Helicoptering to Redonda

I’ve decided to break up the Redonda posts thematically. There’s a bit of a beginning, middle, and end to the trip, but the experience day-by-day makes less sense than talking about big things that we were working on in Redonda that often spanned several days. First up, getting to Redonda!

Helicopter

As I’d mentioned previously, the best way to get to Redonda, and really the only way to get quite a lot of gear to Redonda, is via helicopter. And we had a lot of gear.

IMG_9855edit

Photo: Geoffrey Giller

This was my first helicopter ride and I was so excited. Caribbean Helicopters did the flying and they were terrific. After a safety briefing and some very stylish waist belt life jackets, we were waiting on the veranda for our ride! The anticipation was tremendous, particularly watching the group before us head out for a tour to see Montserrat and come back wide-eyed with huge smiles on their faces.

Finally, it was our turn. Lifting off straight up from a standstill was such a surprising and awesome feeling. Our pilot was really fun and did a great job showing us around. For some reason he wouldn’t let me push any buttons up front or help with the foot pedals though…

Here’s one of our first views as we left the ground. This is beautiful sunny Antigua. Antigua from the air

It was a short ride to Redonda – about 20 minutes – so it wasn’t long after we left the Antiguan coast behind us that we got our first good look at our destination. While Geoff and I had managed to get a glimpse from the airplane on our flight in, seeing the massive cliffs rising out of the ocean, getting ever larger, really set the stage for our next week.

Redonda from the air 2

This is the “pleasant” side for hiking on Redonda.

Here’s the other side, somewhat less pleasant for walking around. Those steep cliffs dropped over 1000 feet down to the ocean.

Redonda from the air

By far one of my favorite parts of the ride, and probably the best thing about helicoptering, was being able to look straight down through the glass bubble in the nose and watch the ground go by beneath your feet. Here’s a view of the approach to the helipad on Redonda (see that grassy area with slightly fewer rocks – yeah, that’s the helipad).

Helicopter inside

The landing was perfect and we all scurried out to unload the helicopter pronto so the pilot could get back to Antigua.

Taking off

Our ride home was every bit as exciting. Here’s a selfie from the back seat with Anthony.

Anthony and Colin

Next up, what happened to get us from clean and neat in picture two to so outrageously scruffy looking by the trip home.

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