The Becker's Are Flying High

The first day Becker Helicopter Services began business from an airport on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast, it poured rain all day and co-founder Jan Becker was in labour with her second child.

“I said to my husband, Mike, I don’t know whether this is good karma or bad karma,” Captain Jan Becker says. “But when is a good time to start a business? When is a good time to start a family?” That was in 1996. Today Becker Helicopters is a $20 million business with a staff of 70 and a fleet of 19 helicopters. While it provides some commercial helicopter services, including firefighting, its main focus is training helicopter pilots.



Jan Becker has been nominated as a finalist in the Telstra Businesswoman of the Year awards

Becker Helicopters trains more than 100 students a year, giving them a total of 15,000 hours of training. The company has specialised in training pilots to fly with night-vision goggles. Clients include many overseas military, including members of the United Arab Emirates Presidential Guard. “There is no other company in Australia that does what we do,” says Becker who is a finalist in the national Telstra Businesswoman of the Year awards to be decided next week. “It’s very specialised. We have spent a lot of money, energy and time creating a company that is extremely professional and extremely international.”

Becker and her husband were working in Papua New Guinea in the 90's when they decided they wanted to return to Australia and start their own business. She was a trained nurse and midwife and he was a helicopter pilot. They spent a year developing their business plan and chose the Sunshine Coast for its good weather and open air spaces.

Becker grew up in Singapore, where her father was involved in setting up a helicopter business which serviced the oil industry, and was keen from the beginning that their company had an international clientele. “If you train people from America and India and Asia and the Middle East and South Africa, you have a global business with global revenues,” she says.
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