Safety When Flying in Heli-Style - Mountain Buzz

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Old 01-11-2006   #1
Mad Scientist/Creeker
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 805
Safety When Flying in Heli-Style

Going to New Zealand? Interested in finding that first descent that is just so deep in the wilderness that hiking in is barely an option and you've got some extra sponsor money to blow? Before you embark on the heli-ride of your life first read this article @

Evan J. Stafford
Tim Hawkins
[email protected]

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Old 01-11-2006   #2
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Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 787
Nice educational 'safety' article!

I flew with Dando @ 15 times and all were smooth. The one time we flew with that company that does the net thing the guy dropped our boats (with my video camera inside my boat) two miles from the put-in and proceeded to scream at us (most of us were already at the put in) telling us we were fucked and that he was outta there and that we could bushwack downstream for two miles, try to find our boats and deal. It was already about 2pm, we had a 8-11mi run ahead of us and of course no overnight gear. Luckily someone in the group stepped up, made that jerk pilot fly to fox glacier and pick someone up who would repel out of the heli and re-attach our boats. We were on the water by 4pm.
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Old 01-12-2006   #3
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Yes. Dando is certainely the best. He knows the current weather conditions and flows and he makes a genuine effort to cater to the scum bag kayaking community that we are. I believe Alpine Adventures is the other company that you are referring to Meng and they tend to service rivers further to the south (on the West Coast of NZ). They are primarily a "Scenic Flight" operation but this is no excuse for the b.s. that you described above. That is ridiculous, an outrage, but I'm guessing that you were dealing with some young buck who thought he was a bad ass until he dropped all your gear and then he couldn't handle it.
James Scott, the guy who I believe is the owner and who is usually the regular kayak pilot is actually quite a stand up guy and is usually very helpful. I would reccomend Dando (Kokatahi Helicopters) if you are anywhere near Hokitika but as you progress south it becomes a longer flight for him and the price competition swings in Alpine Adventures favor.
On a side note, One thing I would mention is that on some of our flights we were somewhat ignorant of the appropiate flows and that it is not the pilots job to know these things (although Dando has a good handle on them because of his close connection to the kayak community). We flew into the Perth, it was WAAAAY too high and we had a slight epic. We flew in with a new pilot who was actually a great pilot but he didn't know anything about kayaking so you've got know what you are getting into. Go to NZ if you can.
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Old 01-13-2006   #4
Join Date: Mar 2004
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we lost some gear out of that net thingy, too. lame. dando is the man. i would go back just for the lake mahinapua (sp?) pub when the kiwi experience bus rolls in.
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