5 minutes to read
Pilot Story #6
Flying helicopters in paradise? Is this possible? Yes it is!
Tim Loens, a helicopter pilot from Belgium opens his heart from the beautiful Seychelles and tell us his story! Tim flies in Seychelles for Zil Air in a ground paradise mainly performing vip transfers and scenic tours. Loving the idea of aviation since he was a child, Tim shows us the way to success!
So Tim tell us about how it all started, your dream as a child and how you made it up to here?
Hi! I’m Tim, I’m 24 years old, and I was born & raised in Belgium. I was very grateful when offered the opportunity to share my story with everyone else sharing the same obsession for aviation, so here it is!
My dream to become a pilot started when I was only 5 or 6 years old, the first time I got aboard on airplane for a holiday. I asked if I could have a look inside the cockpit, and was amazed by what I discovered, I told myself this was what I wanted to do!
Stubborn as I am, as the years went by, pilot was still the only career I dreamt of pursuing. By the time I went through college and neared the end of my studies, I attended quite a number of Air Shows. Mesmerized by the raw sound & incredible manoeuvres of fighter jets, my attention started shifting to military aviation.
In 2009, with my degree in my pocket, I enrolled as a student pilot with the Belgian Air Force when I was 17! After completing my military ATPL theory, I started flying on the Aermacchi SF260 Marchetti for the basic flying training. This was an incredible experience and by far the most exciting and interesting flying I’ve done so far. They ended up being the two best years of my life, but unfortunately I did not make the cut for the Advanced Training on Fighter Jets.
Up until this point I had never really considered flying helicopters. But, after the kind of flying I just experienced, I wasn’t ready to fly on autopilot just yet. I wanted a job where I could keep flying ‘hands on’, so I let the idea of flying airliners go and looked for an alternative.
That’s when I decided to give helicopters a try, despite not knowing much about the matter. I ended up loving it though, as I discovered the versatility and manoeuvrability of these epic machines. I started flying on the Cabri G2, a new and amazing little machine! After completing my CPL in 2012, I went on to do my Instructor License, as in Europe this is the quickest and easiest way to build your hours.
I started out my helicopter career doing freelance flight- and ground instruction for a few flight schools in Europe, for roughly a year.
What type of helicopter do you fly and for which company?
Through a friend of mine, I learned about a company called Zil Air, located in the Seychelles. He was already flying there and was uploading some amazing pictures. I decided to apply as well and, as soon as another pilot left, I got offered a position! I was very excited as this would be my first full-time flying job, and I’d get to fly turbine helicopters on a tropical island!
I have been flying with Zil Air for two and a half years now, on the Eurocopter (now called Airbus Helicopters) EC120 Colibri, doing mainly VIP transfers and scenic tours between the different islands. Every now and then we also get called upon for MEDEVACS, utility work, or assist the Coast Guard with SAR missions.
Do you hold any other license?
I have my FI License, though I have not been instructing since I started working at Zil Air. If I ever have the time and money to spare, I would love to get my Stuck Wing PPL as well. They can be great fun too, and I do miss it!
Have you experienced any type of emergency that you want to share?
I have had my share of technical defects, although luckily I have not yet been in an actual emergency. Unless desperately having to pee after several hours in the pilot seat counts?
Your plans for the future?
For now, I am quite happy with where I am, enjoying the scenery, climate and helicopters I get to fly around in. Though of course there are many goals I’d still like to achieve, different kinds of helicopter flying (slingloading, firefighting, twin, HEMS, SAR, …) to explore! I think this is one of the reasons I love flying helicopters, the opportunities in this career are endless… I am very ambitious, and there will always be new dreams and goals for me to chase and fulfil.
People that you want to thank or inspired you?
Many people have inspired me, from the Airline Pilots allowing me to peek inside the cockpit as a kid, to all the Demo pilots at the Air Shows, letting me sit in the hot seat of their fighter jets, cargo planes and helicopters. But most of all my parents, for taking me there and supporting me every step of the way! As everyone knows, becoming a pilot is a costly and risky affair, and without them, would simply not have been able to be where I am now.
Your message to upcoming pilots?
I believe motivation and passion is the key here. If flying is what you truly want to do, go for it and never give up. Everything is possible if you try hard enough! Always stay safe and professional, don’t try and ‘prove yourself’ to others. As they say: “There are old pilots, and bold pilots, but no old bold pilots.”
You can reach Tim Loens:
Thank you very much Tim for your interview! Another milestone of motivation is added to aviators through your story!
We wish you the best, safe landings, clear skies and a lot of hours in the air!