Have you ever flown in a helicopter before? If you have, you already know the intoxicating sense of lifting straight into the air. If you haven’t, let Alpine Helicopters give you that experience.
Just walking through the Alpine Helicopters hangar was worth the trip out of the office for me. I am a confirmed nut for aircraft, and seeing the immaculately maintained helicopters having their maintenance and inspections done was strangely aesthetically pleasing. The entire shop was clean and the personnel performed their tasks deliberately and carefully; Summer equipment for fighting forest fires was removed and baskets for ski gear were being mounted to the sides. The aluminum airframes gleamed red and white – the company’s colours – and the internal structures showing beneath removed panels were anti-corrosion green. Most of the craft were Bell 212s initially developed for the Canadian Forces, a large twin-engine version of the famous Huey used in Vietnam. However, I was not there to ogle these whirlybirds in their nests and moved on.
A door at the far end of the hanger opened into another, smaller bay painted the same white and red and grey as the aircraft. A complete tail boom and rotor hung from a wall, the blades spinning lazily. This sightseeing tour base was, in a word, slick. I fell into conversation with one of the tour organizers, a helicopter pilot in his own right, about the heli tourism industry. Alpine’s main tourism charter business is out of Canmore and Banff where the Rockies draw thousands of aerial sightseers, but the Okanagan’s unique offerings are making heli tours here a truly unique opportunity. Some of the premier experiences, all taken care of by Alpine, are breathtaking. For example, you could try some yoga on a tall mountain peak overlooking Okanagan Lake, with some complimentary wine and cheese. If you are hoping for more of the wine and less peaceful posing, perhaps you would prefer a flight to an award-winning local winery for a tasting and three-course wine-paired lunch. Food with a more exotic vista can also be arranged. You can bring your own fare for a picnic or have your mountaintop meal catered by a prominent local restaurant. For even more exciting aerial adventures, check out their packages at http://www.alpinehelicopter.com/.
Of course, not all tours are this extensive. A sightseeing flight of 12 minutes over the lake is the preferred option for many first time fliers and younger children. At only $124 per person, it is easily within reach of people who might not have considered a heli tour before! The staff at Alpine are happy to help you take flight, so check them out online or call 250-769-2475. They are conveniently located on Highway 97 here in West Kelowna.