Helicopter gift experience was unforgettable
To give you a better idea of what it is like to fly on one of our pleasure flights, we talked to a recent first-time flyer about his helicopter gift experience with Central Helicopters. Here he describes one of our best-loved pleasure flights from start to finish.
Like many of those coming to enjoy a helicopter gift experience, Norman Parker was a first-time helicopter passenger.
Living in Cheshire, he often visits the Peak District, and is an avid walker, but, he’d never seen it from the air. With four different flights taking in the national park, there’s plenty of opportunity to see famous landmarks, such as Chatsworth House, as well as the rugged terrain, forests, hills, rivers and more.
But, for Norman, the Dambuster and Chatsworth Tour stood out in particular, as he explains:
“I’ve always been interested in the Dam Busters. Ever since I was a child I’ve been fascinated with the story, the heroics, the danger. So the idea of combining my first flight by helicopter with a tour of the Peak District, that I know so well, and a tour of the famous Derwent dams, where the Dam Buster pilots trained, was the obvious choice.”
After a one-hour drive from Stoke-on-Trent, Norman and his family arrived at our Peak District flight location, Owler Bar. Set on the edge of the park, it is the ideal spot from which to lift off and explore the diverse landscape.
With Norman were his son, Justin, wife Pat, and daughter-in-Law Anna, whom like Dad, had never taken to the skies by helicopter before. Awaiting to fly them was one of Central Helicopters’ most experienced pilots, Dave Marsland, with the Bell 206 LongRanger. With a capacity for six passengers, the helicopter is perfect for gift experiences, allowing for a great view, and easy access for taking those all important photos.
Norman explains the take-off: “As the helicopter took off, the nose dipped, as if you are going to dive down, and then you are up and away, climbing steeply and turning all in one movement. As you leave the ground, fields, forests, houses and roads all rushed into view. The helicopter climbed to around 1000ft before levelling off.”
‘It brought the adventure to life’
From Owler Bar, Norman and his family headed north-west to follow the same route taken by the 617 squadron, retracing one their training routes as they practised low-level flying in their Avro Lancasters. Their heroic feats were captured on film in the 1955 movie The Dam Busters, which was also filmed right here.
Norman picks up the story: “We headed first over the Ladybower Dam, the Howden Dam, and then to the iconic twin towers of Derwent Dam. It was great to be able to see in person where the Dam Busters trained. To be able to visualise the dams and the countryside from the air, it really helped bring their whole adventure to life, and makes this such an interesting place for a helicopter flight.”
Another famous location that has been the backdrop of numerous movies, including Pride and Prejudice, is Chatsworth House, one of the grandest and magnificent estates in the UK. Built in 1552 by Sir William Cavendish, one of its most notable moments was when it became the residence of Mary, Queen of Scots, while she was kept under house arrest.
Norman says: “It was a fun way to round off the flight. It’s another landmark I have been to many times, having visited the house, and walked the grounds, but it is really interesting to see it from high above, you really get a better impression of its size and magnificence, and, the pictures I took are that much more unique and special – I’ll treasure them.”
Norman added: “The flight was around 30 minutes, which was brilliant, giving us plenty of time to see the dams, countryside and Chatsworth. But, the whole helicopter gift experience was so memorable. The staff and pilot were great, and we even had lunch included at the Moorlands pub. It was a great gift, and so special to have the family along, too.”