial UAV Conference which is the largest in Europe. He has addressed government sectors including The Royal Australian Navy, the Defence Science & Technology Group, the Department of Fire & Emergency Services in WA, and organisations such as Habitat for Humanity and Life Saving Victoria. Jerry has addressed health and educational groups from the Australasian Sonographers Association, to SW TAFE, the Bendigo Kangan Institute, Melbourne Grammar, Geelong College, Wyvern House at Newington College, as well as state secondary colleges and schools. His corporate clients have included Optus, Metrotrains, Swiss Re, Sword Active Risk.
More about Jerry Grayson:
Jerry was just 17 years old when he joined the Fleet Air Arm, the youngest helicopter pilot to ever serve in the Royal Navy. By the age of 25 he was the most decorated peacetime naval pilot in history and was awarded the Air Force Cross (AFC) by the Queen for outstanding gallantry in search and rescue.
The work of a search and rescue pilot is vital, dangerous, thrilling and on the edge. Jerry saved fighter pilots who had ditched at sea, rescued desperate sailors from sinking yachts during the infamous Fastnet Race – in which only 85 out of 303 yachts made it back to harbour – and picked up a grievously ill crewman from the deck of a nuclear-armed submarine that was playing a cat-and-mouse game with the Soviet navy.
In 2,500 hours of flying with the Royal Navy, Jerry and his crewmates saved more than 70 lives on 120 rescue missions. His story is not an account of one man’s deeds, but a salute to all the men and women he worked with who were able to turn tragedies into triumphs.
Since leaving the Navy, Jerry has carved out a career becoming one of the world’s leading helicopter film pilots, and the world’s leading aerial film director.
He set up a production company specialising in footage shot from helicopters and went on to contribute to the likes of Planet Earth, An Inconvenient Truth, the James Bond film A View to A Kill, and Black Hawk Down.
Jerry wrote, directed and flew his helicopter on the IMAX film The Earth Wins filming above New Orleans 48 hours after Hurricane Katrina struck, over the aftermath of Black Saturday in Australia’s state of Victoria, as well as above Europe, the UK, Africa, the Middle and Far East.
He was the first person to ever fly between the twin Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur, filmed over the burning oil fires just months after Sadam Hussein’s troops pulled out of Kuwait, and at NASA’s Johnson and Kennedy space centres with NASA and ESA astronauts.
In the world of sport, Jerry’s first world broadcast came from the Sarajevo Winter Olympics in 1984. He went on to command the entire airspace over Melbourne for the Commonwealth Games and over Doha for the Asian Games, in addition to his flying and aerial directing roles using ten helicopters at the Athens Olympics and seven at the South Africa Soccer World Cup.
Jerry also flew the Melbourne, UK, Brazil and South Korea F1 Motor Racing Grand Prix, and supplied the aerial filming unit for the worldwide broadcast at all motor races, from 2010-2013. He filmed Mark Webber’s last-ever race in F1, which he describes as heart-stopping.
Just a few months into 2015, Jerry’s three decades of flying experiences almost entirely vanished into thin air – drones had arrived and taken over. Jerry had to deal with the most extreme form of disruption; when the career he’d so successfully built simply ceased to exist. To enable him and his team to move forward positively, Jerry had to recognise the disruption, address it and learn a whole new way of doing his job.
Jerry has written two books, Rescue Pilot (2015) details Jerry’s story, offering an inside view of his heroic service. It is an inspirational and celebratory account, excitingly told, frequently funny and highly poignant. Film Pilot: from James Bond to Hurricane Katrina (2017), tells often humorous behind the scenes stories such as working with the indomitable Grace Jones on A View to a Kill, the awe-inspiring story of filming at NASA’s Kennedy Space Centre from the top of the shuttle launch pad, and holding his nerve as 1bn of the world’s population watched him at work, as Jerry filmed the opening and closing ceremonies of Athens Summer Olympics. Both books were released by Bloomsbury Publishing worldwide.
Jerry Grayson speaks about:
Teamwork – Success in any field will always depend on how well you operate with those who surround you. Jerry speaks about the key elements to a successful team, and compares and contrasts the differences between his small and highly practiced military team versus his larger crews who needed to hit the ground running on major television events, many of whom had never even met each other before day one.
Digital Disruption and Drones – Within a few months during early 2015, Jerry’s three decades of work and experience in flying on major cinema and television productions almost entirely vanished into thin air when the drones arrived and took over. Jerry talks about what he did to address the arrival of drones and move forward positively with his team.
Diversity and dealing with Culture Change – Jerry inspires and educates by reflecting on his career managing aerial broadcast teams (working on the Olympics and similar global events) where he encountered new challenges when dealing with people from diverse cultures and social backgrounds.
Perspective in conflict – It’s perfectly possible for each party to simultaneously be entirely right and entirely wrong, both at the same time. Drawing on his own life experience, Jerry teaches his audiences how and why to take the other guy’s perspective, just for a few seconds.
Passion and Inspiration (for a younger audience) – Jerry draws on his own experiences and that of family to inspire young people and young managers to find their passion and find their inspiration… “The rest will follow. Go out there and do it.”
Leadership and Decision Making – Not until you’re faced with a true dilemma do you properly learn what it is to lead and what it is to carry the burden of your decisions, sometimes for the rest of your life. When the decision you make will impact others, the implications get wider. When another human being will potentially live or die as a direct result of your decision the stakes are at their highest.
Jerry talks about learning to make decisions quickly, to communicate them clearly and to act upon them without looking backwards.
Resilience and stretching your own boundaries – None of us ever know if or when we will be called upon, by circumstances way outside our control, to go beyond what we have previously perceived to be our boundaries. Jerry draws on his experiences to provide audiences with the confidence to persevere and stretch their own boundaries.
Finding the Motivation to be the Best at What You Do and Recognition for What You Do – Jerry draws on his experiences to inspire people to be the very best at what they do regardless of thanks or praise.
Disaster Management in a Crisis – Disasters, of any kind, are characterised by lack of time and lack of structure. Every person regardless of rank, must perform at their very best, thinking for themselves and acting with courage and conviction. Jerry inspires his audiences to regard disaster as an opportunity to shine, to contribute, and to make a difference.
Cryptocurrency, The Metaverse, NFTs and Web 3 – Jerry has been using his mastery of drones to create virtual and three-dimensional models of real-world assets. His resultant experience within the Metaverse then led to a comprehensive understanding of cryptocurrency, art NFTs and the world of Web 3.0 – all subjects on which he now teaches in a clearly accessible way.
If my life was hanging from a thread and I needed to be rescued, there is no-one I would trust more than Jerry Grayson. There is no better person than Jerry (Grayson) to speak with confidence and humility about the power of Mother Nature, the challenges of survival in an ever-changing environment, and the thrill of success!
- The School of Earth Sciences at the University of Melbourne
Jerry has the rare capacity to present the most serious issues we face as a global community in an engaging, articulate and humorous way. He is warm, witty, considered and poignant. He thankfully steers well clear of the evangelical approach but is extraordinarily adept in allowing the message to speak for itself. I highly recommend Jerry Grayson; he is a highly intelligent and entertaining speaker who would add enormous value in both educational and corporate settings.
-Newington College, Sydney
Jerry Grayson presented as our keynote speaker on Day 1 of the RMIA National Conference in Canberra. Jerry captivated the audience with the stories of his career and his rescue missions and he was also able to connect the audiences interest in ‘risk’ with his critical decisions, leadership and team work as a rescue pilot. Jerry's openness to questions and willingness to mingle with the delegates was also very popular. I have no hesitation in recommending Jerry as an engaging speaker for any event!
- Risk Management Institute of Australasia (RMIA)
When Jerry spoke to a group of emerging young leaders from Swimming Victoria clubs recently he was given the ‘graveyard session' - the last session of a long day. Yet he enthralled and challenged his audience for the whole hour... No matter your audience I cannot recommend Jerry highly enough. You will be awe struck, inspired and uplifted.