Chopper adds thrills

BE it business or pleasure, or a combination of both, executives can have expensive tastes when it comes to transport.

That’s certainly the case for Perth businessman John Poynton, managing director of Poynton & Partners.

Not content with his 17 years flying fixed-wing aircraft, Mr Poynton obtained a private helicopter pilot’s licence in 1993, which he subsequently upgraded to a commercial license three years later.

In 1994 he went into partnership with Perth building tycoon Tim Roberts and bought a Jet Ranger helicopter. He sold his share last December and purchased a 2000 Squirrel helicopter from Japan.

Mr Poynton said he preferred helicopters because they were extremely satisfying and challenging to fly. The visibility from

a helicopter was also better than that from inside a fixed wing aircraft.

He frequently uses it as an extension to his business, by taking clients around the city or down for a bite of lunch at the Brookland Valley Estate’s Flutes Restaurant near Margaret River, in which he has a financial interest. The trip takes just 55 minutes.

“It’s something different and unique that we can use for business. It helps our business for sure,” Mr Poynton said.

About 80 per cent of the Squirrel’s time in the air is for business purposes. When he is not using it, the helicopter is available for charter.

“We certainly run it very much like a business,” Mr Poynton told WA Business News.

While others fly the helicopter, when Mr Poynton is on board he always likes to be behind the controls.

“I prefer to fly myself. I’m not a very good back-seat driver,” he said.

According to statistics from the Civil Aviation Safety Authority, the number of helicopters registered in Australia has grown from 649 in 1992 to 1,034 in 2002.

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