Paul, with his team, preparing for, and ultimately winning,
the Red Bull FlugTag competition 2008
Under the guidance of his Grandfather, Paul was flying model aircraft at age 6. By age 14, at his local flying club, he was Chief Test Pilot, Club Instructor and was trusted by the most senior members to fly their large multi engine scale bombers. By 17 Paul had mastered all forms of flying vehicle including, rotary, gliding and autogyro’s.
Paul’s extraordinary flying skills soon attracted the attention of commercial model companies and sponsorship deals followed – one of which required him to fly a 22 ft wing span 4 engine bomber at public flying displays. Paul was ultimately recruited by Ripmax PLC – one of the leading model aircraft companies, where he was involved in developing and testing all types of product. Ripmax sent him around the world to display both their products and his talents flying every type of model available.
Paul founded the Paul Heckles School of Flying – now Paul Heckles Flight Centre.
In addition to his extraordinary flying skills, Paul has a remarkable ability to transfer some of those skills to others. Here’s Jonathan M reporting back on the RCME forum after spending time with Paul:
Had my first intermediate training session yesterday with Paul Heckles (near Swindon), and very pleased indeed.
In one afternoon of training, my understanding of piloting of a model in the air has been fundamentally transformed. I won't go into the finer detail or his teaching-style here, suffice that I woke up this morning strongly aware of the changes in how I think about it. Reviewing in my mind's eye the various training flights I made (rather than referring to any notes I jotted down during the de-brief afterwards), I'm confident that I've absorbed these first key lessons.
PS - Paul also quickly suggested minor tweaks on my TX so that roll and pitch rates on my Acrowot are now better harmonised. And he got my FS engine running perfectly: reliably now at slow tickover, quick and unfaltering in acceleration, etc.
-- Jonathan M - RCME forum
The Flight Centre has, over the years, expanded its role from model flight training to paramotor training and, more specifically some 15 years ago, began working with the Department of Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering at the University of Southampton in support of their UAV development activities.
This relationship has led Paul to test fly a vast range of highly experimental autonomous designs both fixed wing/rotary and multi rotor. The latest is a 305kg multi engine UAV with the capability to carry a 150kg payload.
So – in aggregate – Paul’s skills and experiences make him one of the world’s most experienced Test Pilots. Not only has he flown the widest possible range of experimental and autonomous UAVs but he has immersed himself in the processes, protocols and operational procedures that surround UAV testing environments.