We are extremely proud of our 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 pilots hold a Commercial Helicopter Pilot License and are regularly subjected to stringent performance checks to meet New Zealand CAA Part 135 requirements. Glacier Southern Lakes Helicopters are also part of the Lakes District Air Rescue Trust which provides search and rescue and air ambulance services within the Southern region and all our pilots are qualified to fly for medivac callouts.
Meet the team
Pat West has been the owner/operator of Glacier Southern Lakes Helicopters in Queenstown since 2004. Prior to this Pat was stationed at Franz Joseph 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.
Stefan joined the Glacier Southern Lakes Helicopters team in 2009 but obtained both his fixed and rotary wing licenses by the age of 17. He has logged over 7000 hours, the majority of them flying in Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam as a Senior Pilot for Helicopters New Zealand on contract to the United States Military. Stefan is from a farming community based at Greenstone Station in Glenorchy, his flying background started here in the Wakatipu and Otago regions in the mid 1980’s and since then he has developed extensive flying experience in scenic flights, heliskiing, firefighting, medivacs and search & rescue. For heli-fishing and hunting in the Queenstown and Fiordland area no other pilot knows the area better or is more frequently requested.
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 is 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 and King Kong.
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 and Milford Sound so be sure to ask him to point out a few film locations along the way.
Brendan joined the Glacier Southern Lakes team in 2012 and comes to us with 19 years of New Zealand flying experience. Brendan began his career with agricultural flying in the Canterbury region, however after spending 12 years based throughout the Southern Lakes he knows the areas of Queenstown, Te Anau, Milford Sound and Mt Cook like the back of his hand. As well as scenic flying, Brendan has extensive experience in heli-skiing, winch and long-line work, night vision and more recently was involved with the on-location filming of The Hobbit.
Andy Clayton brings a wide range of flying experience to Glacier Southern Lakes Helicopters. The former fire fighter has spent 10 years flying helicopters in Wanaka so is highly familiar with flying within the Southern Lakes. 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.
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, Antartica), United States Military MIA Programme (Laos, Cambodia, Vietman) 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.