High hopes for Derry's new chopper school
It's a trip that's normally reserved for the rich and famous, but a new helicopter school in Derry is offering local people the chance to get a taste of the high life with a trial lesson in a Robinson helicopter.
The Cutting Edge Helicopter school in Eglinton opened six weeks ago in Airfield Road, and already local interest in learning to fly helicopters has been huge, the current 14 students range from bricklayers to millionaires and car washers to plasterers.
A trial flight in a helicopter is an ideal present for any dad, son or brother, and Cutting Edge are particularly to keen to get their first female pilot trained up.
Operations Manager at Cutting Edge, Jason Porter invited 'Journal' reporters Erin Hutcheon and Stephen Emerson for a 'helicopter experience' in the four seater R44.
Before anything, there's a full safety briefing on the ground. Then it's into the helicopter, headphones and belts on, and we're off.
Inside the chopper is a bit like being in a car, comfortable seats, carpets and a heater.
It took a while for the helicopter to warm up, but after a quick briefing with air traffic control we were on our way.
Pilot Jason explained that things might get a little wiggly once the wind got behind us at the airport. They did, in fact it's more shaky being lower on the ground that higher in the air.
We stopped briefly at City of Derry airport for some photos where we watched a Ryanair plane land before embarking on an aerial tour of the city.
It's not easy to spot your house from an aeroplane but from a chopper you've a better chance. I saw mine and it's easy to spot the landmarks. The helicopter has bubble windows so it's easier to look down.
Instructor Ray Wilson, who's been flying choppers for ten years, explained that controlling a helicopter is a bit like juggling while standing on a beach ball.
"You have to think in three dimensions," he said. "To qualify you have to fly a minimum of 45 hours however we normally find it takes between 55 and 60 hours."
Paul Walsh from Cutting Edge said that 80% of the fundamentals of flying a helicopter are the same as a plane.
"You have your written exams, tests and flights tests," he said, "plus navigation and weather skills are the same.
"We can start training people as young as 13, although they can't get their licence until they are 16. You can legally fly before you can legally drive."
As well as offering complete training for helicopter pilots, Cutting Edge offer a series of helicopter experiences which can be purchased as vouchers for birthdays and presents.
At Cutting Edge you can get you can get a taste high life in a 30 minute or one hour experience. You are free to either sit back and enjoy the ride or take the controls during your first flight!
Full training and support is given.
For more information ring 02871812555 or 07754737565. You can also visit www.cuttingedgehelicopters.com
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Weather for Derry
Friday 24 May 2013
Temperature: 5 C to 12 C
Wind Speed: 16 mph
Wind direction: North
Temperature: 8 C to 16 C
Wind Speed: 13 mph
Wind direction: South west