Commercial, Personal/Corporate

U.K. entrepreneur looks to helicopters to help him bolster mobile home business

By Frank Wolfe | May 24, 2019
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Airbus is set to deliver this ACH130 with the "gypsy" tail identification to mobile home entrepreneur, Alfie Best, next week (Airbus Photo)

Alfie Best, the CEO of U.K.-based Wyldecrest Parks, is looking to rotor craft to help him bolster his mobile home business in the U.K. and the United States.

"I'm a hands on person," he said in a telephone interview May 24. "We have a duty to our residents. It's very important that I see our parks to see how we care for residents. Helicopters help me do that. I don't need an airport and can travel directly to the parks once or twice a week."

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Best said he bought an Airbus EC120 some seven years ago for such purposes and is expecting the delivery next week of an Airbus Corporate Helicopters ACH130--complete with a distinctive molten lava-camouflage paint scheme Best said he saw in a magazine. That ACH130 is to carry the Wyldecrest Parks logo.

"The EC120 is very under-powered," Best said of the model discontinued by Airbus in 2017. With a full fuel tank, the helicopter can carry fewer people than the five advertised, but the ACH130 will be able to carry seven, he said.

"It's the most stylish and spacious helicopter out there,"Best said of the ACH130. "I also looked at the [Airbus] H125, but it’s a very old looking machine, while the ACH130 is a very modern looking machine."

On May 22, Airbus said it would soon deliver the "strikingly painted" ACH130 to Best.

Airbus launched its executive helicopter brand at the European Business Aviation Conference and Exhibition (EBACE) in 2017 and displayed an ACH130 for the first time at last year's conference. Airbus Corporate Helicopters provides private and executive helicopters, similar to the Airbus Corporate Jet line.

Best takes pride in his roots. The son of impoverished Romany parents, he has told the story of how he was born in 1970 in a caravan in Lutterworth, outside Leicester, as his parents had travelled there the night before from east London.

While a teenager, Best broke into business helping his father pave driveways, then selling cars and vans before going bust in the recession of the early 1990s, then bouncing back as a mobile phone salesman and starting up his own chain of mobile phone stores in London--a business he sold in 2006. Best bought his first mobile home park in the U.K. in 2001, and Wyldecrest Parks now has some 75 residential mobile home parks--a number that makes Wyldecrest Parks one of the largest, if not the largest, such provider in Europe. Best's extended family have even bought some of his homes, he said.

"I always wanted to improve myself," Best said, adding that his parents are proud of his accomplishments. "I've taken the beauty of my culture and mixed it and become a well-rounded, better person for it."

In the midst of a 16 to 18 hour workday schedule, Best is also learning to fly helicopters although he said that he is likely to continue as a passenger on his business trips so that he can do work while in-flight. He said that he has been flying the Robinson R44 training helicopter and has about 15 more hours to go before receiving his pilot's license.

Such training has been a true learning experience. Last November, weeks after the crash of a Leonardo AW169 helicopter killed the owner of Leicester City football club and four other people, Best's aircraft flipped over after it landed half on soft ground and half on concrete, and Best attempted to take off again. The training pilot was seriously injured, but recovered, while Best sustained cuts and bruises.

The following day, Best said he flew again. "When you're knocked off, you've got to get back on the horse and ride it again," he said.

Wyldecrest Parks has 15 mobile home parks in the United States and is looking to increase its mobile home presence there.

"I'm hoping to improve mobile home living 10-fold," Best said. "I see a big market in improving people's lives for a minimal cost."

 

 

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