Our Instructors

Simon Spencer-Bower, QSM

Simon is the Owner/CEO of Wanaka Helicopters and is the Chief Flying Instructor. He is one of New Zealand’s most experienced helicopter flight instructors, is an A-category Instructor (the highest category in NZ), and is also a General Aviation Flight Testing Examiner.

Simon learnt to fly aeroplanes in 1967 at Canterbury Aero Club, in Christchurch, NZ and since has flown a large number of various types of aeroplanes and helicopters on different jobs and in various countries. In 1985, he represented NZ at the World Vintage Aerobatics Championships in England flying a Tiger Moth, achieving 3rd place. Simon is an experienced airshow display pilot and in the past has displayed various aircraft owned by the Alpine Fighter Collection, including the Zero, Spitfire, and Yak 3, and many helicopter types.

Simon has operated helicopters commercially since 1980 and has been instructing on helicopters since 1984, first on an Enstrom, then the Hughes 300 and now primarily on the Robinson R22. He is rated on most types currently being operated in New Zealand. He has attended various Robinson Helicopter Company Instructor’s Courses in the USA and is considered to be the world’s highest houred Robinson helicopter pilot with over 13,000hrs logged in R22’s and over 1,700hrs in the R44.

In 2002, Simon won the prestigious NZ Director of Civil Aviation Authority award, given to an individual, for outstanding service and contribution to aviation safety in NZ.

In 2009, Simon was awarded the Greg Vujcich Memorial Award given for excellence in general aviation flight instruction, by the New Zealand Airline Pilot’s Association. Greg Vujcich was a well respected and experienced airline flight instructor, instructing on all types of airliners up to Boeing 747’s and this award was created in memory of his life’s achievements.

In 2010, Simon was honoured in the New Years Honours and awarded the Queens Service Medal for services to aviation.

In 2015 he was awarded the W.A. “DUB” BLESSING AWARD for CFI (Flight Instructor) OF THE YEAR at the Helicopter Association International (HAI) ‘Salute to Excellence’ awards dinner at Heli-Expo in Orlando, Florida. 

Nick Millar

Nick started his flying career with Wanaka Helicopters in 1998, and after achieving a Commercial License, went on to gain a Grade 2 Agricultural Rating.

Nick then flew as an agricultural pilot for many years in addition to working on many varied commercial operations including charter, heli-skiing, sling, pest and wild animal recovery, film and photography in Southland, Otago and Fiordland.

As a senior B-category Instructor with over 5000 hours flight time, Nick has trained many pilots who have benefitted from his broad experience and practical, efficient manner.

Dean Williamson

Nelson born and Rotorua raised, Dean started flying with the Rotorua Aero Club in 1979 and converted to helicopters in 2003.

Dean spent many years travelling the world and has been heavily involved in the Aviation, Travel & Tourism industries, working in the UK, Europe, India, Australia and North America.

His flying has spanned the length and breadth of NZ from the North Cape to Bluff and the past few years have seen him flying around the Fiordland, Southland and Otago regions. Dean is a senior B-category Instructor with over 2500 hours instructing on helicopters. Dean’s interests include windsurfing, skiing, motor sport, piano and guitar.

Please contact us for more information through our enquiry form.