ICE Helicopters announces a management buyout by Head of Training, Capt. Neil Day.
Established by Martin Varley in the autumn of 2019 with just a single R44, ICE Helicopters has become the fastest growing flight school in Europe. An extraordinary achievement as a relative newcomer within the industry, and with a global pandemic to ‘navigate’.
Varley, a serial entrepreneur, and industry disrupter had a clear vision of what he wanted his helicopter company to become and represent from the start. “ICE Helicopters was not only a passion and a dream but was also a profitable venture based on high-quality and customer focused training” says Varley.
With his own personal flight training experiences playing a part in shaping the creation and vision of ICE Helicopters, Varley was committed to offering an all-inclusive community with a great learning culture that is a fun and safe environment for all current and future pilots. Something which he’s proven to achieve with ICE Helicopters.
Since its incorporation, ICE Helicopters has had many great accomplishments; becoming one of the first flight schools to introduce a fixed-price helicopter pilot licence, a ground-breaking 5-day intensive ground school, and now a new CPL(H) course.
An important aspect in the ICE culture is taking pride and celebrating student accomplishments too. ICE Helicopters has had more than 15 skill test passes in the last 18 months alone, with many other celebrations of first solo-circuit flights, first solo cross-country navigation flights, theoretical exam passes, and of course students achieving their full pilot licences.
From being the first UK operator of 3 brand-new R44 Cadets to featuring in the world-renowned Vertical Magazine, ICE Helicopters has had many a momentous moment throughout Martin Varley’s ownership.
In Martin’s own words, however, “I always hoped that the team that built ICE Helicopters would one day own it and handing ‘the keys’ to Neil is a very special day for him and the team. As the lucky owner of the MD520 I will still be at Elstree most days and hope that I can help Neil deliver on all his plans in any way that I can.”
New owner, Capt. Neil Day, has been flying since 2001 and has now amassed over 6,000 hours in 11 helicopter types, achieving the highly coveted Examiner Rating in 2016.
Day, who has been Head of Training at ICE since 2019, says “it has always been an ambition to own a flight school and to provide budding pilots with a fun and relaxed, yet professional learning environment.”
Day assures that ICE Helicopters will continue to provide efficient and immersive training courses to current and prospectus pilots, whilst maintaining the welcoming community that Martin Varley instilled within ICE Helicopters.
With a change of hands, some things remain the same. The vision of remaining Europe’s fastest growing flight school is shared between Martin and Neil, in addition to both wanting to make people feel valued while they are learning to fly such complex but amazing machines.
The future of ICE Helicopters is an exciting one with Day promising “there’s lots of new and exciting developments for the business which I am excited to introduce.” These include virtual reality (VR) training, a fleet expansion of additional modern helicopters, and diversification of courses to include advanced flight training.
With many more accomplishments to come, the sky is the limit for ICE Helicopters. Under new but familiar ownership, ICE Helicopters will embrace 2023 and continue to achieve greatness, support its pilots, and strive to continue as the UK’s leading helicopter flight school.