This week, a group of helicopter students at Old Sarum Airfield will start training for their night flying qualification.
The students are all working towards qualification as Search and Rescue Pilots. Night flying is a crucial part of their training, so night landing aids and obstacle lighting will be used to allow this to take place.
The Airfield Manager, Angus Beal, said: “We are delighted to be able to facilitate night flying at Old Sarum. We are keen to ensure the future of the Airfield and this is a major step forward. We are working tirelessly to achieve the volume of flying that will ensure the viability of the Airfield into our next 100 years.”
The helicopter students are on an internship programme with Vantage Aviation; one of several flying training organisations based at the Airfield. Vantage Aviation provide training for EASA and FAA private and commercial licences, but also offer specialist helicopter training. Crucially, the company instructors are all experienced ex-military.
Having arrived in February with very little flying experience, the group of eight students has already achieved their PPLs and finished the gruelling CPL theory course. When they return home in 2017, they will have CPLs with Instrument Ratings and be qualified to fly Search and Rescue at night and in poor weather. The next group of students start their initial helicopter training this December and are looking forward to flying at Old Sarum.
The Director of Vantage Aviation, James Newton DFC, says, “Our overseas partners recognise the unique skill sets that Vantage Aviation has in the delivery of a complex and demanding contract like this - and that the EASA qualifications are the best in the world. This brings jobs, investment and opportunity for the wider community and we are pleased to be working with the managers and staff at Old Sarum to help provide this training.”
The Airfield will be open for night flying initially for helicopters only. Work is underway to install the lighting for the Airfield to be available to other fixed wing light aircraft as required in 2017.