The 12th of April is a date on everyone’s lips, at long last elements of the third national lock down will end and, at least for al fresco dining and drinking, pubs and restaurants will fling open their doors. The next big step towards relative normality will be when the skies follow suit, and the world of travel re opens. For most, travel requires and entails some arduous waits at passport control, having your bag thoroughly searched when you forgot to put that glamorous stick of roll on deodorant in the pre-designated plastic sachet and minimal leg room. For the fortunate clients of Sentinel Aviation, this is not the case.
Roland Dangerfield (winner of my best name of the century award) is the founder and CEO of Sentinel Aviation; a private jet and helicopter charter which promises best in class service, discretion and travel experience.
I had the pleasure of speaking to Roland, about how his own background, why he decided to start Sentinel Aviation and what makes the company different to its peers. “When I retrained and got my pilot’s license in 2007 it was a bit like going back to school”, Roland explained, “There are 14 ground school exams to complete. After I completed my training I was lucky enough to pick up a job almost immediately flying a Challenger 604 for a European businessman on a private operation. Later I flew for another businessman and spent ten years flying for him until December 2019.”
I asked Roland about his experience’s in the cockpit, I had heard from other sources that the experience of flying is almost transcendent, an impossible thrill. “You know, when you fly into an airport as a pilot, and it’s an airport which you’ve only ever been to as a passenger, you pinch yourself because you can’t believe you’re flying a jet in.”
We spoke a little about the catalyst that had given Roland the final nudge towards setting up the company he had been chewing over for quite some time, “I had been furloughed when Covid-19 struck and I’m not very good at sitting still, doing nothing and 18 months prior to that I had put together an excel sheet of helpful contacts that would allow me to get my business off the ground. They were individuals who I could approach to do either charters, or who knew someone who might or someone who could help. It turned out to be quite a long list. Initially all my contacts told me that it wasn’t a good idea to start this venture and the market place was already saturated, but I knew I could do it better. In the summer I thought – ‘it’s time to do this now’ and I set up Sentinel Aviation.”
Roland’s focus is, simply put, to offer a better service and to instill total confidence in the company. “I think clients really like that Sentinel is a company looked after by pilots who have been to these destinations and who really know what they’re doing.”
“We are particularly keen on meticulous attention to detail so that when a passenger flies they really, really do get what they’re paying for. We want everything to be simple for the clients, we don’t want them to be having any unnecessary stress because these High Net Worth Individuals don’t need that.”
“We go through absolutely everything, it might be visas, weapons licenses for hunting trips, if you want to take your pet we’ll take your pet, do you want a helicopter waiting at the other end, the works. This is a complete service and no stone is left unturned. Ultimately our goal is always to give the clients a best in class experience”