The cockpit of our light aircraft registration G-CGDW (Delta Whisky) is on the 'landing page' of our website at www.onega.net and is available for any member of staff to use for business purposes.
One of the joys of working in a relatively small company is that you have the opportunity to be agile, pivot on a sixpence and explore new directions. So it was with aircraft. Ben was building a SportCruiser himself and when the opportunity came up to take on UK representation and sales for the aircraft, he grabbed it with both hands. Partly this was so that as an owner to help provide the best possible factory links and ongoing support, but also seeing the opportunity to develop sales and business in light aviation - the bulk of the UK training fleet consisting of venerable but well time served planes like the Cessna 152 and Piper Warrior PA-28 which where from an earlier era.
So we set about the endeavour with gousto and between 2009 and 2011 sold more new light aircraft than any other seller in Europe by quite some margin. We had two excellent Pilots, Daisy and Patrick who did demo flights for potential clients and helped new owners to fly their new planes back from the factory which was for fun and safety equally. We had an excellent backup team with Helen and Brian taking care of client support and engineering, and good fun with it.
We enjoy working with IT, and as flying was another passion, if you get the opportunity to combine love and work then the saying goes that you then never work another day in your life which was true in this case. The aircraft, engineering, clients were all superb and we made many friends in the process of the business.
The plane is a Czech Sport Aircraft SportCruiser / PS-28 all metal, two seat aircraft powered by a 100HP Rotax 912ULS engine. It features a modern glass cockpit from Dynon, and has been put to good use by ourselves as a sales and technology demonstrator. Features like a whole plane parachute from BRS (Balistic Recovery Systems) mean that it is one of the safest planes available and has an excellent record on that front.
There is an old saying that there is a sure formula for making a small fortune out of light aircraft which we'll share with you here - start with a big one! Ever a true word was said in jest... we thus did pretty well by breaking even on the venture commercially but gained a lot in joy and experience in the ups and downs (sorry for the pun) along the way.
Our decision to cease operations of the aviation division was a hard one at the time and the end of a happy era in the company's history but we also recognised that 100% focus on our core business of IT Services for London and the world beyond was best use of our resources.
Though we are primarily an IT support company, we have staff who have many interests and a wide range of knowledge. From time to time we take calls which are slight digressions from core activities, but for a client we're always willing to help with problem resolution / or pointing in the right direction. One of these calls a little while back was from a client who was in the cockpit of his own plane (a very nice Cessna) in this case, and was finding frustration in programming the Garmin Navigation system. We like that kind of call and challenge. Like many things, the manuals are on the web and understanding the aviation side of things as well as general IT helps - with some quick searches we found the answers we needed to talk our client through the screens and menus of the nav system to achieve what they wanted to do. Happy client and problem solved on first call for us. One thing we say about Onega that makes us different from many as an IT company is that 'we don't flip burgers' - we enjoy using our mental elasticity to solve wider problems, so feel free to challenge us also.
The SportCruiser / PS-28 (the latter being the newer name for the plane) is availble going forward in the UK from The Little Aircaft Company at Kemble, run by Hilton Belter who we're confident will take good care of any requirements and we wish them the best of luck going forward.