Capt. White hits 7000hrs : Where it all began… From falling in love to my first lesson

Capt. White hits 7000hrs : Where it all began… From falling in love to my first lesson

As far back as I can remember I’ve always had a passion for flying. Initially it was aeroplanes, simply because it was easy to make paper aeroplanes! As I got a little older I progressed from paper to model aeroplanes and later radio-controlled aeroplanes. I think I was 14 years old when I first took to the skies up in a PA28 flying out of Panshanger, Herts. The instructor’s name was Capt. Dodd and I remember explaining to him that I was already quite an accomplished radio-controlled airplane pilot to which he replied “Well in that case you can take-off then” and so I did… in hindsight I feel certain it was aided somewhat by Capt. Dodd.

Soon after I was lucky enough to have a ride in a helicopter at a local country fair, it was from that point on that my love affair with helicopters began. I shelved all the RC planes and bought my first RC helicopter. Many happy hours flying later, RC piloting led me to meet a gentleman called Martin Woods. Martin owned a Gazelle and he was starting a business purchasing ex-military Gazelles and refurbishing them for the civilian market. It dawned on me that it was possible to not only learn to fly, but own and create a successful business from helicopters.

I was aware that a career in aviation wasn’t going to cheap and without a wealthy background it was down to me to finance my dream. I finished my education and focused on my other passion engineering and specifically mechanics and of course CARS! By the time I was 21 I had my own business and after 2 years I was finally able to start my flying journey!

I set about finding the right flying school for me, living in East Herts there was plenty of choice. Knowing that this wasn’t just going to be a hobby I wanted a school with a long-standing reputation, plenty of experienced instuctors and the ability to not only guide me through my PPL(H) but offer support beyond.

Having visited flying schools in Cambridge, Bedfordshire even as far flung as Northampton I finally settled on Burman Aviation based at Cranfield Airport, which later became Patriot Aviation. The instructors were genuinely enthusiastic about my career goals and passionate about teaching and not using students to hour build. The aircraft were in excellent condition with a large enough fleet to give the students plenty of choice. Ultimately my decision was made emotionally… I just had a feeling this was the place for me!

My flying instructor Capt. Jonathan Rolfe and I clicked straight away. He was very knowledgeable and spoke about instructing like it was a calling! It wasn’t the best of flying days for my first lesson as the wind was blowing a hooley so we spent 10 mins on the climb out from Cranfield but only travelling around 4 miles! Despite the strong wind, I just about managed to hover briefly on all the controls (the RC heli stuff had finally paid off) and my instructor Capt. J.R. was very impressed.

My feet quite literally didn’t touch the ground for days afterwards I was on such a high. Even now I can remember how it felt and is something I never tire of seeing in our students and experience customers.

If you’re wondering how to begin your flying journey or have started looking at flying schools please contact Harriet our Training Liaison to discuss your options email or call 0208 099 7766 ext. 4 or simply call in for a chat


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