When Rodger McCutcheon decided to move with his business from Tonga to the Samoan Archipelago about one year ago, the first person he met was Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi.
“He was very encouraging about the idea to found a helicopter rescue service in Samoa. But I said all along I didn’t want any financial support for my company, because it is meant to be a fully private operation.”
With this step, Mr. McCutcheon not only tried to establish a rescue service in Samoa, his helicopter is also used for purposes concerning tourism in the country.
“Most of the incoming bookings we receive are made on Facebook and include requests for weddings, scenic flights or transfers”.
However, the company’s main goal, which is to serve for the country as a rescue service, is still held up by a lack of publicity for the company.
“We could absolutely do a rescue mission right now. If somebody would call now, we could lift off immediately, there is no problem with that.
“But the people in Samoa do not quite know yet about the opportunity to pick up the phone and call a helicopter if it’s needed.”
To improve the cooperation with the local hospital, Mr. McCutcheon also has a concrete vision, which includes the formation of a trust for his company.
“My passion is to form the Samoa helicopter trust. This is a standard operation that is done all around the world, which would give us the opportunity to work with trusted people. Any funding or donation that we would receive goes straight into that trust and therefore we can ensure that our rescue service will be available at any time and for any person that needs our help.”
According to Mr. McCutcheon, a plan to set up such a trust for his service in Samoa is already in the works.
“If we develop this trust in the same way it is done in Australia or New Zealand, we can’t fail. I am already in touch with people involved in the trust over there and hopefully, we can form one here as well.”
With this in the works, Mr. McCutcheon already has some plans for the future of Samoa Helicopters in mind, which include the expansion of the fleet.
“Currently we use only one helicopter for both businesses, tourism and rescue service. Our main focus certainly is to use one additional helicopter which would then be used for rescue purposes only,” he explains.
The helicopter he speaks about, the “Eurocopter AS 350”, is described by Mr. McCutcheon as “probably the most versatile and world recognized tourism and rescue helicopter.”
“This model has saved over twenty thousand lives in Australia and New Zealand and speaking of our helicopter here in particular, it is approved and certified by the civil air division here in Samoa as well as in Australia.”
Mr. McCutcheon also spoke out about the recent tragedy that happened in Apia with the explosion of a fuel tank at the city’s main wharf, where one worker lost his life.
“First I have to explain that from a helicopter’s angle, it is possible to see things in a way that otherwise is not available.
“From emergency’s point of view, the helicopter could have been used to estimate the danger or at least to provide footage for the local media.
“But because of the heat that was generated by the fire, the helicopter wouldn’t have done any good. The best decision was to get the fire service trucks out, which they did.”
Samoa Helicopters can be reached at the emergency number 7288228.