For five years of my independent radio broadcasting career in the UK, I flew over Oxfordshire on weekday mornings for an hour in a helicopter, reporting on the rush-hour traffic situation around the county. When I say flew, I wasn’t at the controls; that was a charming man we dubbed ‘Michael the Pilot’. Like many pilots, it seems, he had a well-modulated and rather appealing velvety voice (Michael’s certainly appealed to a large number of our listeners when he made the occasional contribution to the broadcasts). Perhaps a voice audition is part of the pilot selection process?
I loved these daily flights and the excitement of being up, up in the air, with the landscape spread out below us. They were the highlight of my working day and, when I moved to the BBC for a better opportunity, were something I missed more than I had expected.
Mallorca from the air
Having moved to Mallorca I began to imagine flying over the island and seeing its natural beauty from the air. I still often rush out of the house if I hear the familiar thrub-thrub of rotor blades, just to see a helicopter passing by.
So I wasted no time in accepting an invitation from Balearic Helicopters to view the new R66 Turbine Helicopter from the Robinson Helicopter Company, which was on loan from Sloane Helicopters in the UK for a week, to give potential buyers the chance to see it. The Boss and I combined a visit to the Sunday morning market and an artisan microbrewery at Santa Maria, before heading to Binissalem aerodrome (which we hadn’t even known existed), where the helicopter would be gleaming in the sunlight for all to admire. And she was a beauty.
Jonny Greenall, Balearic Helicopters’ affable chief pilot, used to run Sloane Helicopters on Mallorca, but Sloane is no longer on the island and Jonny has started his own business. He and his team made an assortment of visitors that afternoon very welcome, providing a hog roast lunch and a rather scrummy banoffee pie. There were a few people in the group who already owned a helicopter and possibly were looking to upgrade; they were the ones asking the questions and cooing over some of the more exciting technical innovations.
And we’re off . . .
Once we’d all had a good look around and inside the 5-seater craft, Jonny announced that he’d be doing some short flights for those who were interested in going up. I promise that I didn’t trample anyone in my rush to reach a seat, but I was thrilled beyond most normal people’s comprehension to have the opportunity to go up.
When my turn finally came, we took off and flew for a few minutes over the Binissalem area – probably best known for its vineyards, which look impressive from above. We also had a good view of quite a few fincas we passed over, which is why some prospective rural property purchasers take a helicopter trip to check out the surrounding area from above.
Even if you’re not planning to buy a place in rural Mallorca, if you can afford it, a helicopter flight over the island will give you a unique perspective of this beautiful Mediterranean island. If you look down and see someone waving enthusiastically from a rural finca in northeast Mallorca, it’ll be me . . .
To find out more about the R66 Turbine, check Robinson’s website.