Wednesday, June 21, 2023

Planes, Trains, Automobiles and Helicopters

Our "chariot" arrives!

We flew out here to the west coast on Air Canada, we plan to come back east on a VIA Rail train, we were chauffeured around by family and friends while here; all means of transportation we have experienced previously, but to get from Vancouver Island over to Vancouver city, we got a chance to experience a new form of transport, Helicopter. 

This trip out to the West coast was planed originally for spring of 2020, and we all know what happened to travel plans then. We were going out to visit my sister and then take an Alaskan cruise, and she suggested we take a helicopter from the Island over to Vancouver City, as the helicopter terminal is right beside the cruise terminal. Regis was not too sure about this as she is a bit of a nervous flyer, but I thought it was a great idea. 

Tight quarters

The cruise got cancelled but this year we decided to still go visit the west coast sister for a couple of weeks, but we would instead take VIA Rail’s Canadian back east. My sister again suggested the helicopter as an option to get us to Vancouver and after a couple of friends assured Regis that it would not be TOO bad she agreed and booked us two seats on the Helijet to Vancouver. 

So on a Tuesday morning we arrived at the Helijet terminal in Nanaimo and checked in for the helicopter flight across the strait. We watched the shiny blue & white helicopter come in across the water and very gently touch down on the Helipad. Our luggage was all taken to be stowed away because there is no “Carry-on” at all due to the size of the helicopter and 10 other people were booked to go with us leaving no extra room. Even my cane had to be stowed away in luggage.

No backing out now . . . .

Now a helicopter is no commercial aircraft. The pilot and co-pilot are right there sitting in clear view, and you are belted in not with a seat belt but a three point harness. There was a pocket on the back of the seat in front of me containing safety information of the Sikorsky helicopter, but there was no entertainment system or fold down tray for food and drinks. In fact there were not even armrests between the seats. If you thought Economy seats on Air Canada were cramped, welcome to Helijet. 

Everyone belted in and the short safety chat completed, all doors were securely closed and

Flying into Vancouver

the engine started and slowly built up speed and sound - they do suggest and provide free hearing protection. The actual take-off is really very undramatic; rather than the sudden thrust forward as a jet tries to build up enough speed to overcome gravity, the helicopter very gently lifts off the ground and once in the air, slowly shifts from upward lift to forward propulsion. The actual flight is quite smooth. The helicopter vibrates and shakes slightly, due to the massive engine and propellor being right over your head, but the flight itself is smooth with no turbulence. At the end of our 20 minute flight, the helicopter slowed, turned and gently set us down on a helipad in Vancouver harbour. 

In my opinion, it was a pleasant but different way to travel, but you might want to ask Regis her opinion. I purposely did not tell her about the helicopter crash in Ottawa the day before. 

Landed safely in Vancouver


  1. I can't believe they fit 12 passengers on one helicopter!! That's amazing! Very cool. I'd love to fly in a helicopter some day.

  2. When I heard of the helicopter crash that morning, there was no WAY I was going to mention it to Regis! She said she even took pictures, so obviously wasn't gripping your and the next passenger's arms at the same time. Glad you enjoyed it!