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All About Aviation Insiders Interview – Dimitris Ververelis, Corporate helicopter pilot

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All About Aviation Insiders Interview – Dimitris Ververelis, Corporate helicopter pilot
June 25
09:30 2015

It all started with a childhood fascination with flying. Since then, Greek helicopter pilot Dimitris Ververelis earned the industry nickname of “The Wizard” thanks to his impressive flying skills and incredible experience in the aviation industry.

After serving in the Hellenic Army Special Forces he became a paragliding instructor before leaving Greece to attend flight school in the United States. Upon graduating with his commercial license he started off his career in Van Nuys, California at Group 3 Aviation.   He became a certified flight instructor and after returning to Greece, Ververelis innovated in the Greek aviation industry by developing the first helicopter pilot application for the Greek aviation industry.

Today, his skills are a highlight at the annual Athens Flying Week. He is the first Greek pilot to perform a televised full loop with a helicopter. His air displays include backward movements with quick changes of heading, back and front pirouettes, 90 degree climbs, 360 vertical dives, dog turns and full down auto rotations. Ververelis also works as a VIP helicopter pilot for private clients.

Ververelis sat down with All About Aviation recently to tell us more about his diverse and fascinating career in aviation.

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All About Aviation.gr: You are trained in 15 helicopter types! What inspired you to become a helicopter pilot? 

My parents always told me that as a child I was always fascinated by planes.  I remember as a boy I started to save money with the dream to just to fly to Thessaloniki and back!

All About Aviation.gr: How does your US work experience compare to working for the Greek Aviation Industry? 

I am afraid there is no comparison.  The United States is paradise for aviation. In Greece, although the landscape is extremely beautiful for helicopters and although we need helicopters, the Greek authorities seem to hate them.  A part of this issue is the fact that helicopters don’t use airports. So authorities think a helicopter is like a bird flying all over the place with no rules, but it is not like that at all. Another problem for Greek authorities is the fact that helicopters go very slow for them.  This is not convenient for air traffic controllers to have these slow flying helicopters in their airspace because they feel helicopters would get in the way of airplane. It is not like that at all.

Helicopters are used for safety missions, medical and emergency reasons and for VIP services. Helicopters accomplish missions in an easy, fast and safe way.

All About Aviation.gr: Which is your most memorable air experience so far?

I could say so many things including the amazing sunsets, sunrises and landscapes I have witnessed. I could even recall some bad weather I had been in.   However, I’d say it was the first airshow we participated in called Athens Flying Week. We have a Wizard helicopter team and what we do is display the awesome maneuverability of helicopters. It is something I love and I think is so fun.

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All About Aviation.gr: Tell us a little bit more about your involvement in the paragliding training? 

Paragliding training was a way for me to make the money I needed to go to flight school in the United States. I had to find a way to get paid by flying to do what I wanted.  Paragliding won’t develop much because things are difficult with aviation in Greece. The authorities don’t want anything to fly. They seem to think it is better for security for no one to fly than to make and enforce simple rules.  However, none of the authorities has earned airmanship or is an aviator.

All About Aviation.gr: You have been involved in implementing technology in the aviation industry, please tell us more about your initiative? 

I have an education in computer science so I tried to implement my knowledge in the aviation area. Why was that? Well, 20 years ago there was absolutely no information for helicopter pilots in Greece.   You couldn’t find anything – not even a map! So, we slowly started to collect info about heliports, terrain and service of airports. That was how greekhelicopters.gr was born. Now we have other products including applications for the iPad. We now provide airplane data as well. We’re talking about data that simply wasn’t available before and but was very much needed in the industry.   We also track all the helicopters that want to be tracked.

All About Aviation.gr: What challenges do you face working as corporate helicopter pilot? 

It is a responsibility for sure. The corporate pilot has to take care of the helicopter, the passenger and himself. There is no company to give him information and flight plans so all this must be done by the pilot himself.  It is good and bad but one thing it is for sure is time consuming. That is why I created the pilot app.

Being a corporate pilot is demanding. We always work with businessmen with very expensive helicopters and they want to go where they want when they want. In the summer, for example, I have a two hour notice before take off time.  That means I have less than an hour to get ready and then I must commute to be at the helicopter. This kind of on-demand work is something you choose. The challenge is that you have to be 100 percent and ready 27/7. Everything has to be done quickly. Pilots that go into corporate must have experience, be organized and be very professional.

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