HNZ Topflight celebrates grand opening

The Penticton Herald
October 17, 2012
By The Penticton Herald
Oct. 17, 2012, Penticton, B.C. - One of the country's premier helicopter flying schools will take flight under a different name at new facilities in Penticton.
The grand opening for the new building that will house Canadian Helicopters under the name HNZ Topflight was celebrated Friday afternoon at Penticton Regional Airport.

"It's fantastic. We're really proud of it," said Don Wall, president and chief executive officer of the HNZ Group, who is responsible for bringing the 20,000-square-foot, $5-million facility to the city.

Wall noted most helicopter schools are modestly designed. However, with the world-class reputation Canadian Helicopters has built since it was founded in the late 1940s, the company was interested in making the necessary improvements, he said.

Construction of the new building was completed earlier this year, and Canadian Helicopters moved into the new premises in early August.

The former facility measured only 2,500 square feet, and it's now being used for storage.

The school has six flight instructors, three engineers and two office staff, and uses six helicopters to train 200-300 experienced pilots each year.

"We think it's a business with potential, so it was worth investing into," Wall said. "We want to bring our charter customers here so they can see what we can do."

The company explored other sites for its expansion and decided Penticton offered the ideal location.

"It's clean. It's classy and it's built for the long run," he said.

Wall noted the hangar currently has three helicopters parked inside but is capable of housing more as the school grows.

"We're so glad to have HNZ here as its main base," said Penticton Mayor Dan Ashton. "They're a worldwide company that brings recognition for the flight school."

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