Your hosts, Peter (Goose) and Sandra Kies together with their 2 daughters Bridgette and Billie-Jo, are fifth and sixth generation Australians living on The Kies’ original family property ‘Hoffnungsthal’ (meaning Valley of Hope). Situated on the southern end of the world-renowned Barossa Valley, settled in 1837.
The Kies family began in the viticulture and fruit growing business in the late 1800’s and continue now growing grapes for Penfolds’ iconic wines.
Instead of taking a mortgage out to buy a family home Goose and Sandra purchased their first helicopter, in May of 1989 a Bell 47J2A, Goose giving the helicopter to Sandra as a Mother’s Day gift.
They used this helicopter for tourism over the Barossa and fought extremely hard to keep the business going as many people thought and said they would fail. Proving these people wrong, they created a very successful business.
This helicopter VH-THH was purchased from Victoria River Downs station in the Northern Territory – there are a lot of pilots out there with her call sign in their log book – one famous owner/pilot was Rosemary Arnold (first female commercial helicopter pilot in the southern hemisphere) and she used to have it painted pink with purple flowers!!
1997 was the year Barossa Helicopters purchased their first Bell 206 Jet Ranger Turbine helicopter (VH-FRL) from Glasgow in Scotland. – ‘we purchased this helicopter from McDermott Aviation and it was Scotlands’ IRN-BRU mascot helicopter!! It wasn’t until we sold the helicopter that we actually found out what the drink tasted like!!
In 1998 Barossa Helicopters purchased their second Jet Ranger Turbine helicopter (VH-BHV).
The Bell 206 Jet Rangers hold four (4) passengers in each.
Late 2002 Barossa Helicopters acquired another helicopter (Bell 206 Long Ranger), this helicopter holds six (6) passengers. ‘It was purchased as a utility helicopter and we were fortunate enough to acquire a two year contract immediately upon purchase as air attack supervisor fling alongside Elvis on the bushfires working with the Victorian Government.’
In 2004 the decision was made to purchase a new Robinson R44 Raven II (VH-HBK) piston powered helicopter and delivery was taken in October of that year. This aircraft holds three (3) passengers.
VH-HBK enabled Barossa Helicopters to offer a cheaper travelling alternate to the public. Consequently, the Jet Ranger VH-BHV was sold in early 2005, when Billie-Jo met Darren while attending AFT (aviation flight training) at Maroochydore, she mentioned to him at smoko one morning that they possibly had a helicopter for sale. Consequently Darren bought VH-BHV and a little later also bought our other Jetranger VH-FRL, thus freeing up capital allowing Goose and Sandra to purchase another new R44 Clipper II (for over water operations), in mid-November 2005. We decided to keep the two call signs VH-FRL and VH-BHV to be used on our R44’s.
Since then we have purchased another 2 R44 Clipper II helicopters (selling the original VH-HBK), we now have 3 Robinson R44 Clipper II’s in our fleet (VH-FRL, VH-BHV & VH-YBI).
We have since sold both the Bell 206 Long Ranger helicopters VH-BLL to Jayrow Helicopters in Darwin NT and VH-IHC to Air T&G in Ballina NSW. And if you want to hear more you’ll just have to come and visit, you will normally be greeted by one of the family who are always keen for a chat…