Riverina Helicopters to give birds eye view of field days site
After more than 20 years of giving visitors a bird’s eye view of Henty, Wagga Air Centre has handed over the joy flights to Riverina Helicopters, of Griffith.
With district canola crops around the field day site expected to be in full flower, the sight from the air is bound to be breathtaking.
Henty farmers wanting an aerial photograph of their farm can pre-book a flight with Riverina Helicopters at this year’s field days.
Managing director Bryce Nietvelt said the 10-minute flights in a Robinson R44 helicopter ($90 per person, minimum two passengers, maximum of three), piloted by Jaimie Cook, would operate on a walk-up basis.
Operating bases at Griffith and Crookwell, Riverina Helicopters specialise in aerial spraying, fertiliser application, aerial surveying, crop pollination, powerline inspections, mustering, feral animal control, aerial crane, orchard stringing, aerial filming/photography, winery tours and charter work.
The Griffith business has three Robinson R44 helicopters, able to carry three passengers and equipped with Spidertracks, a real time satellite tracking providing the location of the helicopters at all times. A Bell 206 Jet Ranger is based at Crookwell for the aerial spraying in hill country.
Riverina Helicopters has been operating for over 25 years and was bought by Mr Nietvelt two years ago after a career in the Australian Airforce as an engineer followed by five years flying helicopters in the Northern Territory’s Arnhem Land on aerial mustering, firefighting and pest animal culling programs.
Riverina Helicopters services the Riverina, NSW central and southern tablelands, far western and central western NSW and northern Victoria. The business employs four full-time staff plus contractors.
The helicopters are particularly visible around Henty and Mangoplah during August and September spraying the canola and cereal crops.
“Spraying is our core business along with spreading fertiliser, snail bait, and mouse bait,” Mr Nietvelt said.
Pilots work with irrigated and broadacre crops including rice, cotton, wheat, barley, canola, grapes, almonds, walnuts, carrots, onions, sorghum, corn and pasture, delivering a precise application of chemical with rotor downwash that disturbs the crop canopy allowing deep penetration of droplets for a uniform coverage.
The helicopter’s manoeuvrability ensures proven success in weed control on channels, contour banks and spot spraying.
In rugged, hilly country unsuitable for fixed wing aircraft, the helicopter is ideal for spraying serrated tussock, blackberries, St Johns Wort, and thistles. Onsite loading from the purpose equipped mixing vehicles ensures a quick turnaround.
The spray systems are capable of application rates of 5L/ha-100L/ha, swath widths of 3-20m, and GPS marking systems ensure accurate and efficient chemical application.
Pilots use a 300kg capacity bucket slung under the helicopter with a 6m line for mice baiting winter cereal crops, snail control in rice, re-sowing of duck holes in rice, fertiliser application and sowing pasture.
“With the crop pollination of sorghum and corn in late summer, the helicopter flies slowly over the rows blowing the pollen from the male to the female plants to encourage fertilisation,” Mr Nietvelt said.
No wind during flowering to spread the pollen will result in a poor yield for the grower.
During the 2022 floods, Riverina Helicopters helped move stock caught by floodwaters in the Riverina and Far West.
When it comes to charter work, the business caters for Griffith winery tours, weddings, VIP transfers, property surveys, flood inspections, wildlife surveys and pipleline inspections.
Joy flights are also operated at the Riverina Field Days and Hillston Off-Road Racing Championships.
Mr Nietvelt is excited to be continuing the joy flights at the Henty Machinery Field Days after spending the last few years getting familiar with the field day site from the air while spraying local crops.
“It is a great way to engage with potential new clients who may not know about our services,” he said.