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new facility. I was told by many within the com-
pany that every detail of its design and construc-
tion were “Mr. Halvorson’s baby.”
Looking through the lens of a helicopter pilot
who grew up in institutional offices attached to
ratty hangars and paper thin walled EMS mobile
homes, I viewed the new facility like a young kid
seeing Disney’s Magic Kingdom for the first time.
The building was truly built around every facet of
how a helicopter tour operator does business and
was first class in every sense. I would like to take
you on a short tour and highlight the new face of
Papillon Grand Canyon Helicopters.
Boulder City Airport is an uncontrolled field
from the standpoint of airspace and Air Traffic
Control. However, since there are so many heli-
copter operations (1500 passengers per week, uti-
lizing 17 light turbine helicopters) in and out of
the airport, Papillon has not only built, but staffed
New Passenger Terminal
its own control tower. This state of the art fea-
ture improves safety by controlling traffic flow
as well as to provide flight following for all com-
pany aircraft.
Because Papillon handles clients from all over
the world, it has a call center that operates
24/7/365. Before and after the helicopter tour ex-
perience, Papillon clients are treated to a first class
food and gift shop.
When Papillon was able to move its manage-
ment into the second floor offices and the excess
into the basement storage of the new facility, it
opened up the maintenance hangar for more effi-
cient operations.
Two very unique features of the facility can be
seen below. High above the passenger waiting area
is a very large fan which uses main rotors for fan
blades. This contraption is fondly referred to as
the “BAF.” The acronym is born out of the com-
New Gift Shop pany’s name who built the fan….the “Big Ass
Fan” Company. All passengers who check in are
required to state their weight for use in the load
manifest as well as the weight and balance. Now,
I am not saying that people would lie about their
weight, but oddly enough, short term memory loss
is a common medical condition when people are
asked what they weigh. When passengers step up
to the counter, they are politely asked to step on
the little footprints, which are actually scales built
into the floor.
It is not very often that a helicopter operator
gets to build its own facility, let alone design one
from the ground up which totally fits every need of
their business. I am sure the Papillon team is just
as impressed as I was with the new facility. One
thing for sure, this new addition to the Papillon
operation indicates that this is a helicopter com-
pany that is in it for the long haul. As if 45 years
were not enough!
New “BAF” • July 2009 27
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