Tower chopper flight too hairy for some

By Amelia Wade

Volvo race crews participate in a Sky Walk on the Sky Tower. Photo / Ian Roman
Volvo race crews participate in a Sky Walk on the Sky Tower. Photo / Ian Roman

A helicopter filming for the Volvo Ocean Race shocked onlookers by flying close to the Sky Tower - but within regulation, according to the Civil Aviation Authority.

Yesterday concerns were raised by those watching as the Helilink vehicle buzzed the Auckland landmark as it filmed two race crews who were carrying out a Sky Walk. One person said the the flight was scary to watch.

Another man, Tim Blower-Perry, who saw the action unfold from his office in Parnell, said the helicopter flew in and appeared to slowly circle the tower once for about a minute before moving off.

He said everyone in his office was shocked at how close it was and by using the height of the tower estimated the chopper came within 65m of it.

Volvo Ocean Race organisers said footage was misleading and the vehicle was never within 200m of the Sky Tower.

The CAA said even if the helicopter was closer than 200m to the tower, it would still be within regulation.

No formal complaints had been laid.

Spokeswoman Emma Peel said there were no restrictions on how close helicopters could fly to the Sky Tower as long as they had a "bona fide purpose" for the flight.

Volvo Ocean Race communications director Jon Bramley said the flight was one of a series of planned feature stories with Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development to promote the city.

"Helilink have confirmed that the operation was carried out safely and in accordance with CAA Rules and company procedures and at no time did the helicopter come within the allowed distance of the ground or any structure.

"This has been verified by both the pilot and crew involved in the operation."

Meanwhile, members of the race crew on the tower said they enjoyed the experience.

* Emirates Team NZ will open their base to the public from today. Visitors can meet the crew of Camper, and take a peek on board their VO70 yacht. Dean Barker and the America's Cup crew will be there too.

- additional reporting Nicholas Jones, APN

- NZ Herald

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