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By Caterina Hessler - Water, scenic coastlines and adventure – for many people Majorca, Spain is the ideal destination for their vacation. For some people the island is a place of work. The members of the crew of Rotorflug International are living the dream of flying in paradise.

It is what pilots are dreaming of: little heaps of clouds in the steel blue sky, towering mountains on the horizon and a Bell 206 flying low-level over the blue water of the Mediterranean Sea. It was the idea of Frank de Vries to found a helicopter company on the Spanish Island. Born in the Rhineland of Germany, he moved to the Balearic Islands in 2004. There he discovered the lack of helicopter companies on the islands and had the idea to start his own helicopter business. Frank already had his private helicopter licence at that time and started studying for the CPLH (Commercial Pilot Licence Helicopter) soon after.

After gaining his commercial helicopter licence he searched for a related enterprise to implement his idea. He found it in the Rotorflug GmbH based in Germany. In August 2009 Rotorflug Helicopter SL commenced the daily business on the island. Majorca still is the first choice for Frank de Vries. “We have 330 days of sunshine each year, a challenging landscape, great landing places and only few restrictions,” he explained. The first helicopter of the company was a R44 Raven II D-HDJIP, with pop-out floats – it is based near the airport of Palma. Both tourists and residents alike were really enthusiastic about the service of Rotorflug, and soon the capacity of the R44 reached its limit.

As a result, the R44 Raven I D-HYPE and the Bell 206 Jet Ranger D-HONY were introduced to the fleet. Later on the Bell 206 L D-HOTT completed the helicopter pool.

A special service provided by Rotorflug International is safety training for pilots who already have a licence. The island’s environment offers ideal conditions to practice flying techniques in different scenarios. “We have reams of external landing places – we can land at Fincas, hotels or golf clubs – basically everywhere except for the beach. You can do nearly everything you ever wanted. If you, for example, want to gain more experience in aircraft-radio you can land at Palma de Mallorca International Airport or just cross it. Most pilots are really excited about testing their limits in different climates. The highest mountains of Majorca are about 4000 feet high – if you fly there in those tropical temperatures and density you can really comprehend what hot and high means in real life!” de Vries says.

In cooperation with Rotorflug GmbH in Germany, the company offers a combined helicopter pilot education. This means, people who want to get their pilot licence can travel to Majorca, get about 20-30 flight hours there (until they are qualified for solo flights) and then get the examination and the flight check in Germany. Of course, Rotorflug International offers type ratings for Bell 206 and R44 in Palma, too.

If needed you can book a special service as well. “We had one student who stayed in a hotel nearby. Every morning, before the lesson started, we flew to the hotel to pick him up. He quite enjoyed this taxi service,” de Vries comments.

Majorca is the ideal place for pilots who want to fly throughout the whole year. “When there's winter in northern Europe, the Balearic Islands still have great weather. In summer we sometimes have to calculate our fuel mass very carefully – especially when we have temperatures of about 38 to 40 degrees Celsius and a high density – in winter it is a lot easier,” says de Vries. Another highlight of the island is its terrain. Similar to other countries, commercial passenger flights with single engine helicopters over open watersides are prohibited in Spain. Private flights and especially the education over the Mediterranean Sea are allowed, though, and are truly a delight.

Although up to now, only 10 percent of the customers of Rotorflug are Spanish (the other 90 percent are tourists who want to discover their vacation place from the sky), Frank de Vries is optimistic that his company will continue to grow. “The Spanish people are not annoyed at all by our enterprise. On the contrary, they are rather enjoying the possibility of helicopter flights in this area,” de Vries explains.

At the moment, Rotorflug’s main business segment consists of sightseeing flights and special adventure flights such as “Helo and Lunch,” “Helo and Wine,” or “Helo and Wellness.” The second area covers photo and film flights. “We have had about 30 shootings this year, most agencies that booked us were from the German or Spanish TV,” says de Vries.

If you want to upgrade your training level on the island and combine it with a family vacation, Rotorflug may help you, too. “If the father wants to fly helicopter, the mother likes to indulge in wellness and the daughter is keen to ride horseback, we will find a solution for you. We are cooperating with many hotels and clubs around the island and are able to offer you a complete package to satisfy the whole family,” laughs de Vries. Majorca is always worth a visit – especially if you have the chance to get airborne.

 

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