Three helicopter pilots graduated yesterday with the UK’s only operator-supported BSc (Hons) Professional Aviation Pilot Practice (Helicopter) degree – delivered in partnership between Helicentre Aviation Ltd and Middlesex University London. The graduates, Barry Wilmott, Russell Sheriff and Andrew Thompson, are the first students in the UK to graduate with this degree that is unique to Middlesex University and Helicentre Aviation, and designed specifically for helicopter pilots.
Professor Tim Blackman, Vice-Chancellor at Middlesex University London said: “I’m very proud of our helicopter pilots whose graduation marks a first for Middlesex University, and is the result of a lot of personal effort and commitment to an industry which needs graduates of this calibre to meet ever-increasing skills needs.
“This was possible thanks to our excellent working relationship with Helicentre Aviation, an organisation that, like Middlesex, is responding to the increasing need to combine work with practice-based learning to meet skills needs now and in the future. I have no doubt these graduates will have fulfilling futures whoever they choose to fly with.”
Captain Sarah Bowen, Managing Director at Helicentre Aviation Ltd said: “At Helicentre we are committed to developing qualified pilots who know that when they join us they have access to the best knowledge and practice, and clear career options.
“This is the only professional practice helicopter pilot degree in the world, using a collaborative partnership in which Helicentre provides the quality practical training combined with academic expertise from Middlesex University.
“We are incredibly proud of Barry, Russell and Andrew and look forward to seeing them flourish, develop and grow, whether they decide to pilot an air ambulance, transport VIPs, or fly tourists over some of the world’s most beautiful landmarks.”
Commercial Helicopter pilot Russell Sheriff, 25, from Duston, Northants, who graduated on the day his baby daughter was due to be born said: “It’s amazing. Without the degree I wouldn’t have been able to do the flying itself so definitely worth it! All the hard work pays off with today’s graduation.” Flight Instructor Andy Thompson, 27, from Doncaster remarked: “It’s so good to graduate with a degree today after three years of very hard work.”
Commercial Pilot and soon-to-be Flight Instructor Barry Wilmott, 42, from Newcastle upon Tyne was at the ceremony with partner Lacy and daughter Lily. He added: “A degree is something I never thought I’d achieve given the age I am, but it is the degree that has allowed me to get the helicopter licence. Today has been amazing. I am looking forward to adding the Flight Instructor Certificate to my licence so I can begin training new pilots.”
Middlesex University London has a growing reputation in its partnership work with the aviation industry, with 15 easyJet pilots, and one Virgin Atlantic pilot graduating yesterday alongside the three Helicentre Aviation graduates. Helicentre Aviation are currently recruiting Commercial Pilots and Flight Instructors, and applications for the degree programme’s September, January and May intakes can be made directly to Helicentre Aviation.
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