From Cadet to Captain – After 20 years in aviation Karl takes us on his own flying journey

From Cadet to Captain – After 20 years in aviation Karl takes us on his own flying journey

Karl joined Flying Pig & Elstree Helicopters in October and makes up one half of our Operations Team. As Karl has experience of the PPL process we have asked him to tell us a little bit about his flying journey…

Since a young age I have always had a passion for aviation and have worked in the aviation industry for the majority of my working life. As a member of the Air Cadets I was lucky to do my first air experience flight in a De Havilland Chipmunk at the age of 13, this was my first time off the ground and an amazing experience. A couple of years later with the Cadets I started volunteering to work on pleasure flying sites for a company called Cabair based at Elstree. For the next 3 years on most summer weekends we would fly around the country in various helicopters arriving at country shows and selling 5 minutes pleasure flights. We worked with a great bunch of pilots and often would get to have a go at the controls on positioning flights, I well and truly got the bug.

I left school and worked for Cabair full time as a ground handler and became friends with a couple of R22 instructors, I would sit in on their ground school lessons and the more I learnt, the more I wanted to do my licence. So with the help of 3 jobs and a bank loan I started my training. I will never forget my first solo at the age of 19 which included a go around and second circuit, my instructor to this day still thinks I just wanted another go.  I loved the challenge navigating cross country solo and the sense of achievement landing back at Elstree. My intention was to eventually work through the instructor route but the airlines came calling and I left Elstree for my first Operations job.

My wife says I learned to fly to impress the girls but truthfully in this continually connected world we live in today, flying gives me the feeling of escapism and freedom. Not to forget the feeling of adventure, there’s nothing like it. It’s been over 20 years since I have flown myself, but the bug is still there, so who knows one day I may go back.

There must be something about Elstree that keeps pulling me back as I find myself coming full circle and to Flying Pig & Elstree Helicopters who now operate out of the same building as Cabair did all those years ago!


Thinking about starting your flying journey? Email or call 0207 118 8998

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