Flying is a family business for Alex Wenezenki, the pilot for a new helicopter tour and charter service operating from the Hyde Mountain Golf course in Sicamous.
Wenezenki, who is on his first summer behind the stick of a chopper for BC Helicopters, grew up around hangers as his parents were both commercial pilots. His dad flew private planes for oil company executives and his mom did medevac flights. Although both his parents made their careers at the controls of fixed-wing aircraft, Wenezenki said he was drawn to helicopters from a young age.
The chopper Wenezenki uses to fly charters and tours out of Sicamous is a Robinson R44 Raven II which seats three people plus the pilot. Wenezenki takes passengers from the dirt landing pad near the clubhouse at Hyde Mountain up for a look at a waterfall on Owlhead Mountain and then north to Seymour Arm and over the Shark Shack and back to Sicamous on a 45-minute tour.
He also does longer charters including flights between Vancouver and Calgary.
Business has been good this summer, and Wenezenki and his partner are looking to expand the fleet with a second chopper. At the top of Wenezenki’s wish list is an AStar AS350, which he described as a god of the helicopter world. The AStar is larger and more powerful than Wenezenki’s current bird. He said the new machine would be capable of long-lining and he hopes to be open in the winter months, able to recover snowmobile from nearby mountains or even assist search and rescue teams.
“We want to get set up so if a sledder gets injured we’re the the ones who are right here.”
Helping Wenezenki is his childhood friend Braydon Pease, who cleans and refuels the helicopter and helps passengers board and disembark safely. Pease also tries to look after the helicopter’s most important system – Wenezenki himself – making sure he has enough to eat and drink before setting off for flights.
“I’ve got to fuel the chopper and the pilot,” he said with a laugh.
Wenezenski said he plans to be flying out of Sicamous for the foreseeable future and hopes plenty of people get a chance to experience a flight. He said many of his first time passengers are nervous but quickly get caught up in the weightless sensation created by the hovering helicopter.
“I fly it every day and it almost makes me speechless trying to describe how incredible flying this is.”