Central Helicopters team members will be putting their best feet forward in the fight against cancer, and they’d love your support. 

Ian and Marilyn will be lacing up their trainers and hitting the streets to raise valuable funds for Cancer Research UK by taking part in the Shine Night Walk Half Marathon in London on September 22.

Having been personally affected by cancer herself, this is a cause and event particularly close to Finance Director Marilyn’s heart, as she explains: “Fortunately I have been lucky enough not to have had re-occurrences so far after being diagnosed with rectal cancer in 2015 and undergoing treatment and surgery.

“We are hoping to raise as much as possible towards research in combatting cancer. I didn’t realise how many people and their families are affected until I was diagnosed myself. Your help would be very much appreciated!

All the team at Central Helicopters would really value your support by making a donation to help fight this terrible disease which claims so many lives each year. Please visit Ian and Marilyn’s Giving Page.

Learn more about the Shine Night Walk Half Marathon.


PPL(H) ground exams – the essentials

We won’t pretend they are the most fun part of training, but PPL(H) ground exams are a vital component of the process, so there’s no getting away from them. 

The knowledge that you gain from studying for your PPL(H) ground exams will greatly enhance your overall understanding of flying, making you a better and safer pilot.

Here at Central Helicopters we are approved by the CAA to offer the exams in-house, which is what we have been doing for 10-plus years. Our ground school programme is run by a team of instructors who are experienced in teaching all PPL(H) subjects. So, what are the subjects, and what’s covered in the exams?

What are the exams?

The PPL(H) exams are split into nine sections, and all the exams are multiple choice. The exams do vary though on number of questions, and overall exam time.

You must complete and pass all required theoretical knowledge exams within 18 months, counted from the end of the calendar month in which you first attempted one of the required exams.

If you fail an exam you will need to undertake further training at an ATO, and how much training you will have to take will be at their discretion.

What do I need to score to pass the PPL(H) ground exams?

The pass mark for each exam is 75%.

What are they, and what’s covered?

Aviation law

Aviation law is very important for any pilot, as it can be used in all types of aviation. The subject includes topics such as rules of the air, lights and signals, emergencies, legislation, airspace, and PPL Licence.

Operational Procedures 

This looks in detail at helicopter specific operating procedures, such as dynamic rollover, blade sailing and ground resonance, as well as airfield operating procedures such as signage and signal squares.

Aircraft General Knowledge

Aircraft General Knowledge tests your basic understanding of the helicopter, and its components. Pilots are expected to understand the basics about an aircraft’s electrical, mechanical and hydraulic systems, as well its engine and instrumentation.

Flight Performance and Planning

Do you know how your helicopter is performing at all times through-out your flight? Performance and Planning includes assessments of weather and possible danger areas, but you’ll also need to perform specific calculations based on areas such as weights and balances, and navigation plots.

Human Performance and Limitations

Human factors, both physiological and psychological, influence all aspects of flying a helicopter. Pilots will need an understanding of specifics like illusions by day and night, as well as a broader knowledge of the body, such as the respiratory and nervous system.


The Communications subject focuses on the theory behind using the aircraft’s radio. The Communications exam is the shortest, and considered one of the simplest. Expect questions on VHF (Very High Frequency) radio communications and radio telephony (RT) equipment.


The weather can be an important factor when flying, so pilots must be capable of making informed decisions based on weather forecasts. Pilots should possess an excellent knowledge about weather theory, and be able to interpret weather briefing forms and documents. 

Principles of Flight

Pilots must understand the principles behind ‘flight’. The subject looks at why aircraft fly, lift, drag, helicopter rotor dynamics, as well as specific flight conditions.


Pilots must be able to navigate the aircraft, so developing good navigational skills is essential.

Need some additional help?

At an additional cost, our skilled, knowledgeable pilots can provide tuition either as part of a group, or one-on-one. For further details, call 01664 823846. Find out more about PPL(H) training.

helicopter charter flight

There’s nothing quite like taking a helicopter flight, especially when it’s privately booked just for you. 
Whether it is beating the traffic jams when flying to a summer sports event like the British Grand Prix, making the ultimate entrance on your wedding day, or whisking away that special someone for a romantic escape, a helicopter charter flight is unforgettable.

And, with the glorious sunny days showing no sign of ending, there has never been a better time to enjoy the experience.

Sporting events 

There are still some big sporting events in the UK this year; why not arrive in style via a helicopter charter flight? Horse racing, motorsport, golf… whatever your passion, we can fly you to many of the UK’s biggest sporting events. All you need to do is focus on the excitement of the event, and leave the rest to us. We can arrange collection from your door and take you to your chosen event.  

An exclusive dinner

Why not fly away for a romantic heli-dining experience? We can arrange a unique VIP dining experience, which starts with a complementary bottle of bubbly at our state-of-the-art heliport, before you’ll be stepping aboard one of our comfortable helicopters, of which you’ll have exclusive use of. And, we’ll then give you an unforgettable aerial tour of Nottingham, before we fly you in to your chosen restaurant.

Business flights 

The stunning UK landscapes have never looked so good. If you are a professional photographer or a client looking for stunning aerial shots, then a helicopter charter flight can be arranged which can suit every photographic project.

The Robinson R44 can accommodate up to three passengers and is ideal when using larger equipment for filming. If you require space for more passengers or have multiple cameras to carry, we can offer our Bell 206 Longranger, with the capacity to carry up to six passengers – ideal for aerial filming and TV work.

All of our aircraft can be flown with the doors removed allowing crystal clear aerial images.

These are just a few reasons for planning a helicopter charter flight. For more, and for details about pricing, go to www.centralhelicopters.com/private-flights/ or call 01664 823 846.

Helicopter training away days

helicopter training away days

We’ve been developing pilots for more than 10 years, and many have gone on to have successful careers as pilots.

Part of that success has been about taking a long-term approach to training pilots, not just giving you the basics so as to pass the next written or oral test, or knowing how to move the controls and perform manoeuvrers in flight. Training should help pilots to perform and thrive in a whole range of real-life flying situations and scenarios.

Giving pilots the chance to fly in different environments is a unique learning opportunity, and one of the reasons we developed our helicopter training away days programme. Our most recent helicopter training away days lesson took pilots to London to fly in one of the busiest airspaces in Europe.

What are the London heli-lanes?

There are strict regulations about helicopters flying in London, particularly single engined helicopters. So, specially designed routes, known as heli-lanes, provide extra safety by avoiding flying over built up areas as much as possible, and for this reason, the routes mainly follow the River Thames. The routes do still allow pilots to fly right through the heart of the city however, providing some spectacular views of the sights.

The day begins with breakfast at Central Helicopters’ HQ, Nottingham Heliport, with extensive pre-flight planning and safety briefing, before heading to the capital.

helicopter training away days

helicopter training away days

Heathrow crossing

The day includes navigating one of the world’s busiest airports. Heathrow sees around 1,400 planes take off and land daily, that’s one every 45 seconds.

helicopter training away days

helicopter training away days

Land aways

And two land aways at North Weald Airfield, situated north of London, as well as lunch at Denham Airfield, north west of the city.

helicopter training away days

helicopter training away days

City slickers

Perhaps the most memorable part of the day is navigating the heli-lanes which take our students along the Thames passing landmarks such as the London Eye, the Shard, Olympic Stadium, and Canary Wharf.

helicopter training away days

helicopter training away days

helicopter training away days

helicopter training away days

helicopter training away days

If you are interested in increasing your flying experience and knowledge, and are a current PPL(H) holder or training towards your licence, contact the Central Helicopters team on 01664 823846 for further information about our helicopter training away days. Our standard day package includes breakfast, full pre-flight planning and briefing, land-aways at two airfields, and lunch. Learn more about Central Helicopters’ helicopter training.

How to choose the right helicopter training school

Becoming a helicopter pilot, and perhaps even qualifying as a commercial pilot, is an exciting yet difficult challenge. We tell you this not to discourage you from starting out flying, but rather to stress that accessing the best training possible is essential to success and getting an advantage, particularly if you wish to earn a living as a pilot. The quality of your training will be, quite simply, determined by your helicopter training school. 

Here is the first of a series of helicopter training articles aimed at helping you make a better informed decision. Whether you are just starting out, or already have plenty of flying hours under your belt, the tips below on how to choose the right helicopter training school could prove invaluable.

DON’T choose a training school that promises you will walk into a job as soon as you have attained the minimum number of flying hours. There are plenty of opportunities to earn a living by flying a helicopter, but equally the industry is competitive, so finding a job isn’t guaranteed.

DO choose a training school which has quality facilities. You’ll potentially be investing a lot of time in your chosen school, where at times you’ll also want to relax in comfortable surroundings, as well as have access to top-notch learning equipment for those all-important theory exams.

DON’T choose a training school that promises you a flight instructor job with them after completion of your training. Flight training schools can’t offer jobs to all of their graduates, if they did, they would have more instructors than pilots. Central Helicopters only gives jobs to the very best pilots, after all, who else would you want training you?

DO choose a training school which has the experience of developing students who have consistently gone on to begin successful careers in the aviation industry.

DON’T choose a training school which has poorly maintained aircraft. Does the school have capable mechanics and seasoned, professional ground crew?

DON’T choose a training school which is too big to give you the time and attention you will need to achieve your pilot licences, and one too small to have adequate resources and the staff to support you.

How to choose the right helicopter training school

During more than ten years, our family-run helicopter business has successfully trained hundreds of student pilots – and during this time, we’ve also been busy developing our Widmerpool heliport, which is now a state-of-the-art training facility.

We take an open, honest approach to training students. We don’t make wild promises, instead preferring realistic, open advice. Our friendly, knowledgeable team is here to guide you in the right direction, starting the very first moment you come and see us. Why not visit our heliport for a look around, an informal chat, and the chance to learn more about how you can begin taking your first steps to becoming a commercial helicopter pilot?

Learn more about our flight training, or call us on 01664 823846. To read more about our state-of-the-art heliport, go to www.nottinghamheliport.co.uk.

We hope you benefit from our guide on how to choose the right helicopter training school, and look out for our next helicopter training article.

best winter helicopter pleasure flights

Winter has never looked so good! Gazing out for miles around from a vantage point of a 1,000 ft isn’t a bad way to spend a crisp, sunny winter’s day. That was the experience for hundreds of our visitors this year, who made sure Central Helicopters delivered the best winter helicopter pleasure flights in the UK. 

best winter helicopter pleasure flights

It all started in January with our first ever winter flight, where eager passengers climbed aboard our luxurious Bell 206 Long Ranger helicopter to settle in for an unforgettable flight experience. With just one cancelled flight during the winter season, we managed to treat hundreds of newbie pleasure flyers to their first taste of what it is like to fly by helicopter.

best winter helicopter pleasure flights

We wrapped things up from our Nottingham HQ on Mother’s Day in March. What better way to celebrate than by sending ‘Mum’ up in a helicopter to whizz around at speeds of up to a 100mph?

Keeping Mum

best winter helicopter pleasure flights

Visitors from all over the country joined us at our state-of-the-art HQ. Before their flight customers had the chance to relax, have a bite, even enjoy a glass of bubbly, and, of course,  have plenty of FUN. Cheers!

the best winter helicopter pleasure flights

Then our winter flyers got a very special taste of what it’s like to take to the skies!

best winter helicopter pleasure flights

And then it’s back to HQ for our high-flyers… still, there’s always time for more photos!

best winter helicopter pleasure flights

So, what did our customers think?

As well as giving you a fantastic, unique experience, we pride ourselves on our professionalism, friendliness, and all-round customer service – but don’t take our word for it. Here’s what some of our visitors thought about their day.

Judie Moss, pictured above in one of our photo packages, said: “We had a great time – the staff are very polite. Fantastic!

Wendy Smith, who travelled from Anglesey for our helicopter experience, said: “Had a great day, your staff are all very friendly – great fun!”

Why not try it for yourself?

We’ve got a busy April, with our pleasure flights taking off from numerous stunning locations. We are next in the beautiful Peak District on April 1st. A limited number of places remain, so please book in advance to avoid disappointment. Visit our website for more information and to book your place, or call us  on 01664 823846.

In 2007, the country still had a Labour leader, England football boss Steve McClaren was dubbed the ‘Wally with the Brolly’, and the iPhone was first released. It was also the year the Briggs family took over Central Helicopters, and, ever since, we have been leading the way in providing UK helicopter pilot training.

Just before the new year we celebrated our 10th birthday, having up to this point successfully trained in excess of a 100 student pilots, who have gained various licences and ratings.

Many have benefitted from our state-of-the-art facilities, which we built at our base in Widmerpool, near Nottingham in 2014. They provide everything students could ever need, including modern, comfortable accommodation, so those travelling from further afield don’t even need to step foot outside of our site.

UK helicopter pilot training

This isn’t the only way we have been improving our offering to students. During the last decade we have continually assessed and improved our training methods and courses to make them as relevant and effective as possible. In 2018, we are putting in more time and energy than ever to ensure we deliver the best helicopter UK helicopter pilot training.

Here are just a few reasons why you should join us during the year ahead:

The best pilots

UK helicopter pilot training

Our most recent pilot to qualify as a flight examiner is Capt. Sean Humphrey, who in 2018, will be conducting Proficiency Checks and Skills Tests on our R22, R44 and 206 Series helicopters. Sean is one of our most liked, well-respected pilots, who has been leading pleasure flying tours for a number of years.

Innovative training in the air

Our latest training innovation for 2018 is the Advanced PPL(H) Course, which is focussed on those pilots who already have their PPL(H) licence but feel they are not getting the most from it. The 10-hour training course will improve accuracy, knowledge and build confidence in areas not fully covered in the standard PPL syllabus.

… and on the ground

Theory classes are an essential part of progression for pilots. We’ve some of the best instructors in the business, who pride themselves of delivering quality tuition.

Our latest Groundschool & Exam day is on Monday, February 12th, with the topic of Meteorology. This is a one day course priced at £125 + VAT, which includes all pre-study work books, a full day presentation by one of our ground examiners, access to practice papers and also the final written exam. It is open to both rotary and fixed wing PPL students.

We are continually introducing new courses, so make sure you check back here regularly in 2018 for updates, or read more about learning to fly.

PPL(H) Advanced Training Course

PPL(H) holders' helicopter training course

You’ve dedicated hours and hours to attaining your PPL(H) licence, and now you are all set to get out there flying further and further, taking in the world around you from the most amazing viewpoint! Except, you are aren’t – well, at least not the way you could be. And that’s why we have introduced our PPL(H) Advanced Training Course.

We see many licence holders choosing to remain in the local area using routes that they are familiar with and perhaps not utilising their skills to the fullest to go further afield. So, our new course is designed just for you.

The 10-hour training course has been put together to encourage current private pilots to try and get the most out of their licence by improving accuracy, knowledge and building confidence in areas not fully covered in the standard PPL syllabus.

These include:

The PPL(H) Advanced Course tuition is divided into seven sessions, including two land-away lunch trips, to give you a more practical feel for the helicopter in an off-airfield environment.

The aim is also to improve the accuracy of your flying using tighter tolerances more in line with a commercial standard, which makes it ideal not only for recreational pilots but for those who may be hour building prior to starting a CPL(H) course.

We are offering the course in either the R22 at £280 + VAT per hour or £2,650 + VAT for a 10-hour payment, or the R44 at £440 + VAT per hour or £4,250 + VAT for a 10-hour payment.

As with standard PPL training the booking system is flexible and the course can be completed at your own pace, however we advise attending at least one session per week if possible to maintain continuity and get the most out of it.

To register your interest for the PPL(H) Advanced Training Course, or for any further information, please reply via email to dan@centralhelicopters.com.

Hope Valley Bamford

Ditch the slippers, forget that book that never gets read, and absolutely steer clear of smellies. How about giving a gift with some genuine excitement, an experience that the recipient will always remember?

Well, we’ve got just the thing – our helicopter flight gift vouchers are the perfect way to add some Christmas wow factor. Plus, there’s never been a better time to choose one of our flight experiences.

For the first time in 2018 we will be running our pleasure flights during the winter, beginning on January 28 from our Nottingham HQ – so, anyone receiving a voucher won’t have long until they can climb aboard our Bell 206 LongRanger helicopter.

This year we have more flight days available than ever before, almost 40 in total, leaving from locations across the country, including Nottingham, Skegness, Yorkshire, Peak District, Lancashire, and North Lancashire. You’ll be able to witness some breathtaking sights and scenery, including many of the UK’s best-loved national parks, all from a spectacular bird’s eye view.

We have numerous flight options to suit every budget, including our popular 6-Mile and 15-Minute experiences, which range from £29 to £69. If you’d like to bring family and friends along and book the whole helicopter, we have extra discounts available.

So, this year there are no excuses for dull, drab presents. Why not take a look at more of our helicopter tours and next year’s upcoming dates.

Choose your helicopter flight voucher

How would you like to experience an amazing helicopter pleasure flight, absolutely FREE? 

To coincide with the release of our 2018 pleasure flying events, we are giving away a free 15-minute helicopter pleasure flight that can be taken at any of our six locations across the UK – Nottingham, The Peak District, North Yorkshire, Skegness, Lancashire or The Lake District.

All you have to do is like the Central Helicopters Facebook page before the draw is made on Friday, 24th November, 2017, and the winner will be chosen at random from the list of our Facebook followers. The winning voucher will be valid for 12 months, and can be transferred into any name, which could make the ideal Christmas gift. Good luck!

Peter Hickman

Here at Central Helicopters, it’s not unusual for us to welcome some rich and famous visitors. From politicians to rockstars, we’ve had some very notable passengers touch down at our Nottingham HQ. But, our most recent celebrity arrival leaves them all in his wake, at least in terms of sheer speed!

British Superbike racer Peter Hickman, or ‘Hicky, as he’s known to his race fans, swapped his 188 mile-per-hour BMW S1000RR bike for our Robinson R22 helicopter. It was maybe a little slower than the race ace was used to, but mastering the controls of a helicopter for the first time is no mean feat.

After a safety briefing, ‘Hicky’ joined one of our most experienced pilots, Captain James Walley, for one of our most popular flight experiences, the 90-minute trial lesson. Once suitably briefed on the helicopter and procedures, it was time to put theory into practise, and try out some very different controls.

Peter, who is from near-by Burton-on-Trent, is currently competing in the British Superbike championship, but he shot to fame on the racing circuit by becoming the fastest ever newcomer at the Isle of Man TT with a fastest average lap speed of 129.1 mph.

Peter Hickman

Peter in action on the track

Once touched down, he said: “I had an awesome time flying the R22. I’ve never been in a helicopter before, let alone flown one, but loved it. Central Helicopters were fantastic, and I’d recommend it to anyone.”

Captain James Walley said: “Peter was a natural. He wasn’t nervous or apprehensive about getting in and flying for the first time, but then again he is used to riding a race bike around a street circuit at 180mph, so perhaps you wouldn’t expect him to be!”

Remember, you don’t have to be a motorbike race hero to fly a helicopter. Our trial lessons are the perfect way to start flying, and they are suitable for just about anyone. Call the team on 01664 823846 to find out how you can follow in Peter’s footsteps, or find more information here.

Pilot medical certificates

Nobody likes going to see the doctor, do they? It all brings back memories of depressing waiting rooms, stressed receptionists with a short fuse, and medical examinations.

If you are a pilot, or training to become one, you’ll only be too aware that a regular trip to see a doctor is essential so you can qualify for the relevant pilot medical certificates. While you can’t avoid the medical examination, here at Nottingham Heliport, in Widmerpool, we can at least offer you a friendly, relaxed environment to come to for that all-important Class 2 or LAPL Certificate.

We’ll also give you the peace-of-mind that comes with knowing your examination will be conducted by a highly-qualified aviation medical examiner (AME).


Our aviation medical specialist is Dr Paddy Yeoman. Not only is Paddy an AME, qualified to carry out EASA Class 2 and LAPL pilot medicals, but he can also carry out specialist medicals for commercial cabin crew.

While Paddy is not advising pilots from all over the Midlands and the UK, he’s busy being a hospital consultant and specialising in anesthesia and intensive care. He is a passionate aviator himself. In fact, his love of flying began when he was just a child. Today he holds instructor ratings for gliders, motor gliders and microlights – in short, he knows a thing or two about flying and medicine.


If you are based in the East Midlands, then why not consider us for that next examination at our state-of-the-art facilities? Unlike our flight training, we can’t promise you the time of your live, but we promise we’ll make the whole experience as quick and painless as possible.


Need more info about pilot medical certificates? Find out exactly what’s required for your next medical examination. Or, pick the brains of our team at Nottingham Heliport on 01664 823846.