Legal Helicopter Operation Under Fire

A helicopter pilot says he’s being harassed by his neighbours for his by-the-book use of a Robinson R-44 on his property on idyllic North Pender Island, between the B.C. mainland and Vancouver Island. Dan Quinn, who operated Whistler Air for 30 years, says he flies to the island property about once a week and the noise lasts about 90 seconds for each leg of his visit. “The guy’s (one of the complainant’s) chainsaw makes more noise in one afternoon than I do in the whole year,” Quinn told the Victoria Times Colonist.

Soon after his first flight, signs popped up on the island calling for a ban on helicopter operations but the neighbours didn’t do their homework. Only Transport Canada can stop Quinn from flying to his property and it doesn’t see a problem. Former Green Party Leader Elizabeth May is the MP for the area and wrote Transport Minister Omar Alghabra. The minister responded by saying “in reviewing this location, there are no issues from an aviation safety perspective.” 

Civic politicians are now busily drafting bylaws banning  recreational helicopters but the federal position will determine the result. Meanwhile Quinn said the endless parade of powerless local enforcement officials investigating his utterly legal helipad amounts to harassment. “They all agree that there’s no issues here, but they have to act because they have these complaints. So it’s really harassment now,” he told the Times Colonist.