Yes you can, but please bear one thing in mind. Many private owners set out to gain their pilot’s licence and fly themselves. There is nothing wrong with this if you’ve got plenty of spare free time to spend poring over weather reports, notams, AIP supplements, and other pre-flight planning information as well as time for filing flight plans, carrying out the daily pre-flight inspection and refuelling the helicopter. Once you’re airborne, you’ll have to know all the local airspace boundaries, procedures and radio protocol. Navigation is made easier nowadays with the latest GPS equipment, but be prepared to spend some time learning how to drive it; you’ll find it has more functions than your mobile phone. Once you’ve safely reached your destination, be prepared to keep a close eye on the weather if you need to return home the same day. The weather in New Zealand can deteriorate rapidly. To relax and relieve any stress lemonade is the only answer, as a cold beer is not an option. When your return flight is complete, allow another five minutes to fill in the paperwork, five minutes to tie the blades down or put the helicopter away in the hangar, 10 minutes to tidy the cabin and vacuum the carpets, and five minutes to clean the windows ready for tomorrow. If you’re the fussy type, you’ll want to drive out to the hangar on the weekend to give the helicopter exterior a good clean and wax (allow 4-6 hours).

Having a professional pilot is not only safer but will save you money with reduced insurance premiums. The more experience a pilot has, the lower the premium. A reduction of 1% on the insurance premium can equal savings up to NZD$30,000 per year.