From Studio Director to Helicopter Pilot

From Studio Director to Helicopter Pilot

I was around six years old when the aviation bug bit me. You’d hear it first… the unmistakable sound of slapping rotor blades and twin turbine whistle. When the helicopter arrived overhead the noise and the downwash from the rotors was overwhelming to me as a boy. I remember catching the wonderful smell of jet fuel as the helicopter landed in front of me. The pilots always looked so cool, relaxed and in control. I couldn’t believe they could climb out of such a magnificent machine so nonchalantly, as if they had just been out for a walk. The helicopter was hands-down the most amazing, exciting and slightly scary thing I’d ever seen.

I grew up on a small remote island in Orkney, off the Northern tip of mainland Scotland. The island is called Auskerry and my parents decided to name my brothers and I after it. My wife Lizi has taken the name too, bringing the total number of ‘Auskeries’ in the world to four.

The island isn’t very big and my family of five were the only people who lived there, so excitement was in short supply most of the year. Auskerry is about three quarters of a mile long and half a mile wide. It has a 110-foot tall lighthouse at the Southern end, built in the 1860’s by the engineers David and Thomas Stevenson. The Northern Lighthouse Board, who have responsibility for keeping the light working, have for many years used a helicopter to bring men and supplies ashore from a ship which they would anchor off the shore. It was the bright red Bolkow Bo 105 helicopter they used that sparked my love for aviation. 

I wasn’t able to join the military and I couldn’t afford private training so I looked for other career options when I left school. I ended up at the BBC working on national radio – a career I thoroughly enjoyed for over a decade. As a hobby I got a licence to fly light aeroplanes and set up my Rory On Air YouTube channel to share my adventures flying microlight aeroplanes with friends and family. 

As wonderful as this was, spending time at airfields meant my obsession with helicopters grew stronger than ever so in October 2019 I decided to have one last attempt at achieving my childhood dream. I quit my job and began a year long integrated commercial helicopter pilot training course in Leicester, England. I graduated in January 2021 with a CPL(H) and a frozen ATPL(H)IR. I’m currently rated on the Cabri G2 and the Robinson R44 helicopters. I’m planning to become a flight instructor later this year and I hope to one-day work as a pilot in SAR, HEMS or NPAS. 

Come and say hello on instagram @roryauskerry and don’t forget to check out my helicopter and aeroplane flying videos at

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