We sat down with Forest Helicopters to talk about their operations, what they look for in a helicopter and why the H125 is their preferred platform to execute their wide-ranging missions.
What’s your name?
Bart Stevenson, President and Founder of Forest Helicopters and a pilot with more than 20,000 flight hours.
Tell us about Forest Helicopters.
I started Forest in 1997 with just one helicopter. My wife, Linda, and I built a hangar on our property in Kenora. Forest has now grown to more than a dozen employees and four bases. We’re breaking ground this summer on a new 11,000-square-foot hangar on our property.
And your fleet?
Forest operates an entirely Airbus fleet, which includes two H125s and five additional aircraft in the same family as the H125.
First, we look for the latest safety features. That’s important to our customers, and it’s important to us. We also look for power, reliability and performance. We carry a lot of external loads, and we need a helicopter that can help us meet those demands.
What sets Forest Helicopters apart in this industry?
We are a relatively small company, and we have built a reputation for our quality of service, competitive prices and safety. When we send a helicopter to do a job, we make sure that it’s done well.
You recently took delivery of your 2nd H125, and you also fly the previous model of this aircraft. How does this family of aircraft meet your needs?
The H125 family has always delivered the highest performance within the intermediate class of helicopters.
It’s one of the safest single-engine helicopters on the market, thanks to features like dual hydraulics and a crash-resistant fuel system. Investing in the H125 reinforces to our customers that we take safety seriously.
Many of our missions — like aerial construction and utility work — require us to carry large external loads, such as beams, transformers, poles, concrete and lumber.
Our H125s come equipped with cargo pods, a cargo hook and an onboard external load weighing system. High-visibility doors and an enlarged floor window provide our crew with excellent visibility. Various features like the glass-panel cockpit displays reduce the pilot’s workload, which is especially helpful in external load operations.
It’s just an all-around excellent machine.
What role does Forest Helicopters play in mining and exploration?
Forest has worked in mining and exploration for more than 20 years. A significant part of exploration work involves moving diamond drills, which are used in the search for valuable minerals. Diamond drills are quite heavy, and the helicopter and pilot must be able to accurately move and place these components. The performance and inherent stability of the H125 family supports this mission.
Our expertise has led to the discovery of some valued mineral deposits in the most inaccessible regions of Canada.
What do you enjoy about your work?
I’ve been flying for more than 45 years, and after all these years, I still think what helicopters can do is pretty cool. This business gets in your blood. It’s a bit of an addiction.