Inspiring Women to Fly Helicopters



Inspiring Women to Fly Helicopters

Helicentre Aviation works closely with the BWPA (British Women Pilots’ Association) to inspire and encourage the participation of women who are passionate about aviation and want to become established as professional helicopter pilots.

Earlier in the year, we announced that in addition to our regular sponsorships we would be awarding significant funding to support the established BWPA scholarship programme.

BWPA Scholarship winner Holly has started training as a full-time student on HC4, our latest integrated CPL(H) intake

The aim is to promote the training and employment of women, who are underrepresented within the aviation industry. According to statistics, currently, only 5-6% of those flying professionally in the UK and worldwide are female.

This year the BWPA awarded scholarships to 19 women, and included in this, five women received flying scholarships from Helicentre.

Holly Harris is one of our BWPA scholarship winners, receiving part-funding from Helicentre Aviation of £10,000 towards her training costs. She has already started her journey towards being a professional pilot, joining our latest integrated CPL(H) intake, HC4 which is now three weeks into the intense full-time theoretical knowledge training required to become a Commercial Helicopter Pilot. She will graduate with a CPL(H) after 12 months.

From a very young age, Holly had an interest in flying so it’s no surprise that as an adult she intends to make piloting her career. Holly first realised her love of flying when she finished college in Shropshire and took a gap year where she learnt to be a glider instructor at the Midlands gliding club.

Holly plans to document her journey along the way and inspire other women to consider aviation careers, especially within the helicopter industry where the career pathways and opportunities are even less well-known than other aviation sectors.

Considering flying helicopters can be likened to the world’s best-kept secret, Helicentre Aviation has always done well to get the message out to prospective female aviators in what is such a male-dominated industry. Three out of the five company directors are female, including Head of Training and Flight Instructor Examiner, Sarah, who has been a great role model to future instructors coming through the career pipeline.

Janine, former Helicentre Aviation Flight Instructor who was awarded an IR sponsorship by Bristow

The ratio of female flight instructors within the company currently sits at 17%, and has in the past been as high as 28%, before two moved on to take up fantastic IR sponsorship opportunities and employment as offshore pilots with Bristow.

Whilst these percentages are much higher than the global average there is still a way to go and Helicentre Aviation will continue to promote and invest in scholarships and sponsorships for stand-out individuals to achieve their flying dreams. HC4 is the very first integrated class to have female pilots training ab-inito to CPL(H) full-time. Holly is joined by two Bristow-sponsored cadets, Kelly and Ashley who are extremely excited to be training towards their new careers.

When Holly was asked about her goals were and what her ultimate job would be, she immediately responded with ‘Search & Rescue’. “I want to go into Search and Rescue (SAR) for a number of reasons,” she explained. “Firstly, because I imagine it’s very rewarding. I want to feel like I’m making a difference whist doing something I love. This type of flying would be the perfect combination of the two. Secondly, there is the challenge and adventure aspect, as well as being spontaneous and having to adapt in time-critical situations – I believe you couldn’t get more spontaneous than SAR,” she added.

Typically pilots graduating from the Academy with a CPL(H) continue training to become flight instructors which makes them immediately employable, gaining hours quickly and then moving into other sectors, or they undertake the multi-engine instrument rating course, allowing them to move into multi-crew roles, typically offshore, as co-pilots straight out of training.

Are you inspired? If so we’d love to hear from you. You do not need to have any previous experience to start training towards your career as a helicopter pilot. If you wish to find out more, join our helicopter pilot career seminar virtually over Zoom. We also regularly award bursaries and scholarships which our admissions team will be happy to discuss with you by calling 0116 259 0186.

Holly Harris, after receiving the news of her successful scholarship application

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