If you’re coming to Cherry Creek Estate to take in the spectacular mountain views, you may as well get an even closer look at those majestic peaks by booking a Rocky Mountain helicopter tour during your stay. Our wedding couples have been taking advantage of heli-photo tours from Eclipse Helicpoters departing right from our estate for years, but now our guests of all kinds can book them too as part of their wedding or retreat stay at Cherry Creek.
I recently had the opportunity to interview the managers at Eclipse Helicopters, Cindi and Duncan McNabb. Immediately upon entering their office, I was treated like family. I caught a glimpse of how their clients must be treated in the company’s warm, loving atmosphere. Cindi and Duncan greeted me graciously, welcoming me into their office and immediately offering me tea. They run the Eclipse Helicopter Cranbrook and area branch, and their hospitality is second to none.
Cindi and I sat outside their hanger and took in the marvellous view of Fisher Peak and the mountain range, while Duncan got ready for a flight. As the Office Manager for the past four years, Cindi communicates with clients, while Duncan is the Base Manager and one of the pilots of their helicopter fleet. The couple moved to Cranbrook from Kelowna in 2015.
Duncan has been flying helicopters for 44 years. He was inspired as a teenager when he witnessed a friend land a helicopter onto a beach before heading off into the sunset. Hr immediately wanted to fly helicopters as well. He got his fixed wing license at 17 and has been flying helicopters and planes ever since.
Between anecdotes and advice, Cindi explained how they run their business and how their attention to detail and passion for flying shapes everything they do.
CC: How did Eclipse begin working with Cherry Creek Estate?
EH: Our involvement with Cherry Creek began during the 2016 season when we learned of the exquisite estate. As we have an insatiable passion for creativity and progress, we secured a visit with the Events Coordinator along with another Kimberley business entrepreneur to discuss an idea regarding a business venture with Cherry Creek. From the initial meeting, a completely different idea was birthed and developed into what today is one of our most popular wedding packages.
CC: How early on do wedding couples typically book for a photo helicopter tour?
EH: Typically, couples reach out to us a year in advance. Once they have secured a weekend for their magical memory at Cherry Creek Estate, the long journey of planning begins with a variety of options available. The thought of including a helicopter for such an endearing weekend compliments what Cherry Creek is already offering. We have also been able to accommodate couples within a few weeks of their special day as availability allows.
CC: How many guests can you accommodate on a helicopter tour?
CC: How long is the helicopter tour?
EH: We suggest allowing for an hour and a half to incorporate the safety talk, flight, landing and photos. There is always the option for a little wiggle room to accommodate the bride and groom’s desires!
CC: Where do your photo tours take people?
EH: There are a variety of “special” locations for an exquisite photo shoot including one of our favourite mountain meadows not too far from Fisher Peak. Our experienced pilots have an incredible knack of finding just the perfect location, filled with magic and a photographer’s dream.
Sometimes weather will dictate a landing location, but the Rockies never disappoint!
CC: What is the cost for a helicopter tour?
EH: There are a variety of tours to choose from, hence a variety of prices, but our most popular wedding package is the Alpine Visit. This event allows for up to five passengers to enjoy a flight through the majestic Rocky Mountains, landing on a mountain ridge for up to an hour to enjoy the exquisite beauty on top of the world and some pretty spectacular photo opportunities! We offer Cherry Creek guests a preferred rate with payment due in full on the day of the event as our flights are weather permitting and subject to emergency service requests (ie. wildfires).
CC: Do you have any other packages available for wedding or retreat guests?
EH: There are a number of tour experiences available including: Fisher Peak Adventure, The Alpine Visit, Picnic at the Peak, Mimosa’s on the Mountain, and Valley and Views to name a few. We are happy to customize a tour to suit your needs!
We are currently in discussion with Cherry Creek Estate about winter heli-skiing packages to be unveiled soon! We have some other packages in the works that we can’t talk about right now but that we are excited about, so stay tuned.
CC: What safety precautions do you take?
EH: Safety is our number one priority. Appointed personnel at the estate take the necessary precautions to ensure a clear and safe landing location (the lawn in front of the Buggy Barn), instructing guests to never approach the helicopter while the blades are turning. Prior to flight, all passengers involved with the event participate in a ten minute safety briefing with the pilot. An Eclipse Host remains on site during the flight to help coordinate the landing upon their return, once again ensuring a clear and safe landing area.
If a pending flight is subject to inclement weather we are flexible and happy to adjust the time to find the perfect window of opportunity. Communication is of the utmost importance and we offer regular “weather updates” throughout the scheduled day. To date, there has been a handful of adjustments and due to the wonderful couples with events at Cherry Creek they have graciously been flexible as well.
CC: What other services do you provide for the community?
EH: Our team also provides safe and efficient services for a variety of helicopter needs such as: wildfire suppression; mountain flying; precision flying; search and rescue; emergency service requests; heli-skiing to name few.
We are passionate about the community and this summer marks our fifth year in the valley. The past few summers have seen an increase in wildfire activity with a very active aerial campaign each season to combat the burns. It has been a privilege to work with BC Forestry during these stressful times for community members and our primary entity has been working with Initial Attack Crews as well as “water bucketing”. The IA crews base at our hangar and when a “smoke” is detected, the team of 3 crew members, pilot and helicopter are airborne within 5 minutes. It can be quite an adrenaline rush!
But flying couples on their wedding day, an engagement, birthday, anniversary or surprise event melts my heart every time. We love it!! It’s magical.
CC: Can you share any fun stories from your flights?
EH: There are numerous stories to share, it’s difficult to choose one. Every Cherry Creek wedding package event is different with this season offering some amazing stories! Snow in June! A bride in bare feet on the mountain ridge. Bridal veil taking flight. Stay tuned to Cherry Creek and Eclipse’s social media platforms to catch some incredible photos!
One story will forever stay etched in my mind. It was a surprise engagement, at the top of a mountain, Lakit Mt. to be exact. It was our first proposal flight and the young man, living in Calgary, contacted me months in advance. At the beginning, correspondence was primarily via email which quickly elevated to phone calls organizing and planning details to the precise moment. Creative ideas and thoughts were shared and an incredible plan was devised. With a son and 2 daughters of the same age, I felt like I was preparing an event for a family member! It was an exhilarating task!
A September proposal was planned, but anxiety and excitement quickly moved the date a month ahead into August, at the height of wildfire season. A busy summer season and many weekends of traveling left the fiancé to be less than enthused to travel out of town one more time. With family in Cranbrook, mother-in-law to be was enlisted to encourage her daughter to come for a visit. As wildfires abounded, the window of flight was narrowing with the only option being an 9:00 a.m. proposal at 8,000 ft.
The fact they were both avid hikers helped to convince our bride to be to do a sunrise hike. Arriving at the peak at 8:30 presented the longest, heart pounding thirty minute wait for our young man, but at precisely 9am Eclipse Helicopters circled the peak with photographer on board to capture the “down on one knee” proposal.
We landed and collected the couple, then whisked them away to a magical location for additional photos. Special is an understatement as a tear filled my eye.
Getting to know Cindi and Duncan and to learn more about Eclipse Helicopters was great, and we are thrilled that they will be involved with a number of weddings at Cherry Creek this summer. It isn’t too late to book their services if you have a wedding coming up or would like to add on a heli-tour to your summer retreat at Cherry Creek! Contact us directly to book with Eclipse Helicopter, or visit this page for more information on our 2-night Helicopter Retreat Package. Visit Eclipse Helicopter’s website here for more information on their services.