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Founder reflects on 50 years as helicopter company marks anniversary

David George (right), pictured with Andrea Mirteto, Leonardo’s vice president global sales Europe, and UK & Ireland head of region Jacapo Borghi

The business began with one Bell 47 helicopter providing charter and agricultural support services. 50 years on, it is preparing to open its fifth UK base early next year.

Sloane Helicopters, the UK’s longest-established privately owned helicopter company, celebrated its 50th anniversary with customers and suppliers at its headquarters in Hangar One at Sywell Aerodrome near Northampton.

The company has made substantial contributions to the aviation industry over the five decades, founder and chairman David George told guests at the celebration, including introducing Anglo-Italian manufacturer AgustaWestland’s AW109SP GrandNew multi-purpose helicopter to the UK emergency medical services market. Sloane currently operates EMS contracts for the air ambulance services covering Warwickshire and Northamptonshire, Derbyshire, Leicestershire and Rutland and the Irish Community Air Ambulance.

The company has also reintroduced the dedicated service to the Isles of Scilly from Penzance. It provides helicopter, engineering and training support for 32 (the Royal) Squadron as well as being an authorised service centre for both Robinson and Leonardo aircraft.

Mr George said: “I am very proud of what we have achieved during our first 50 years. There are few companies in the aviation industry who have achieved this milestone which would never have been possible without the dedication and loyalty of all of our present and past employees.”

Sloane’s initial success in the 1970s, led to the company becoming the UK’s first dealer selling aircraft for the Robinson Helicopter Company based in California. Sloane has sold more than 500 new Robinson helicopters during the 46-year relationship. In 1995, it became the UK and Ireland’s sole distributor for helicopters manufactured by Leonardo in Italy and has since sold more than 90 new Leonardo aircraft.

The company expects to open its fifth UK base at London Elstree Aerodrome early next year.