It’s not all gold bars and raybans – a day in the life of a helicopter instructor

It’s not all gold bars and raybans – a day in the life of a helicopter instructor

A day as a flight instructor can be eventful and busy, so I thought maybe you’d be curious to know what we get up to at Flying Pig and Elstree Helicopters. Here is an insight into a fairly varied but quite typical day as a Flight Instructor.



I arrive into work an hour before my first flight. This gives me some time to have a look at my schedule for the day, get some admin work completed, pre-flight the helicopter and do some preparation i.e checking NOTAMs, Royal Flights, refuel and calculate weight and balance.



The first flight is a trial lesson session for which our customers arrive 15 minutes early for check-in. With the helicopter already fuelled and checked, we double check everyone’s weight and then it’s time for me to fill out some paperwork in relation the flight. I also need to book out with the tower over the phone so that they know what we’re up to. This particular flight is a group of 6 people, all flying for 15minutes each in our R22 Beta 2– G-FOLI.



The group has been shown our safety video, briefed on the helicopter and they have run through our changeover procedures by the ground handler. With our first pilot on board, it’s time to start up. The whole flight lasts an hour and 30minutes, with 6 changeovers. Each person gets a go on the controls with a chance at hovering if there is time.



My next student has arrived – this time we’re in our R44 Raven 2 – G-HALS. The student is getting ready to go solo so this flight includes practicing approaches and departures, take offs and landings, and also running through emergencies in the circuit at the airport. It’s important to make sure that the student is a safe and competent pilot before sending them out on their own so we do spend quite a lot of time flying these manoeuvres.



A quick break in the day for me to eat lunch and prepare for my last flight of the day.



My last student is fairly new to flying and so we’re still in the initial exercises of the syllabus. We do a full briefing in the classroom on Attitude and Power Changes which is teaching them how to set speeds and power settings. We set out in our Cabri G2 – G-FPEH after paperwork and booking out and we run through the start up methodically as this is only the 3rd or 4th time of doing it. An hour later, we are return to the airport to complete the lesson and debrief on the flight.



The last 30 minutes are spent updating student files so that the other instructors know what progress has been made, and finishing up on any admin work.

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