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Castle Air

By Wikipedia,
the free encyclopedia,

Castle Air
Founded 1979
Fleet size 3
Headquarters Liskeard , Cornwall
Key people

Castle Air is a British helicopter charter and sales company which specialises in the use of helicopters in TV and film. It is based in Trebrown, near the town of Liskeard, Cornwall.

Castle Air Charters Ltd holds a United Kingdom Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) Type B Operating Licence, it is permitted to carry passengers, cargo and mail on aircraft with fewer than 20 seats and/or weighing less than 10 tonnes.


Castle Air was founded in 1979 by Cornish entrepreneur Roy Flood as an offshoot of his Castle Motors car sales business. Flood entered aviation after losing his driving licence through speeding, and, in order to sidestep this inconvenience, learned to fly a helicopter.

The company began as what has been described as a 'glorified hut', home to a single Bell LongRanger. Castle Air enjoyed a growth spurt in the 1980s, as a number of ex-Navy pilots wishing to continue flying professionally joined the team. Among these are the company's two most famous pilots, Keith Thompson and Michael Malric-Smith, both of whom are now company directors. The company's inventory began to grow and change, acquiring Agusta A109 helicopters and Bell JetRanger aircraft (built under licence by Agusta).

Today, Castle Air is largely given over to aerial filming charter work, but it is also a helicopter sales business, importing aircraft from around the world and adapting them for British CAA certification. It also takes in aircraft for servicing, and is an authorised Agusta service centre. On occasion, the aircraft and pilots are called upon to do simple passenger flights - an occurrence rare enough to be a treat, as it is a rare opportunity to fly with all of the aircraft's doors on. Even more rarely, the company provides operational conversion training for experienced pilots wishing to certify on different aircraft.

Notable projects

Such is the volume of Castle Air's work, that on an average night's viewing of British TV, one is likely to see at least three pieces of their work. Much of this is behind camera. However, there are some projects with which Castle Air is intrinsically associated.

Principal among these is the game show Treasure Hunt, which saw Castle Air providing two aircraft - both Agusta-Bell JetRangers - and their peripheral crew. One aircraft, piloted by Keith Thompson, ferried the 'Skyrunner' to her destinations; a second helicopter, piloted by Jerry Grayson, Geoff Newman, Michael Malric-Smith, and finally Kevin Grey in the 2002 BBC2 series, chased the Skyrunner aircraft, serving as a communications relay between location and outside broadcast station, which was patched through to the studio via the telephone system.

Castle Air would contribute aircraft and pilots to Treasure Hunt's descendant, Interceptor. One helicopter, piloted by Jerry Grayson, would deposit the contestants to their start locations, while the other, an Agusta 109 piloted by Michael Malric-Smith, known forever to fans of the show as "Mikey" provided the main transport for the show's titular character.

Other projects with which Castle Air has been involved include the BBC series The Flying Gardener, Time Flyers and much of the filming for the video of the Robbie Williams track Angels.

Castle Air are also currently contracted to operate a helicopter service to Lundy Island during the months of November to March. Flights depart from Lundy's own heliport at Hartland.

External links

Text from Wikipedia is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License; additional terms may apply.

Published - July 2009

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