Ronan Lamichhane is not a newbie in the aviation industry of Nepal. A 29 years old boy hailing from Syangja, Ronan has 12 years of experience of aviation market of Nepal.
A serial entrepreneur who is also involved in LP gas and petroleum sector, Ronan has recently introduced gyrocopters (light helicopters) in Nepal though the company Heli Air Nepal.
In a conversation with Glocal Khabar, Ronan, Managing Director the company, shares his inspiration story of introducing gyrocopter operations in Nepal.
I was trying to find something in the aviation market as I was introduced to aviation industry from an early age.
What I was looking for is, I wanted a machine that can fly even in the worse weather in the high mountain terrain because I have seen so much of accidents in the mountain terrain of Nepal. The weather condition is worse in the mountain terrain here in Nepal. Normal helicopters are made to fly for much lower altitude. But, here in Nepal, we have to fly upto 14,000 feet altitude whereas these aircraft are made for 6-7000 feet altitude max to take up and land.
I was looking to bring such an aircraft in Nepal that is not influenced by wind turbulence. If there is any wind turbulence, it should turn back straight. Gyrocopters have a special capacity, if it doesn’t want to go forward while in the air, it can take a turn without even going single feet further ahead. So that in the mountain terrain, you can fly as near as you want. That makes it the much appropriate machine for mountain flight.
We started looking for the machine and found the gyrocopters it already been used in UK, USA, Australia, Canada, Switzerland, Poland, Belgium, Sweden, and almost everywhere in the world, forget about South Asia. It was already proved in those countries. – Ronan
Ronan himself went to France to check the machine in 2015. He flew above Mont Blanc, the highest mountain in Europe. He flew in that machine above 15,000 feet. Being convinced of the machine, Ronan decided to give a go for the aircraft.
The French manufacturer, from who Heli Air brought two machines, is the supplier of gyrocopters almost all over the world.
The crafts fly from Pokhara Airport and have already been to Baglung, Jomsom, and many other destinations.
Sight-seeing and mountain flight to be the top focus
All the tourists come to see the beauty of Nepal. Talking about aerial tourism in Nepal, we have already seen ultralight and other helicopters. So, I thought why not a gyrocopter too? And, what’s more interesting about this machine is, it has 360-degree visibility.
We do have one of the best photo and 3D animation system in our aircraft. So, you can see the video of your flight later on in 3D. So, people can see the mountains with 3D glasses in the TV.
Every person who flies in the gyrocopter gets their video recorded paying an additional fee of USD 25.
Challenges in the business
As nobody had thought about introducing gyrocopter services in South Asia prior to Heli Air Nepal, it was definitely a challenging thing for Ronan. “Along with the machine, we had to manage manpower and maintenance system,” he shares, adding, “We Nepalese should feel proud that gyrocopter has been first launched in Nepal in South Asia.”
As there are no licensed gyrocopter pilots in Nepal, they also had to bring two pilots from abroad, one French and one German.
“Being a different kind of player on the field, there is of course a challenge ahead to make people understand about it. But, we are hopeful,” shares Ronan.
The initial days of operation
This six weeks of operation is very enthusiastic, shares Ronan. “We have as many as half a dozen flights a day. It has already shown a right signal that aerial tourism with gyrocopters will be a successful venture in Nepal,” he adds.
Ronan vividly remembers the first client, a Chinese national who flew in the craft on September 1, who really enjoyed the one-hour-long flight and passed a good comment about his flight experience. “International tourists have shown special interests in the service compared to Nepali citizens. So far, visitors from China, Europe, and USA among other nations have flown in the gyrocopter,” adds Ronan.
Earlier, if somebody wanted to come to Pokhara, and fly at high altitude, they could only charter a helicopter that has a small window of only 1.5 feet, from which you cannot really feel the mountain. You can just feel it but your heart doesn’t touch that mountain. This machine has a panoramic view of 7 feet by 9 feet. The aircraft especially suits for luxury travel as it consists of bubbled out windows which are quite comfortable for 360° view and photography.
“Those who have flown in our gyrocopters are really happy. We are giving five-star facility to all our clients,” Ronan further shares.
The company plans to add one additional Gyrocopter and two factory-made Bell 505 Jet Ranger X helicopters in the near future.
In the duration of next 5 years, Ronan has plans to develop Heli Air Nepal as one of the major heli service providers in Nepal.
“We want to make it a premium light helicopter operator in South Asia. We have plans to add more helicopters gradually,” Ronan says, adding, “Other than sightseeing and mountain flights, the helicopters will also be used as air ambulances, for scientific purposes, filming, news collecting, sky diving, aerial photography and more.”
Words to the budding entrepreneurs:
Believe on yourself and do not listen to what others say about your work. You should carry on your own, but you should get some support from others, if you can. Don’t need to worry if people are not supporting you. One day, you’ll surely reach your dream destination if you pursue it relentlessly. But, you shouldn’t be afraid ‘Oh, I cannot do that’. There is nothing that is impossible to do.
How much does it cost you to fly the gyrocopter?
The company has so far introduced 5 kinds of packages.
You can discover the beauty of Pokhara on the 15 minutes flight and feel the exhilaration of flying above Pokhara city. This heli ride offers you majestic and panoramic bird’s eye view of Pokhara city and landmarks, and will cover Pokhara City, Sarangkot, Phewa Lake, World Peace Pagoda, Lakeside, Queens Forest at $ 149.
Similarly, you can fly over heavenly mountains over the white clouds soaring up higher and higher. In this 30 min flight, you’ll enjoy the former 15 mins, foot hills of Mt. Fishtail & Annapurna Range, Seti River, Panchase Village, Dhampus (Gurung Village), and Australian Camp at $ 249.
Likewise, you can fly above the Great Himalayan Trails. In this 60 minutes flight, you can enjoy the abovementioned 30 mins journey, along with Sikles Village, Tangtin Village, Annapurna Himalayan Range, Kawache Snow Lake, Lamjung Himal, Mt. Fishtail, Seti Valley, and Mardi Himal at $ 398.
You can also charter the aircraft and fly away into the deep gorges & inner sights of 8000 plus of the mountains. This 90 mins long aerial tour ensures breath taking and unforgettable life time experience. It will cost you $ 548.
Lastly, you can encounter the mesmerizing Himalayas in an alpine tour, with exceptional panoramic views of the imposing mountains as you gradually ascend for your destination. This is the last resort to flying crazies. This 120 min long flight will cost you $ 698.
Startups for a better Nepal!
Presentation: Basanta Kumar Dhakal