Learn To Fly a Helicopter – FAQ

Many people think that learning to fly a helicopter would be beyond their capabilities. Often, people who would make perfectly capable helicopter pilots are intimidated and, perhaps understandably, lack the confidence to take the first step in learning to fly. In fact, we train helicopter pilots from many different walks of life. Our student helicopter pilot FAQ below answers just a few of the questions we’re often asked about learning to fly helicopters in Yorkshire.

Are there any age limits?

There’s no upper age limit and as long as you are reasonably fit & well. Flight training can begin at 14 years old but solo flights cannot be undertaken before the age of 16 years. You need to be 17 years old to gain a pilot’s licence. We’ve trained several pilots who’ve learned after retirement, so as long as you’re enthusiastic and want to learn something new, it’s never too late to start!

Flying helicopters isn't as daunting as it seems
Flying helicopters isn’t as daunting as it seems

Are there any height or weight limits?

We use Robinson R44, four seat helicopters for training. The weight limit of the R44 is no heavier than 21 stone (134kg) per seat. As long as you can reach the pedals, height is generally no problem, we have several pilots well over six feet tall.

We use the four seat rather than the two seat aircraft because it’s far more representative of the helicopter you’re likely to fly once you’re fully qualified. Also, as your training progresses, it’s sometimes possible to bring along a friend for a flight with your instructor and encourage others to try flying helicopters! Plus you have the added bonus of a Robinson R44 rating on your helicopter pilot licence when you’ve qualified. Read more about why we use the Robinson R44 here.

Do I need to pass a medical?

You only need to be reasonably fit and healthy to be a passenger. For obvious reasons a pilot needs to pass some basic medical checks. A Class 2 medical is required for a private pilots licence and a Class 1 medical is required for an instructor or commercial pilots licence. Certain conditions like epilepsy or anything causing blackouts would unfortunately bar you from becoming a pilot. However we can put you in contact with CAA approved doctors in your local area who can issue medical certificates. If in doubt then please consult your GP in the first instance for advice.

What if I wear glasses?

Glasses for general reading or driving are perfectly acceptable. The rules and limits on pilot eyesight requirements are set out in full on this page at the CAA website.

Is it safe?

Our instructors and commercial pilots are trained to CAA / EASA standards, and are fully CAA / EASA licenced & approved. They undergo annual safety checks and medicals for fitness to fly as well as having many 100’s, and often 1000’s of hours experience. Our AOC licence from the CAA commits us to very stringent safe working methods of operation and our aircraft undergo regular compulsory safety checks and maintenance. The maintenance has to be done at an approved maintenance organisation. Should an engine failure happen then pilots are trained to glide the aircraft to a safe landing called an auto-rotation. So you can see we take safety very seriously, ensuring that pilots and aircraft are fit for purpose. Sherburn Airfield is a CAA licenced airfield.

How many hours does it take to get a pilot’s licence?

The CAA minimum is 45 hours. The UK average is about 65 hours however at Hields Aviation the typical time taken to obtain your licence is about 55 hours.

Exams worry me, are they difficult?

All the written subjects use multi-choice tests where the pass mark is 75%. As long as you have read & understood the course books and completed sample questions then there’s no reason why you shouldn’t pass the tests first time. You can study for as long as you need to and then take a particular test. Our experienced instructors are always willing to assist your studying, and are happy to answer questions.

How long is my licence valid for?

Your pilots licence needs to be validated every year for each type of helicopter that you are rated on. You need to fly a minimum of 2 hours on each type per year. You need to keep your medical certificate current – the period between checks being dependent on your age and licence type.

How do I get started for a helicopter pilots licence?

The best way to experience helicopters is to book a trial lesson with us. We’ll brief you about the helicopter and you’ll experience the controls one by one to learn their effects. If you like the thrilling experience, and we are sure you will, then it’s just matter of booking lessons on the formal course and doing them as regularly as you wish.