Helicopter Pilot as a job?
It was a fantastic, sunny but also really windy summer day in August 2014 when I arrived in Goodwood for my trial lesson. This would be my very first flight in a two-seater helicopter!
First, I had a long talk with Captain Toby Chamberlain, Senior Flight Instructor at Phoenix Helicopter Academy, about how the training works and the types of jobs a professional helicopter pilots can do.
That was my clear intention:
– Learn to fly a helicopter as a new profession and as my future dream job.
– For a totally different life in a completely new surrounding, anywhere in the world.
– A serious challenge – the second part of my life.
He explained to me the different job opportunities and highlighted different pathways to get there.
Whatever the next step in the future, it all starts with:
< 1 > Basic PPL and an additional < 2 > CPL training.
Wherever you start to fly, it’s most likely to be in an R22 Helicopter – they are the cheapest training helicopters.
First Flight in a Robinson 22
After almost two hours of discussion and a brief introduction on how the different controls of a helicopter work, we started walking over to the hangar. By the way, he mentioned that it might be a little bumpy today as the wind (more than 20 knots) was on the upper side for the Robinson 22.
Having no clue how a small R22 helicopter feels, I thought this was a perfect day to start and get a clear idea of what I should expect right from the start.
As a future professional pilot, flying on a daily basis, I would not only be flying in sun & fun but also in rougher conditions. I’d prefer to know now if this scares me too much instead of halfway through.
We flew for 30 minutes and he gave me control of all the different parts – always one at a time – one after the other. First, the collective, to adjust the climb & descent, then the pedals and then the cyclic to really steer the machine.
“wow … funny little bird”
I had flown paragliders back home in Switzerland in the Alps but I was really impressed with how very little movement or input produced very quick and quite dynamic reactions in the R22.
Even though I had started to control some parts myself, all impressions were so many, that all the instruments totally disappeared out of my cognitive perceptions as though they were not there at all.
I immediately realised, that without Toby, I would have absolutely no chance of getting back down to earth alive.
Of course, the view was absolutely overwhelming, totally stunning. There is literally nothing around you blocking it and the colours of the shining sea captured my full attention – I had not realised that Goodwood was so close to the sea before. It was like the famous “love at first sight”.
And as I learned later, this will always remain as the one magical part of every flight when learning to fly here.
It’s always shining, but every time it’s different.
Even though 30 minutes does not sound like a very long flight, it felt like a major trip to me.
And I knew: I wanted to fly helicopters even more than before and I really liked this place.
The impressions kept being a crucial part of my dreams every night until I started my training.
Even today, after finishing my PPL(H), I remember this trial lesson very clearly, as if it was yesterday. Even after the trial lesson, if you should decide that this is not likely to be a future passion, it will remain as a unique memory.
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