Up, up, and away with Central Helicopters
My other half is a tad obsessed with cars, motorbikes, tanks; basically a fan of anything with an engine that either goes like the clappers or is a military vehicle. So, when I was looking around for an experience gift that he hadn’t tried, but wouldn’t break the bank, I was amazed to find a helicopter flying experience with Central Helicopters at a great affordable price.
He’s always wanted to have a helicopter lesson having been a passenger many times over the years in various military varieties but never thought he would get the chance to fly one, until now. Cue me scoring major wife points when I presented him with a taster flying lesson for Christmas!
The date was set for June at Central Helicopters head quarters and fabulous new Heliport near Widmerpool, Nottingham. When we initially booked everything in on a cold January day at the start of the year we naively thought that we might be able to at least expect some sunshine for the flight but sadly this was not to be the case and drizzle followed by full on rain was the order of the day! Still, play was not rained off and when we arrived together we settled in to watch the previous lessons with a latte served up from Central Helicopters great onsite cafe.
The plan was that I would watch from the shelter of the ‘departure lounge’ (no doubt with that piece of cake that I’d had my eye on since walking through the door) and take photographic and video proof that he had indeed flown!
The instructor and Pilot for the day was James who came and introduced himself to the three people taking a flying experience that morning including my other half. The experiences vary between 15 and 60 minutes flying time with a pre flight briefing and introduction to the helicopter, I’d chosen a 15 minute flight which with the briefing made the full experience an hour.
Read on to discover what it was really like to take to the skies and the overall verdict…
‘Feeling slightly apprehensive the three of us followed James into the large hanger on the heliport and straight away were introduced to a beautiful black Robinson R22 two seat helicopter. James gathered us around and proceeded to give us a full run down about the helicopter make and then introduced us to the vast array of knobs and dials that made up the dashboard…lots to take in and a little daunting that each of us would be taking these controls in less than 20 minutes time! James however put us all at ease and as he would be giving us one to one tuition both on the ground and whilst in flight we felt in safe hands! The R22 also had dual control which took me back to my days of learning to drive, I’d never imagined at 17 that one day I would be taking the controls of a helicopter though…shouldn’t we have L plates?!
I was the first up for the flight. After a quick recap it was over to me and with James talking me through each step I was soon airborne and off. It was absolutely exhilarating to take off in this amazing machine and better still to soar over the Nottinghamshire countryside even taking the flight over the dual carriage way. As when in a plane the flight always feels slower to the speed you are actually going and this was no exception in the helicopter as I was surprised to find that I was going at around 100mph!
After around 5 minutes we started to make a decent to the heliport where we moved on to the more difficult task of actually controlling the helicopter, making it hover and turning it without losing control, easier said than done! This was so hard and the lightest of touches could accelerate or make the helicopter swing out of control. All my little grey cells were fixed on the challenge and I hope that I did ok, there were certainly no attempts by my instructor to take the wheel as it were unlike my days learning to drive!
After learning to successfully land and with my 15 minutes at an end (which had flown by pardon the pun!) I handed over the reins to the next trainee and James took them up and off once more.
I found that I was literally beaming from ear to ear when I made my way back into the cafe and was presented with my certificate. It was such a fabulous experience that I couldn’t recommend more highly. The briefing and instruction that James gave was outstanding as were all the team at Central Helicopters who made my morning with them so much fun but an experience that I will always remember. As I can always add my time in flight to gain my helicopter pilots licence in the future, who knows, I may be back to clock up a few more air miles with the team!’
Why not book a flying experience for yourself or someone you know, find out more information here on helicopter lessons, pleasure flights and all that Nottinghamshire based Central Helicopters can offer.
Blog written by Anna – our Membership Accounts Coordinator