First flight to the edge of the “Jungle” of London’s Airspace
This flight is the first full day trip during PPL training. It is the navigation flight that “puzzles” together all the parts trained towards the upcoming X-Country Qualifying Flight. Many radio stations to contact, constant chart reading, airports & airfields to cross and accurate flying to navigate legally around London‘s controlled airspace.
As for every navigation flight, it all starts with detailed planning. The Destination Aerodrome in Denham is situated inside the CTR of London‘s, just on the edge to be correct. So we do not really fly around in the CTR of London for long, but we have to sneek inside the airspace under a given altitude to be legal and approach Denham from there.
A trip to “Disney Land” – HQ Aviation Ltd in Denham
Flying into Denham does not feel like being in the most congested airspace of the globe at all – it looks like a totally remote place flying over some lakes in a beautiful landscape. But also, it does not look anything like a helicopter‘s paradise – I do not see a single helicopter on approach – just a few closed hangars.
My expectations are completely slammed, until the doors open just wide enough to let us get in with our Lady Helicopter.
From here, I am walking around bright-eyed for the next few hours and can’t stop wondering where we just entered.
I have never seen so many helicopters before and I am surprised how close you can squeeze them into such a small space.
It’s also the first time I realise how small the R22 actually is. Smaller than the original Mini Cooper. It looks like a bee standing next to it’s bigger brother, the R44.
Look inside Helicopters & inside parts of Helicopters
For a novice helicopter pilot this place is absolutely stunning. To see opened and ripped apart helicopters and, to see even deeper inside opened parts for maintenance, is really interesting. The mechanics are very proud of their job and are happy to explain what they are working on. My personal respect for their amazing work and the fantastic engineering that lets us fly those birds increases even further.
The Turbine Helicopter in the Robinson Family – R66
We are happy enough to arrive on the day that the company gets back its first R66 helicopter to maintain, the turbine of the Robinson family. An impressive machine. Perhaps one day? The mechanic tells us that it has an additional fuel tank and the owner flew it over from Frankfurt in Germany on a non-stop flight. Really? I am bluffed … But not enough …
World Record – Around the globe in R44 Helicopter
Before we fly back, we talk about the flight in the maintenance company’s office. Again, a fantastic place with pictures of impressive helicopter trips they did from here. I can literally smell the groove & spirit of true adventurers.
All of a sudden, the owner of the company walks in – Mr. Quentin Smith aka “Captain Q”. He is a famous helicopter pilot who flies really weird manoeuvres like a ballet dancer – Example Video – and constantly travels to amazing places. He also holds the world record for the fastest circumnavigation of the globe in a piston engine, in a R44. “What – really – around the world??” Well, he did it more than once …
My original questions – after the first trip to another airfield – about where I could fly to with the R22 gets completely pulverised. Perhaps I should plan to fly a newbie‘s record during hours building – maybe from Goodwood back home to Switzerland and land on the Matterhorn?
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