Flying on Abbott Air?

Everyone loves a helicopter flight!

I value the privilege of flight and love to share my passion with others. If you are to be a passenger in C-GHWI, whether on a charity flight, as a friend, or otherwise along for the ride, there are several things to know;

The Invisible Rotor. The tail rotor is deadly but almost invisible when spinning so if you remember nothing else, stay where you are in eye contact with the pilot at all times. If I am landing to pick you up, please wait until the blades have completely stopped moving before approaching the aircraft.

Windy. It tends to by windy around helicopters. Please leave scarves at home and put loose objects in a zip-up pocket. If our plan involves you departing the aircraft while the blades are turning, be mindful that although the mast is high, the blade tips may flap considerably; make like Hawkeye Pierce on M*A*S*H and duck. If a loose object gets away, I can assure you it is not worth reaching up to recover.

Your Controls. The seat belts work as you would expect, but don’t fully recoil so please do them up behind you before exiting lest they fall out the door. The windows are lightweight lexan material which is strong but scratches easily so please be cautious with cameras. Each occupant has a headset with voice activated microphone so that we can talk to each other; this will only work if you place within about 1 cm of your mouth and it is also directional so try twisting it a bit if you can’t hear yourself talking.

Grandmother’s China-cabinet. This one is difficult for people so if you really want to be in my top 10 percentile of favourite people, please, please, observe that these are not truck doors, they are light-weight expensive composite aircraft doors that need two hands to gently press closed, then slide the latch over and up. The reason it doesn’t slide over easily is because you have forgotten to push the metal tongue of seat belt back in to the latch and it is now banging against the nice blue paint.

Health. Let me know if you have any health concerns, particularly if it is something which may affect your balance or nasal/ear system. If we’re flying in the mountains, it’s especially important not to to have a blocked ear canal so I may ask you to take a decongestant prior to flight, change our route and/or reschedule.

We may not go. Take-offs are optional, landings are mandatory. Until the moment we depart, assume that the flight may be arbitrarily canceled for a seemingly trivial reason. And some flights don’t end up at their intended destination because weather changes quickly in our part of the world, or simply because the pilot decides it is safer to select an alternate destination.  I give your safety a higher priority than getting there.

Be prepared to walk. We live in a hostile environment, especially in the winter. I carry an excessive amount of survival gear, and also expect all passengers to be suitably dressed. I’m especially impressed when you show up with good footwear and layers suitable for the season.

Satellite Tracking. After (or during) our flight, you or your envious friend can monitor our track on google maps, how cool is that? I also carry a Delorme InReach two way satellite messenger so even if we have to make an unscheduled stop out of cellular coverage, you can send a text message, and receive a reply to it. Great fishing opportunities trump even the best of flight plans.

Liability. All passengers will have signed a waiver of liability (HWI PAX waiver). In Canada we have an outstanding pilot’s association insurance for private operation, but I choose not to pay for the optional passenger liability rider. This means that like many adventurous activities, you are required to acknowledge that participation is AT YOUR OWN RISK. As such, no tough question will offend me; you need to ask ask away before deciding that you want to fly. Please click to review & sign the waiver now to avoid paperwork later, thanks to Gregg’s excellent Inkdit!

The Pilot is qualified. I earned a commercial helicopter pilot’s license in 2004 and have flown regularly (usually weekly) since. I have about 1,500 hours flight time with varied night, mountain, and international experience.

The bird is safe. C-GHWI is a 2014 Robinson R44 Raven, upgraded by the manufacturer from my previous helicopter, a 1999 R44 Astro. It is in excellent condition and has been maintained to high standards by the meticulous folks at Genesis since birth.

Pickup location. I will generally pick you up the Springbank Airport (CYBW), specifically Mountain View Helicopters.  Thanks to the excellent folks at Mountain View whom you should call if you’re looking to hire helicopter services!

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