We sat down with Wingly helicopter pilot, Tony, to discuss his experience so far and chat all things aviation, from how flight sharing allows him to follow his passion, to his dreams for the future. Tony flies from Denham Aerodrome and his flights include day trips to the Isle of Wight, sightseeing flights over London and even an excursion to a luxury hotel for afternoon tea. So sit back and relax as we get to know more about Tony!
What initially inspired you to start flying?
It all started when a good friend phoned me one sunny Sunday morning asking if I was up for a helicopter trial lesson as the local airfield was offering a reduced price deal that day. We had a great time and it was a lot of fun, then nothing more happened for about 25 years but the experience really stuck with me. Then one day the opportunity arose to try a flight again and I just thought it’s now or never so I went for it and the rest is history!
What aircraft do you usually fly?
A Robinson R44 helicopter.
How do you spend your time when you’re not flying?
I’m an accountant by profession and run a small general practice. In terms of hobbies, I enjoy photography, mainly at family events and on holiday, and I also love to read.
Where is your favourite place to fly? And what is your ultimate pilot dream?
Each of my favourite flights is so different to the next, it’s impossible to choose just one! Flying through London down the River Thames and transiting Heathrow Airport has to be up there, as well as flights along the coast because of the incredible scenery. Being able to fly directly into hotels is also great fun! In the future, I aspire to complete my rating for the Robinson R66 5-seat turbine helicopter, and my ultimate dream is the AS350 B3 Single Squirrel.
How has flight sharing with Wingly impacted your flying?
I’m still a new ‘Wingly’er’ but I can’t wait to meet new people and fly to new destinations. Wingly allows me to increase my flying hours and with every flight I’m building on my skills and experience.
What is your favourite memory since becoming a Wingly pilot?
It has to be the reaction of passengers as we cross Heathrow Airport. It’s the most surreal feeling crossing through a stream of landing jets at a major international airport, especially in this day and age. To see a different side of Heathrow, rather than just taking off and landing there, is spectacular and definitely not something you would otherwise see every day! I feel very privileged to be able to do these flights through London as everywhere you look there is another major landmark and being able to discover the capital from a whole new perspective is truly incredible. During a recent Wingly flight, we were running parallel on the ring road by Heathrow and shadowed a jet for half of its take-off which was a really special moment!
What does flying mean to you?
Flying is something that is completely different to my day job, so it is the perfect escape and helps with my work-life balance. It gives me something to look forward to and work towards as I’m always planning my next flight! The whole process from organising the flight, to the actual experience and seeing the happy faces of passengers is the most rewarding feeling, and I get to do it whilst sharing my passion.
Any advice to anyone thinking about booking a Wingly flight?
Just go for it! Give it a go because, like me, you never know where it might lead. It might even inspire you to become a pilot yourself one day!
Here are some of Tony’s (all 5-star!) reviews:
“Had a flight today with Tony over London. We went up the Thames and saw all the sights. He was very informative and a complete gentleman and ended flying over Heathrow which was amazing from above. Myself and Maxine had a trip where the memories will last forever. Will be booking again real soon Tony can’t thank you enough, the highlight of our weekend!”
“Tony was awesome , he showed us around the helicopter, explained the mechanics of the aircraft and of helicopter flying. He briefed us on the flight route and what we expected to see along the route. We had an almost perfect afternoon for visibility, great take off from Denham, across North West London to Stratford over the Olympic Village and then back along the Thames, past the City and Westminster, across Richmond Park, Bushy Park, Sunbury Lock and then amazingly across the eastern end of Heathrow airport, seeing aircraft below on 27R lining up for take-off. Fantastic, definitely recommend Tony. Thank you.”
“We had an amazing time with Tony. Communication was easy and he was very helpful. Made the trip very interesting and we felt very comfortable. I highly recommend Tony.”