Tom Barnard: I'd rather be on the ground wishing I'm flying, than flying wishing I'm on the ground

Interview + Photography by Luke Alland, using Leica's Q2 Reporter.


"They give you an oxygen bottle. They say it's good enough for about three breaths, but there's no way of knowing how much oxygen is actually in there... it's not pleasant, I didn't like it at all."


Tom Barnard is a bike mechanic-turned-civilian helicopter pilot. Living proof of those famous Armed Services adverts: if you can ride a bike, then you can fly a chopper. Granted, he didn't go down that particular route, but it's been a bit of a wild ride to get to where he is now.


We sat down with him at the Cafe House restaurant in Elephant & Castle to talk about how he actually got to fly helicopters, why he thinks they sometimes look a bit silly and why you should always check the weather before taking off... If you wondered what it's like learning to fly the rotorcraft that most of us won't ever travel in, Tom's your man.


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