The blades of Vertex Aviation Group’s Schweizer, Bell, and Robinson helicopters slice the sky as their team of pilots carries passengers to and fro throughout the South. The pilots provide a wealth of services via their aerial vantage point, from surveying land and power lines to eradicating agricultural pests. Meanwhile, the company’s FAA-certified trainers teach budding pilots to helm helicopters through ground instruction and hands-on flights, a curriculum more effective than the original helicopter training, running around in a propeller hat.
From its home nest at Sugar Land Regional Airport, National Helicopter Solutions facilitates tours, rides, and other aerial fun aboard its black Robinson R-44 Raven II helicopter. Tours of nearby attractions are some of the chopper's more popular jaunts: the Sugar Land Express route swoops past the towers and plazas of downtown Houston, while the Ball Park route flies by Constellation Field and Minute Maid Park. The copter also makes appearances at a wide variety of nearby fairs, rodeos, and festivals and can be commissioned for aerial photography or private flights.
Zooming at over 80 knots just 100 feet above the ground, the helicopter creates a gyrating shadow that skims rapidly over the Texas brush. Tethered safely inside the chopper but leaning out the wide-open cabin doors are several HeliBacon clients, each wielding a loaded AR-15 rifle and scanning the ground for signs of movement. Just as the shadow passes over a patch of tall grass, a group of wild hogs emerges and splinters in every direction. Rising in unison, the AR-15s level and lock onto the sprinting animals and fell several, effectively paring down the numbers of this invasive and destructive species.
The sport of hog-hunting has gone airborne not because pigs have learned to fly but because farmers need as much help as possible controlling the wild-hog population, which ruins acres of crops. Rather than air-dropping cease-and-desist letters, HeliBacon hands the duty over to civilians looking for a memorable hunting experience. The hunt begins with a safety course that covers shooting fundamentals and safety precautions. Once the helicopter lifts off, it cruises for two hours or more while hunters nab as many hogs as they can.
HeliBacon also offers a number of other aerial services, from providing tours of local cities to photographing businesses or real estate from the air. The company further assists local farmers in crop pollination, land surveys, and cattle herding.