by Carol Sawyer
Mt Hutt Helicopters Ltd, Methven (CEO Josh Kershaw), one of the six main 1080-poisoning helicopter companies in the South Island for many years, is reportedly out of action, flight-wise. I’m told they no longer have an Air Operator’s Certificate (AOC) or Ag rating apparently, and are doing maintenance only. It is rumoured in the helicopter world that they were “struggling to get pilots.”
The last 1080 they dropped, as far as I know, was the Inangahua, Buller district, aerial 1080 drop in mid-2019.
I’m told they own an AS350 and a Notar. (Presumably they leased in other choppers for 1080 poison operations.)
I have also been told the Notar is in the process of being ‘parted out’ (dismantled and sold off in parts). I’m unsure about the AS350. Many of the parts will be embedded with 1080. Helicopter pilots tell me 1080 dust will be inside fins and the tail boom, and fine dust will be all through the working parts.
As well as this, Way to Go Heliservices Ltd, Rangiora, (CEO Rob Kittow), another major poison spreader, particularly this Spring, has been for sale for at least a year I’m told on Trademe and in aviation magazines. Maybe people don’t want to buy 1080-riddled helicopters?
The other four main South Island 1080-poisoning helicopter companies are Marlborough Helicopters Ltd, Blenheim ( CEO Owen Dodson), Anderson Helicopters Ltd, Hokitika ( CEO Kevin Anderson), Central South Island Helicopters, Oamaru (CEO Gary Oakes), and Helicopters Otago Ltd ( CEO Graeme Gale).
Beck Helicopters Ltd, Eltham Taranaki, (CEO Alan Beck) often come to the South Island to drop 1080 poison too.
Note: I report what I am told in good faith, when it is from people inside the industry whom I consider reliable, (in this case from two separate sources) and I endeavour to get my facts correct, but please bear in mind that some of this information is anecdotal.