Meet the Chief Pilot and Operations Manager for the Award-Winning Helicopter Tourism Company Vanuatu Helicopters – Andy Martin
By Ciaran Warner
Whether hurtling through the skies of Vanuatu, dangling above red-hot lava bubbling within a volcano, or working tirelessly to deliver food and aid to a nation devastated by the forces of nature, there’s never a dull moment in the life of Andy Martin, Ground and Flight Operations Manager for the award-winning aviation and tourism company Vanuatu Helicopters.
Responsible for the day-to-day operations of the only helicopter company in the thriving tourist destination of Vanuatu, Andy has been flying for Vanuatu Helicopters for over eight years, and describes the job as an opportunity for a new adventure every day.
“I’ve been working here since 2010, and seen just about every corner of Vanuatu. It’s a great place to work, the people are really nice, and the culture is completely different from one island to the next,” Andy says.
“It’s a great group of people to work with, and the fishing here is great, too!”
The years spent flying visitors to Vanuatu have provided Andy with no shortage of opportunity for adventure, particularly the heart-stopping minute he spent hanging from a Zipline above the roiling lava of a volcano, as can be seen below.
Vanuatu Helicopters, and particularly Andy himself, were instrumental in assisting the people of Vanuatu after Cyclone Pam, the second-most devastating tropical cyclone in the history of the South Pacific, ravaged Vanuatu in 2015.
“I went into work the very next day and we worked pretty solidly with the local government for two months. There were a lot of medical evacuations, food and water distribution, and so on. It was a huge clean-up operation.”
He was also part of the assessment team sent to the Torres Islands after the particularly devastating Cyclone Donna last May. Witnessing shattered buildings, lost crops and a severe water shortage, the team were nonetheless able to provide food, water and even seeds to the locals to help regrow crops and begin their lives anew.
“The Torres Islands are a long way from anywhere, so logistically it was very hard to tidy up, but we did everything we could.”
Beginning his career as a hiking and camping trip guide in Alaska, the Canadian Yukon and the Franz Josef Glacier, Andy began taking to the skies for a living after joining up with New Zealand-based aviation company HELiPRO, working formerly as a Flight Instructor and later as a Base Manager.
After being offered a 12-month contract at Vanuatu Helicopters, he took the opportunity to work overseas and allow other visitors to Vanuatu to witness the beauty of the island nation from the sky.
“As the chief pilot, I do a bit of everything. We’re the only helicopter company in Vanuatu so we cater for everyone who needs our services. We do a lot of tourism flights, which everyone knows us for, but also a lot of behind-the-scenes commercial work, mostly with telcom companies in the outer islands,” says Andy.
So if you’ve ever wanted to hover over an active volcano, see turtles and dugongs playing in the ocean, or simply get a good look at the breath-taking beauty of Vanuatu from the best possible vantage point, Andy Martin at Vanuatu Helicopters is your man.
About Vanuatu Helicopters:
Winner of the Westpac Vanuatu Tourism Award, Vanuatu Helicopters are located are located at the sea wall in central Port Vila, and are the perfect way for travellers to Vanuatu to get a bird’s-eye view of the lush tropical jungles, glowing azure waters and amazing coral reefs that the island paradise of Vanuatu has to offer!
To find out more about Vanuatu Helicopters, visit them here!
Contact Vanuatu Helicopters:
Address: Located near the Nambawan Café, on the seawall at the Craft Markets.
Phone: + 678 25022
Phone: 0274 587 724