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Aspiring helicopter pilots prepare for take off on Bristow’s cadet programme

Bristow cadets, left-right, Felix Lilleyman, Kelly Wood, Ashley Simpson and Matthew McClune.

Four aspiring helicopter pilots, including two from Aberdeen, have become the latest to join the ranks of Bristow’s fully-sponsored UK cadet programme.

The quartet was chosen from more than 1,200 applicants for the scheme, which enables cadets to move from training straight into employment with the company, and is the only one of its kind in the UK.

Aberdeen-based Ashley Simpson and Kelly Wood have started their 15-month initial training at Helicentre Aviation’s training centre in Leicester, along with Felix Lilleyman and Matthew McClune.

Ms Simpson is currently aircrew and flight scheduler at Bristow Group, while Ms Wood joined the company as an apprentice 10 years ago, most recently holding the role of B1 licence engineer.

The cadets will undertake 135 hours flying and 13 exams required to pass the commercial pilots licence skills test, before returning to Bristow’s dedicated training base in Aberdeen for a further three months.

After their final tests, they will join the company’s experienced crew, flying regular passenger flights to a variety of offshore assets under the guidance of line training captains.

A Bristow helicopter lands on a platform.

Matt Rhodes, Bristow’s director UK Oil and Gas, said: “Bristow has a long legacy of supporting the next generation of pilots and we continue to see the value in this programme.

“Despite the challenges the last 18 months have presented, we understand the need to support new talent in the industry to ensure they are trained to the highest standards.

“Many of our current pilots and senior management team came through our sponsored cadet programme, so we really understand the benefits of investing in young pilots.

“I look forward to seeing the latest recruits progress through their training in the coming months before welcoming them to the team in Aberdeen.”

Mr Lilleyman said: “To have the support from Bristow means everything to me, it’s a golden ticket.

“It would have been significantly more challenging and taken a very long time for me to pursue a civil aviation career without it.

“I can’t remember a day I didn’t want to be a helicopter pilot, so I’m really excited about starting my training.”

Bristow, which is the world’s largest helicopter operator, has also welcomed sponsored cadet Claire Stoll to its Aberdeen crew as a co-pilot, following her success in gaining multi-engine instrument rating.

Ms Stoll was previously an instructor at Helicentre, supporting the training of new cadets.

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