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Those needing to travel to and from the Isles of Scilly now have another, more resilient way of getting there. After a long campaign, a much-missed helicopter shuttle service between the islands and the British mainland has started again. The connection provides an essential service and lifeline for the islanders, allowing medical trips to Penzance in just 15 minutes.
The inaugural flight departed from the new Penzance Heliport at 8 a.m. March 17, 2020, travelling to St. Mary’s in the Isles of Scilly.
The service had run for over 48 years, and was being provided by British International when it ceased in October 2012. The new service – known as Penzance Helicopters – is operated by Sloane Helicopters, one of the U.K.’s leading onshore helicopter operators with 49 years’ experience, in partnership with Tresco Estate.
Penzance Helicopters will be using a Leonardo AW139 for the service, but is waiting for that aircraft to arrive from China, where it was being used on a short term contract. In the interim, a six-seater VIP Leonardo AW109 SP is being used to fly passengers to either St. Mary’s or Tresco.
“Re-establishing the helicopter link to the Isles of Scilly will be the highlight of my career,” said Justin Wood, general manager at Sloane Helicopters. Wood is a former Isles of Scilly helicopter pilot, who flew the AW139 for search-and-rescue operations. “It’s a great pleasure to be part of the team bringing a fast and convenient service to Scilly – benefiting both island communities and visitors alike”.
The exact timing of the AW139’s arrival is unknown, although it is hoped the aircraft will be welcomed to Penzance soon. The 15-seater helicopter will provide a reliable year-round service with up to 17 flights per day, six days a week.
“Our Penzance Helicopters service will be of great benefit to both islanders and visitors – much improving connectivity to the Isles of Scilly,” said Jeremy Awenat, managing director of Sloane Helicopters. “The near sea level heliport location, combined with the outstanding aircraft performance and safety characteristics, offers enhanced weather resilience and reliability, minimizing disruption to passenger journeys.”