Green Isle Air Heli Tours is run out of the port of Charlottetown. They offer helicopter tour packages running from 15 minutes to one hour, and can customize the experience for special occasions such as weddings, anniversaries, and birthdays. They fly from May to the end of October, and this past summer was their second year in operation on PEI.
Three people work for the company on PEI: Holly Andrews takes care of internet promotion, bookings, safety briefings, loading, and unloading. Carmen Kelly is the pilot, and Hugh Andrews is the Owner and does the maintenance. They operate one helicopter on PEI and four more on Vancouver Island, where Hugh has operated a helicopter maintenance business for 22 years.
“When Holly was going to school in Halifax, we fell in love with PEI,” says Hugh. “We purchased a property in Desable, and last year we brought a helicopter to PEI and started the tour business. I go back to Vancouver Island in November, and I will come back to PEI in May. Eventually, I plan to retire on PEI.
“I am a pilot and a maintenance engineer, but I am not flying this year – I leave it up to Carmen. If we grow the business, we may need more ground crew and people to help with loading and unloading. Our goal is to get Holly flying. She has a commercial helicopter pilot’s license, and maybe down the road she can do some flying too.”
Carmen Kelly is the pilot. He has 21 years of experience flying helicopters out west, in Ontario, and in the Arctic, fighting forest fires and doing diamond and gold exploration, surveying, and mineral staking.
Carmen moved back home to Kinkora about 18 months ago. “I moved back east because I wanted to return to where I grew up. I figured if I was going to continue flying, I would have to go back out west and continue to commute back and forth, and I didn’t want to do that anymore.
“In the helicopter business in Canada, most of the work is done in the summer. Working from April until November means you don’t get to go home during that time very often. I was missing out on life at home.
“A year ago, I walked up to Green Isle at the port of Charlottetown, and introduced myself. Hugh, Holly, and his wife Wendy stayed in contact with me during the winter. I visited their home on Vancouver Island in March and had an official face-to-face interview. I started working for them in late May.
“It seems almost too perfect. I have one of the few helicopter jobs where I actually get to sleep in my own bed at night! I feel very lucky, because with my other flying jobs I was travelling a lot going from camp to camp.
“I have worked at a lot of places, but I don’t think I have worked for folks who are finer in my life. I am very fortunate for sure.”