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By trade, I am a fitter/turner and machinist completing my 8000 hours in a pulp and paper mill where I ended up as maintenance fitter for the dairy giant Fonterra for 14 years. In 1996 at the age of 36, I had finished my career of competitive Kart racing. By 1997, I was in need of something to do with my brain and hands where I could become fully engaged. Because of my passion for aviation, I decided that helicopters would fit all of these needs.
Looking around at all the options with helicopters, I decided on the 2 seater Baby Belle. In late 1997, I ordered the plans and began ordering the necessary parts to begin construction. In early 1998, the steel and tubing was delivered and I began to build my very own Baby Belle.
As I was beginning to build my helicopter, my friend Stew Hamilton decided to also build a Baby Belle. Stew utilized my knowledge of welding and sheet metal work and began building his helicopter alongside mine. Both helicopters were fitted with a Lycoming O-320 engine. Stew’s included an R22 cab and electronic ignition while mine was stock with high compression pistons. Mine first flew in 2000 and Stew’s was ready in early 2001.
Once complete my Baby Belle helicopter became widely known. Being the first Baby Belle in New Zealand, word spread fast about this great machine. Other builders began requesting frames, modified exhausts, modified R22 governors, bubble doors and titanium tail rotor blades to use on their Baby Belle helicopter. Because of all the orders, it took me awhile to get my pilots license, but in 2008 I completed the courses and obtained my PPLH. In addition to all of the hours I have flown in my Baby Belle, I also have experience in various commercial helicopters of different sizes.
In 2002 I became a dealer for Canadian Home Rotors and opened South Pacific Home Rotors at my home in Tokoroa. This allowed me to begin supplying parts as well as builder assistance to customers in New Zealand and later to Australia in 2005.
In 2011, I relocated my family and business to TeAwamutu. This move to a former helicopter base 15 minutes from Hamilton International Airport gave Pacific Home Rotors room to grow. We now have better access to facilities and vendors for supplies and products.
Now a dealer under CHR International, Inc., Pacific Home Rotors has continued to thrive. With approximately 24 Safaris in various stages of building and flying throughout New Zealand and Australia, the Safari is proving itself every day.
I find the Safari an excellent aircraft for our rugged environment in New Zealand and very adaptable to the hot Australian climate. The use of the Lycoming O-360 engine, titanium tail rotor blades and the new Safari 400 main rotor head has enabled the helicopter to be flown in all areas of New Zealand and Australia. The Safari has become a hard helicopter