With all this talk about turning 30, I’ve forgotten to mention and write about the big 30th birthday present I bought for David. For such a big milestone (although that makes it sound scary), I wanted to get a present that was a kind of a big deal.
When I had the eureka moment – a helicopter lesson! – the deal was pretty much sealed. I shopped around before settling on Polar Helicopters (who are also local to us!). So I thought I’d share with you our experience, as guys can be pretty tough to buy presents for, especially special, milestone, hey-you’re-30! type of presents. Here’s some pictures from the day, with a few good-to-knows before you or a loved one take to the skies too!
Before taking flight
I did a lot of sneaking around before David’s birthday (like compiling his life photos) and soon I discovered that I needed his exact height (easy enough) and weight (not so easy…) too. At 6ft 4, he can make a number of things look small – myself included! – and combined with his weight (which I can’t recall now) a 2 seated helicopter began to sound a rather tight fit.
Having a maximum height and weight for a helicopter scarily brings things into prospective doesn’t it? The only mode of air transport I’ve travelled with is of course a passenger airline carrier. I might fret about how much I can squash and squeeze into my hand luggage, but I’ve never stopped to think about why there is a weight limit.
A 4 person helicopter it had to be… but this also had its perks.
Learning to Fly
A 20 minute flight lesson in a 4 seated helicopter (a Robinson R44) set me back £195 at the time. A bigger helicopter did mean a bigger price, but on the plus side I was allowed to jump in the passengers seat and go along for the ride too!
As this was David’s first ever helicopter lesson, the co-pilot performed take off and landing, but handed over the controls for basic manoeuvring. Despite helicopter controls being extremely sensitive, David seemed to pick these up quickly and soon even making some turns. (Imagine that, flying a helicopter for real! I don’t bat an eyelid when making a 3-point turn in my car…)
Passing with flying colours
I didn’t realise this little gift voucher for a 20 minute flight would count towards the 45 hours of lessons you must take to become a pilot too. Polar Helicopters kindly provided a certificate and the time he spent flying in a logbook, if David should decided to continue lessons (for which we’d need to win the lottery first).
The experience was just as thrilling from the passenger’s seat too. I had a great flight with Polar Helicopters, the patchwork of the Kent countryside and coastline beneath me provided some stunning views, which I enjoyed all the more from not driving!