Starting your PPL(H) - Part 2


Part 2 of 2; a PPL(H) journey from one of our former students.

by Bianca Hansen


119 Helicopter and pilot in the snow

The PPL(H) journey

 Alex was patient and his humor was relaxing and supportive, especially when it came to learning how to hover.  The next few months entailed learning how to taxi around the airfield, lift off, landing, transitioning away as well as the dreaded (yet exciting) autorotation. Autorotation is when you essentially disconnect the engine from the rotors, then skillfully manage the helicopter by allowing the blades to ‘rotate automatically’ as the engine is no longer driving them, and of course, hope for the best as you glide back down. The first time was absolutely frightening, but after much practice, I started to enjoy them and progressed on to ‘advanced autorotations’.

In addition to learning ‘general handling’ skills of the Cabri G2, I eventually went on to do my first solo flight in the circuit. From there on, things started to move fast and I was soon doing my qualifying cross-country where I flew to two different airfields on my own. It was scary and exciting all at once, but I felt ready to apply everything I had been taught.


It was tough juggling working full time as well as doing my PPL. It required spending a lot less time with friends and family. Luckily, they were all very understanding and their support meant any spare days I had, as well as all of my annual leave, was occupied with flying lessons, studying for the 9 multiple choice exams or picking up extra shifts to pay for flying. VVB felt like a ‘flying family’ and spending time there studying and learning from other pilots doing their PPL, commercial pilots license (CPL) or instrument rating (IR) was really helpful. Additionally, being around other pilots presented opportunities to improve my flying and general aviation knowledge.

The Final Stage of my PPL(H)

A series of bad weather, including the Beast from the East, meant my ‘skill test’ (the final flying test you do before obtaining your PPL) was delayed a few times. However, after 7 months I passed my PPL(H) and the feeling was overwhelming but getting to that stage was by no means easy. Learning how to maneuver a helicopter, navigate and understand the range of general aviation knowledge, including meteorology, air law and principles of flight, as well as financially supporting my new expensive hobby, was challenging.  At points I doubted myself and considered whether I would ever be able to achieve it. But in hindsight, I think learning to overcome that doubt is all a part of the journey. Despite my fears, it was not impossible and deciding to get my PPL(H) was one of the best decisions I ever made.

Could I have put the money spent on flying towards a house? Yes. But houses can’t fly, I now can.

Helicopter Pilot taking Lessons at Elstree

Follow Bianca on Instagram: @biancavsgravity