Capt White hits 7000hrs : From building hours to building a Flying School
Having been through the PPL process and seen the passion my instructor JR had, it helped cement my career goal of opening my own flying school so my sights were well and truly set on becoming an instructor sooner rather than later. And once I started to take passengers it became even more apparent by the enjoyment and sense of pride I had in taking new people up that had never flown before and being a part of their thrill and excitement.
I spent all my free time hour building practising manoeuvres in preparation for the instructor course and flying across different terrains, even trips to places as far flung as le Touquet. Looking back, these were great times… I would take a helicopter home with me for several days at a time, so it really was like having my own 😊
Soon I had accrued enough hours to go on the Instructor course assessment day with the late Mike Green which went well and booked myself in for a six week one to one course with a very strict ex-military pilot who was Head of Training at Burman Aviation where I did my PPL training.
The course is usually run with at least three candidates but as it was only me, I had the full attention of the instructor instructor and believe me, it was relentless! The first two weeks of the course didn’t seem too bad as I was receiving all the instruction but then weeks three to six were my turn to teach it all back to him. Can you imagine just how difficult it was attempting to instruct a much older, extremely experienced, ex-military pilot who everybody in the company feared, as if he was a fresh new student? Throughout the process, we got to know one another quite well but he never once dropped his professionalism and it’s something that I do my best to maintain even today after all these years. After six weeks the time had come to take my AOC (assessment of competence) with Mike Green. All went extremely well, and I passed with flying colours.
After becoming a fully-fledged Flying Instructor, I was able to teach at Burman Aviation as they done my training. Now, it was time for the challenge of gaining my first student… I was lucky enough to be passed a student by the chief flying instructor there. The student was Joe. Joe had been learning to fly a while and was a really nice chap but with no natural flying skills. I quickly realised this wasn’t going to be easy, but with patience and a bit of hard work he gradually gained all the skills and finally took his PPL skill test and passed with a great feedback from the examiner. The phrase ‘the impossible I can do straight away but miracles take a little longer’ became a bit of a motto for me after that as I soon became the ‘go to’ instructor for students that were struggling with their PPL training.
Burman Aviation was taken over by Patriot Aviation and after a few years I became the Chief Flying Instructor and managed to turn what was a failing flying school into a busy successful one.
I was still running my own business alongside my flying career and although I dreamed of flying full time at my own school, with a young family the head had to rule the heart for a while longer. When Patriot Aviation changed management, they decided that it couldn’t possibly have a part time CFI which although annoying at the time, in hindsight, gave me the push I needed to start my own operation and I purchased my first R22 😊 Incidentally, that flying school soon fell apart in my absence and eventually ceased trading, which made me the only helicopter operator left at Cranfield.
I shared premises with a fixed wing company there and gradually the balance of flying started to change and I put the wheels in motion to look for a larger, permanent premises for my own flying school and finally put those long held dreams into practise!