Reno helicopter company to offer charters to wine country
Reno Tahoe Helicopters is expanding its business to offer charter service to the California wine country, hard-to-reach fly fishing spots and shuttle serve between the Reno Tahoe International Airport and ski resorts.
The 10-year old business currently offers several scenic helicopter tours of Lake Tahoe taking off from South Lake Tahoe and Truckee, aerial filming and photography services and HeliMinden, a flight instruction school based at the Minden-Tahoe Airport.
Late last year, the helicopter company received an Air Carrier Certification from the Federal Aviation Administration, allowing it to move into the charter service.
But first Reno Tahoe Helicopter owner Claudio Bellotto, a former pilot in the Italian Air Force, had to pass his own test.
“I recently got my U.S. citizenship,which allowed me to get the FAA certification,” says Bellotto.
Bellotto says the company can start offering shuttle service from the Reno airport to resorts including Squaw Valley immediately as well as its first winery tours, which will include lunch, winery tour and wine tasting.
“We have landing rights at a winery in Auburn,” he says.
Bellotto hopes to launch the fly fishing charter sometime in the spring, after securing the necessary landing rights on private property in the area around Markleeville, Calif.
“There are several lakes and streams that are very difficult to get to unless you hike for hours,” says Bellotto. “And there’s amazing fly fishing.”
Bellotta plans to dedicate his company’s six-passenger, Bell 206L-4 LongRanger helicopter to the new services.
The company also owns a fleet of four, three-passenger Robinson R44 Raven II helicopters and employs seven people, including pilots and instructors.
The HeliMinden flight school, the country’s only helicopter flight school at high altitude, according to Bellotto, has a 100-percent graduation rate. The school has 26 students currently enrolled and has taught a total of about 80 pilots, says Bellotto.