Ever wondered what it would be like to have an eagle-eye view of Owensboro? Or anywhere for that matter. Thanks to KC Helicopters, Owensboro residents now have the opportunity to earn a private or commercial helicopter license while training at Owensboro Regional Airport.
KC Helicopters has been offering helicopter services for the past eight years, but recently decided to offer flight training when the owner met Certified Flight Instructor, Warren Larson. Larson is a California native who came to Owensboro to attend Kentucky Wesleyan College, where he met his future wife. After college, the couple moved back to the west coast, but decided to return to Owensboro in 2015.
Warren, who has been flying helicopters for 11 years and instructing for 10, says the thrill of flying a helicopter is versatility. “You’re able to fly almost anywhere, and land almost anywhere. Plus you’re able to hover and see things you can only enjoy from a helicopter. It’s a very personal aircraft.”
Most helicopter flights stay under 2,000 feet in altitude, and can reach 102 knots at full speed, which is around 115-130 mph. Average flights can last up to 2 ½ hours of airtime before relanding, which could cover up to 100 miles and back in any direction.
Earning your wings as a helicopter pilot requires at least 40 hours of flight training for private, and 150 hours for commercial. All applicants must pass a physical. There is also bookwork on the ground, concluding with a written test and oral test that must be passed before the actual flight test can be administered.
“If a person flies two or three times a week, they can usually do it in a couple months,” Larson says. “Which is what I recommend for retention because we cover a lot of information in the coursework.”
After receiving a private or commercial license, helicopter pilots can purchase their own helicopter, or rent one from KC Helicopters.
Most who earn a private license will fly for their own enjoyment or convenience, which costs about $12,000 for the training, materials, and test. Those who get a commercial license pay substantially more because of the extra flight hours involved, but Larson says that investment could lead to endless opportunities such as crop spraying or field drying, medical transport, construction, surveying, sightseeing tours, aerial photography services, and other industries.
To get a visual of what it’s like to see Owensboro and the surrounding region with your feet above the treetops and your head in the clouds, you can find photos and videos on KC Helicopters’ Facebook page.
For those wanting a one-time experience, KC Helicopters also offers sightseeing flights. You can find more information at KCHelicopters.net.
Now that the flight training program is off the ground, Larson expects it to take off. The first few trainees are already in instruction with KC Helicopters, and the future—like the sky—is wide open.