Our Queenstown Helicopter Pilots
We are extremely proud of our helicopter pilots and only hire pilots with high flying hours, and extensive knowledge of the local mountain environment surrounding Queenstown, Milford Sound and Fiordland and Mt Aspiring National Parks.
All Helicopter Queenstown Ltd pilots hold a Commercial Helicopter Pilot License and are regularly subjected to stringent performance checks to meet New Zealand CAA Part 135 requirements.
Meet the team
|CEO / Pilot
||7,000hrs flying time|
Pat West is the General Manager Aviation at Helicopters Queenstown Ltd. Prior to this Pat was stationed at Franz Josef Glacier as head of operations for the West Coast division, also known at that time as Glacier Southern Lakes Helicopters. Pat is not only a pilot but a well-respected businessman who succeeds in a tough and highly competitive industry. Pat has also worked alongside the film industry providing state-of-the-art camera equipment, expert aerial coordination and aerial flying services.
||8,500hrs flying time|
Our chief pilot, Andy Clayton brings a wide range of flying experience to Helicopters Queenstown Ltd. The former fire fighter has spent 10 years flying helicopters in Wanaka so is highly familiar with flying within the Southern Lakes area. As well as scenic flying and commercial flying such as frost fighting, fire fighting and heliskiing, Andy has also been a pilot instructor and flight examiner. One of our most popular helicopter pilots, his local knowledge and delivery of scenic flight commentary for Queenstown, Milford Sound and Fiordland is frequently praised by guests.
|Pilot / Aerial Film Extraordinaire||15,000hrs flying time|
Another local, hailing from Te Anau, Alfie became a helicopter pilot in the mid-1980’s at the height of New Zealand’s live deer capture programme.
His diverse career has also taken him to Antarctica twice working with Italian and American scientific research teams. However, it’s aerial filming where Alfie truly excels as principal filming pilot for films such as The Hobbit & Lord of the Rings trilogies, Vertical Limit, Peter Pan, The Chronicles of Narnia, Wolverine, King Kong, Pete’s Dragon and many more!
Clearly regarded as the best in the business for aerial filming, in between shoots you might be lucky enough to get him as your scenic flight pilot around Queenstown, Middle Earth and Milford Sound so be sure to ask him to point out a few film locations along the way!
||11,000hrs flying time|
Jeff Rodger (aka Buck) started flying helicopters in 1988 in the Southern Lakes region. He has flown in New Zealand and extensively throughout the world in many different types of operations including mining and drilling support in the oil and gas industry (Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Antarctica), United States Military MIA Programme (Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam) and humanitarian aid in the Solomon Islands. Buck has also worked in the New Zealand film industry flying on movies Vertical Limit, Lord of The Rings, 10000 B.C and various commercials. While Buck spends much of his time flying overseas, when he is back home in Queenstown he always receives rave reviews from passengers who are fortunate enough to have him as their scenic helicopter pilot.
||7,500hrs flying time|
Chris grew up in Nelson, where at the age of 15, he learnt to fly gliders and fixed-wing aircraft. He has spent most of his flying career based in Queenstown, having started flying commercially in the area in 1999, aged 18. He has flown two seasons in Canada – one on gliders and one on helicopters, as well as two years flying over the Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers. Chris has flown more than 60 different aircraft types – ranging from multi-engine helicopters to gliders, float planes, microlights, bush planes and aerobatic aircraft. An experienced mountain pilot, he has flown extensively throughout the Southern Alps of New Zealand, as well as the Canadian Rockies. He also spent a season flying Heli-Skiers in the Himalayas.
||9,000hrs flying time|
Stu is a long time Queenstown local having lived here 30 years. He has been flying here most of that time in between various stints working overseas.
Stu started flying back in 1983 when he gained his fixed wing licence and flew aeroplanes both as an instructor and commercially for the next ten years around the Fiordland and Southern Alps region. Rather than gravitate to the airlines, Stu decided to continue flying around the area that he loves the most and retrained into helicopters in 1995.
He has spent the last 21 years continuing to fly helicopters in the Queenstown area as well as flying periodically on overseas contracts. He spent 3 tours flying for Helicopters NZ in Antarctica along with different tours in Burma, Cambodia and also England, Europe and the Mediterranean working off a Super Yacht. The last 5 years were spent flying in the remote mountains in Papua New Guinea within the gas and oil industry.
Stu is a passionate Kiwi and a typical Southern man – particularly interested in the outdoors -tramping, hunting, fly fishing, kayaking, and diving. Having also worked on the Lord of the Rings, Stu also gained an interest in, and took up medieval sword fighting! He competes regularly in NZ wide competitions.
Stu has finally settled full time back in Queenstown and is looking forward to showing our guests what he describes as “the most stunning scenery in the world.”
||3,500hrs flying time|
Luke grew up on a sheep farm in Southland & started flying helicopters in 2009. Luke previously worked as a jet boat driver in the Mt Aspiring National Park area.
Luke began his pilot career here in New Zealand and then spent five seasons in the Australian Outback working in areas such as mustering and survey work.
After flying in the outback, Luke returned to New Zealand & as an agricultural helicopter pilot on high country farming stations before moving to Queenstown.
Luke is very familiar with the Southern Lakes area having provided many scenic flights for visitors around Aoraki, Fox Glacier, Franz Josef Glacier, Fiordland and Mt Aspiring National Park.
In his spare time, Luke enjoys hunting, white-baiting, diving and generally just getting outdoors!