When most people talk about obtaining a Private Pilot’s License (PPL), the default tends to assume that this will be done on a fixed wing aeroplane. Planes have been around a while longer than helicopters, so perhaps this is natural. Attempting to change a well-established thought process will be no mean feat!
However here’s a few reasons why training for your PPL(H) may be a great alternative to a PPL(A) or even an exciting new flying challenge to existing fixed wing pilots.
Why The PPL(H)?
► Thrill & Excitement
Dip the nose at the start of the take-off run and pull in the power — accelerate to 50kts, and climb away! A completely different feel to rumbling down a bumpy runway in a Cessna; and coupled with a helicopter’s unparalleled forward visibility (you’re not peering over the top of an engine as in a fixed wing), it’s a sensation you won’t tire of.
The key selling point of a helicopter. Whether it’s a high hover at 2000ft, or landing in a confined, off airfield site, the PPL(H) teaches you how to safely use the helicopter to the best of its ability. Once qualified you may self-fly hire a helicopter you are rated on, or perhaps purchase one.
As well as over 3000 listed places to land a helicopter in the UK, provided it is safe & legal, and you have the landowner’s permission, you may land a helicopter anywhere. A helicopter may be used for business — saving valuable time between site meetings for example — or simply for pleasure!
Fancy flying over and landing at Lake Vyrnwy for lunch?
Or perhaps Gliffaes Hall hotel? Sure, why not…
► The Challenge
To fly is heavenly, to hover is divine…!’ — a common phrase in the rotary world. And it really is true. There’s no doubt about it, learning to hover is perhaps the most challenging phase of a PPL(H). People liken it to patting your head & rubbing your belly at the same time. Or balancing the end of a broom in the palm of your hand. Hover training is introduced gradually amongst the early flying exercises of the PPL(H) course. It can be frustrating but the sense of satisfaction when you can do it is immense!
Another common misconception is that helicopters are more dangerous that aeroplanes. This is simply not true.
The helicopter industry is subject to the same stringent safety rules that apply to our fixed wing counterparts. Helicopters, just like fixed wing, follow a strict maintenance schedule. Pilots are regulated and required to have regular medicals and check flights, and the training course is designed to have the largest safety margins possible.
A lot of people also labor under the impression that if an engine failure does occur (thankfully a very, very rare occurrence) that the helicopter will simply fall out of the sky. Again, not true. An ‘autorotation’ is the helicopter equivalent of an aeroplane gliding. Following an engine failure a helicopter can ‘autorotate’ (much like a sycamore seed), to a safe forced landing in a space not much bigger than a tennis court.
► An additional Licence
A PPL(H) doesn’t have to just be for an ab initio student.
Many students who learn to fly helicopters may already be a fully qualified & experienced PPL(A) holder. In fact, one of our recent students at Tiger Helicopters was a fully qualified ATPL(A) holder with over 5000 hours experience on Boeing 737s. He commented that learning to fly helicopters completely recaptured his love for flying, and because of the differences in learning to fly helicopters, all those feelings of nervous excitement not felt since his initial PPL(A) training came flooding back!
► Weather Conditions
The weather doesn’t affect us during training as much as it does fixed wing. Training flights can be carried out 85% of the time in the UK. Even when cloud base is down as low as 100ft, we can still be out practising take off, landing, hovering, spot turns, backwards and side-ways hovering, quick stops, downwind quick stops, etc.
► Enjoyment/Social Side
We’re a very friendly bunch! This isn’t to say that the fixed wing world isn’t — but you may find that your local helicopter school is tucked away at the edge of an airfield rather than perhaps in the main buildings of an airfield. In fairness, they (fixed wing) were probably there first!
But don’t be shy, come over & see us. Most helicopter schools will be equipped with a kettle, so a cup of coffee will be on the house! Like fixed wing flying, a trial lesson is the best way to see if it’s for you.
Tiger Helicopters — Shobdon, Herefordshire
Here at Tiger Helicopters we give instruction to people wanting to enjoy flying helicopters for a hobby and to those who want to pursue a career as a pilot themselves. Initially started as a one man operation some 20 years ago, our business quickly grew and we at Tiger have been extremely lucky to have employed a fantastic team of both instructors and support staff over the years which have helped us develop from a single R22 Helicopter (G-MICH) operating from an old Nissan hut, to arguably the best civilian helicopter training facility in the country.
The UK School is beginning to grow again as the UK’s economy recovers from a difficult recession. We remain firmly committed to our UK school and it is great to see an upturn in students coming through our doors, ready for the excitement and challenge of helicopter flight! Many of our students travel great distances to train with us, which is very humbling. Hopefully it’s because of our world class facilities and excellent instruction…but the unrestricted Class G airspace and beautiful Herefordshire countryside may be a draw too!
Whether it’s UK or overseas students, the global demand for helicopter pilots is increasing rapidly. Tiger’s ambition is to keep re-investing in the business to meet this growing need. Currently capacity would be 60 overseas students as well as a thriving UK school. As for the future? The sky’s the limit..!
Telephone: 01568 708 028