Leicester man Dino Licheri is enjoying the high life after realising his lifelong dream and gaining his helicopter pilot’s licence.
It took months of study, hours of flying practice, testing exams and a diet and fitness regime to be physically ready, plus a cool £25,000 for lessons and helicopter time, before he could reach his goal.
But the 38-year-old Gaming Manager at Genting Casino Leicester reckons it was well worth it and he shared his joy by treating colleagues to a spin above the clouds.
Dino said: “I felt like I’d won the jackpot when I passed my test and gained my licence. I’ve always wanted to fly and at school I applied, unsuccessfully, to join the RAF. I thought then that it would remain a dream but some inheritance money and a helicopter flight during a holiday to New York rekindled the desire and prompted me to do something about it.”
To be medically fit enough to take on the challenge, Dino had to meet the exacting standards set by the Civil Aviation Authority. He changed his diet, goes swimming daily and has lost 15 kilos (2 stone 5lb) to date.
He started his training in November last year with Helicentre Aviation at Leicester Airport, fitting it around his full-time job at the Genting Casino in East Bond Street. As part of the rigorous requirements, he passed nine written exams, a radiotelephony practical test and a two hour skills test including a one hour navigation exam.
Dino also took to the air to complete a qualifying cross country navigational exercise consisting of a 110 nautical mile solo round trip with touchdowns at Connington in Peterborough and Gamston in Retford.
He achieved his private pilot’s licence to fly in the HU269 type of helicopter, also called a Schweizer 300cbi helicopter. It followed a total of 93 flight hours including an hour and a half at the controls of a Bell 206 Jet Ranger.
Dino said: “It has taken a lot of time and money but it has absolutely been worth it. My partner Charlotte has been very supportive and understood it was something I really wanted to do.”
Tom Ridley, General Manager of Genting Casino Leicester, where Dino has worked for 14 years, said: “Everyone here is pleased for Dino and proud of him too. It’s quite an achievement.”