Interview with 82 Year old Helicopter Pilot Dennis Kenyon


Dennis Kenyon is an ex-Royal Air Force ‘Fast Jet’ pilot who has traded in helicopters for 40 years. In the military he flew many service types from the basic Tiger Moth trainer, the charismatic De Havilland Chipmunk, the twin-Cheetah engined Airspeed Oxford, and in the multi-engine category he practiced bombing and navigation techniques on the Vickers Varsity and Avro’s mighty four-engine Lincoln.

He converted to Jets at Weston Zoyland in 1954 flying Britain ‘s first combat jet, the famous Gloster Meteor Mk V111 and single-seat Mk1V. Later he qualified as a ‘Combat Star’ pilot in the English Electric Canberra B2 and T4 series. Other Jet types flown included the DH Vampire T11 and the Hunter Mk7 with further experience on the Percival Pembroke, the Hastings and the runabout Anson. He has accumulated 14,440 flying hours on 32 differing types of helicopter and 58 fixed wing types training around 200 pilots and selling over 300 aircraft.

Today, Dennis is a freelance flying instructor, display pilot, aviation writer, published author and columnist. He writes for several aviation magazines. His latest book is called “Dangerous Appointment” and is available to download on Amazon’s Kindle.

In 1992, Dennis became a world helicopter champion having won the ‘Freestyle’ event at RAF Wroughton. In more recent years he achieved a third place at Austria in 2002 and a fourth place in Germany 2008.

Readers can buy Dennis’ specialist display video “The Helicopter Experience” which contains a series of displays by Dennis and other leading display pilots. The proceeds of sale help support the ‘Dennis Kenyon Junior’ scholarship.

Dennis Kenyon is a CAA approved Flying Instructor (FI) and has been instructing since 1974. He is especially experienced on the Enstrom 280 & 480, Sikorsky 300 series, MD 500 & 520 Notar and Bell ‘s wonderful old Jetranger series.

He is the holder of the CAA ATPL (Air Transport Pilot Licence ) for both fixed wing and helicopters and has taken part in many feature films and TV programmes, such as ‘Black Hawk Down’, ‘Goldeneye’, ‘Magellan 2000′, ‘Rollerball’, ‘Inspector Morse’ and ‘To the Manor Born’.

In 2000, Dennis was awarded the CAA’s ‘Flying Safety Award’ for landing an Enstrom 280C Shark safely and without damage following a Tail Rotor failure at Biggin Hill.” In 2011, Dennis was awarded the Royal Aero Club’s ‘Diploma’ in recognition of his long flying career and his services to the aviation industry.

Dennis Kenyon has been a Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) approved helicopter display pilot since 1974 and has completed 1500 hours of public displays and practices at major air shows in the UK and internationally. He is approved by the CAA as a display evaluator (DAE) allowing him to issue and renew pilot’s Display Authority (DA).

Dennis has represented the United Kingdom in the ‘Freestyle’ section of five World Helicopter Championships (WHC). He achieved a fifth place in the 1986 event flying an Enstrom 280C Shark. Dennis followed this by winning the 1992 title outright at RAF Wroughton, again flying an Enstrom Shark.

At the 2002 WHC held in Austria Dennis took the third place flying a Schweizer 300C. The 2005 event was held in France where he was awarded the highest points total for his wonderful Schweizer 300C display but sadly had to forfeit first place when he left the 500 metre display box. Dennis feels his Rouen display flown to the music of Ravel’s Bolero was technically his best ever.

In 2008, Dennis made a fifth WHC entry at the old ‘Cold War’ Russian border airfield at Eisenach where, using an Enstrom 28A model, he achieved a fourth place.

Dennis continues his display programme for private events and air show organisers who can book his unique helicopter display. Helicopters available include the Enstrom Shark, an Enstrom 480 turbine, the Schweizer 300 or the turbine MD500.

Dennis’ display programme is managed by Brendan O Brien’s ‘Flying Circus’ where a variety of aviation displays including truck-top landings, pyrotechnic night displays and unusual flying stunts can be booked.

Helicopter pilots interested in obtaining a CAA approved ‘display authority’ are offered a ten-hour ‘Display & Flying Demonstration’ course on suitable helicopter types. Please obtain a copy of the CAA’s document CAP 403 and make e-mail contact with Dennis for details. Pilots should ideally have around 500type hours experience.

Dennis Kenyon has been involved in helicopter ownership and sales for forty years. He specialises in the light piston market, such as the Enstrom 28/280 range and the original Hughes, now Schweizer/Sikorsky 300 series. In the turbine market, he likes to handle the MacDonnell-Douglas MD 369- 500 models including the wonderful ‘Notar’ (no tail rotor) versions. He has extensive experience of the lovely old workhorse of the helicopter industry being Bell ‘s marvellous 206 Jetranger and 206L Long Ranger models.

Flying a helicopter privately needs specialist knowledge and experienced advice to ensure safe and successful operations. Helicopters invariably employ dynamic components that have a published ‘life’ and this can be as many as fifty items that need to be understood. This component life falls into three categories being: Overhaul life, Inspection life or Scrap life and it is important when making the purchase of a helicopter that the buyer is aware of flying times and in particular the ‘life’ remaining of each component. As an example, an HIO360 engine overhaul can cost anywhere between £15,000 & £25,000 which, like the other finite life components, has a significant effect on helicopter value.

Additionally, helicopters are subject to the manufacturer’s ‘calendar’ or ‘hours-flown’ inspections. Such inspections can be mandatory, recommended or advisory and it is also important that buyers become aware of the exact component situation and the association replacement costs.

Dennis Kenyon has completed the sale of a over 300 aircraft and has wide sales experience to assist first time buyers. A detailed component schedule is made available with every aircraft he has for sale. Other items to be addressed are the routine maintenance requirements, hangarage, legality of landing sites and environmental flying techniques.

Owners may also need specialist advice on the insurance requirements and likely CSL rates. In the UK , the London Lloyds market is the prime aviation insurer and Dennis is always happy to act as initial intermediary with brokers to enable buyers to obtain impartial advice. He does not accept commissions for placing his customer’s business.

He is also available to advise purchasers on available finance in the form of aircraft mortgages or more straightforward hire purchase agreements.


Display Footage by William Hobbs

Interview by Steve Allison