Creative helicopter pilots in Quebec are beginning to realize a new revenue stream for chartered flights – prison breaks by air. Becoming bored with hauling tourists over local landmarks and migrating moose herds, Canadian operators are finding soaring profits and excitement in this new cottage industry of penitentiary air lifts.
“The biggest challenge is marketing” says one unnamed adventure-seeking pilot. “You can’t just leave a stack of brochures at a popular tourist spot like you do for the Grand Canyon or Las Vegas Strip. It’s more of a ‘referral’ business.” However, after last week’s brazen exercise yard landing, innovative pilots are demonstrating a variety of ways to reach what could be called a captive audience.
Word of mouth travels fast on the inside. Besides Saturday’s freedom flight at Orsainville Detention Center in Quebec City, a second jailbird took flight in March of 2013 from a correctional facility in nearby St. Jerome. In fact, pilots around the world are proving this is a valid business model that can really take off, even gaining repeat customers such as Pascal Payet, a French prisoner that has attempted escape by helicopter 3 times.
Recognizing the growth potential in this emerging market, a representative from a Montreal STC manufacturer reports the company’s R&D team is developing options for retractable ladders to give potential customers safe and FAA approved options for embarking on this unique kind of adventure travel.
Entering into any new market comes with risks, but according to Dudley Do-Right of the Royal Canadian Guard, “It just seems downright unfriendly to actually shoot at the helicopters, eh?” Leave it to our friends in the great white north to push the envelope when it comes to bringing a new level of excitement to helicopter flight!