My Journey to Becoming a Helicopter Pilot

One of the most recent additions to our team, Jack Schofield, tells us all about his journey to becoming a helicopter pilot and his career so far:

When I was just 7 years old, I was lucky enough to go for a helicopter flight, from then onwards that was all I wanted to do, I was hooked!

In my teens, I started to help out at the weekends with Pennine Helicopters and Adventure 001. I worked as ground crew and my duties involved setting up pleasure flying events, organising and loading passengers, fuelling the helicopter and anything else that was useful. I really enjoyed working on the ground, I learnt a lot about helicopter operations and it made me even more eager to get flying.

As soon as I finished school I started training for my private pilot’s licence with Multiflight at Leeds Bradford Airport. I trained fairly intensively, around working on a farm and for Pennine helicopters, and managed to gain my private pilot’s licence in 5 months whilst I was still only 18 years old. 

I spent the next 18 months or so studying for the commercial pilot exams. Around the studying, I took every opportunity possible to build up my flying experience. This included positioning aircraft to events, taking helicopters to maintenance and any repositioning/ferry flying I could find. I also did lots of ‘sitting in on jobs’ with experienced pilots which enabled me to learn more about the job as well as improve my flying skills. My favourite trip was collecting a helicopter from Austria, although flying through Europe was a bit daunting at first, I found it a lot easier than expected. The weather was perfect and the scenery was stunning, a great adventure was had and some valuable experience gained.

The next step was the commercial flying course. This was about 5 weeks of flying training, day and night, followed by a test with a CAA examiner. I was very pleased to pass the test and be issued with a commercial pilots licence at the age of 20. Now to get to work!

Finding work when you have a fresh commercial pilots licence isn’t very easy, you have to be prepared to do whatever, wherever. Fortunately, I had made some good contacts so was able to start doing some commercial flying quite quickly. Initially, I was working for Adventure 001 and Pennine Helicopters flying tours at the weekends in Bell 206 Jetrangers and Longrangers. This is a fantastic way to build experience and hone your flying skills. Typically we would fly 7 hours per day at the weekends so your flying hours rack up very quickly. I did this alongside some work for private helicopter owners and charter operators.

The next stage for me was to complete an instrument rating. I chose to do this at Sloane Helicopters on the Agusta 109. This qualification enables you to fly a multi-engine helicopter in poor weather, which when you are working in the UK is quite useful! 

I’m now flying the Agusta 109 and twin squirrel for Atlas Helicopters and loving it! We provide a luxury helicopter travel solution 24 hours a day, 7 days a week all over the UK. We do anything from taking people to business meetings, property viewings, music festivals, sporting events, weekends away or even delivering urgent items across the country. If you want to get somewhere quickly and in comfort, we can help.

Reach out to our operations team for all of your private luxury helicopter travel requirements: https://www.atlashelicopters.co.uk/contact-us/

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