Meet the Team
Glacier Country Helicopters is a local, family owned and operated company in Franz Josef.
Husband and wife team Gus & Poppy started the company in January 2014, and both being experienced pilots themselves, they still have their sleeves rolled up each day working their roles in the business.
Our team of highly skilled pilots have extensive experience flying in the unique mountain environment we operate in. All pilots participate in regular, comprehensive training.
We are endorsed by Qualmark and have been award their Gold Sustainable Tourism Business Award.
Our company and pilots all have outstanding safety records.
We are certified under the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) so you know you’ll be in good hands flying with our team.
CEO / Pilot / Owner
Poppy is a line pilot and our CEO. She is from a local family of helicopter pilots and was brought up in the helicopter industry here in Glacier Country.
The last thing she wanted to be growing up was a pilot but eventually the call was too strong and she become a commercial pilot in 2008.
Combined with her passion for travel, Poppy’s aviation career has seen her working overseas in Australia and here in New Zealand.
These days we keep Poppy (aka Super Mum / Wonder Woman) pretty busy between her roles in the company while raising her and Gus’s two daughters.
Operations Manager / Pilot / Owner
Gus was brought up in the Wanaka and West Coast aviation industries and is from a family lineage of aviators, dating back to when his grandfather Freddy Gordon began flying as a pilot in 1917.
He has nearly 30 years of experience working in various parts of the industry and a wealth of skills he brings to the table as our lead pilot.
Gus is our back country expert and his custom charter experiences are tailored to individual needs which are fondly referred to as “Gus Adventures” by many of our returning guests.
Dion has been flying in Glacier Country since 2014 and in December 2023 he celebrates 20 years of flying.
With over 7000 hours, Dion is one of the most experienced pilots in the region.
His career has seen him flying in New Zealand and Indonesia and prior to becoming a pilot he worked internationally in the military and private security.
You know you’ll be in good hands with Dion at the helm.
Deputy Operations Manager
John Funnell is our company ‘godfather’ with over 40+ years of mountain flying experience in the aviation industry.
He was one of New Zealand’s longest serving Rescue Helicopter Pilots, and when he retired in 2016, he published some of his stories in his book – Rescue Pilot – which is well worth the read!
Megan is originally from the West Coast but only moved down to Glacier Country in 2019 after returning from her OE.
She brought with her over 15 years of small business experience, largely in the tourism industry both domestically and internationally.
Megan is generally the first point of contact for our clients and a whiz at making things happen.
Aarron had been visiting Franz Josef for over 30 years and finally made the move permanent in 2021 for a “quieter” pace of life.
He is a keen hunter, Fisherman and a passionate Greenstone Carver.
He brings with him over 30 years of Health & Safety experience and an array of “dad jokes” – You’ll often find him driving the van & entertaining our customers!
Mike is one of our local lads. He gained his Commerical Pilots licence in 2009 and has extensive ground crew experience, so when he’s not in the air, he keeps our hangar in ship-shape and is our CMO (Chief Morale Officer).
Mike has been away from the coast for a few years, spending the last 15 years as a Rugby Referee, refereeing in New Zealand and professionally in the United States od America.
A Fly Fishing guide to add to his list of attributes, Mike decided in 2022 it was time to move home and make aviation his full time job again, and chase more fish!
Chris has been flying since 2002, and splits his time between his role as a pilot for the West Coast Westpac Rescue Helicopter and flying casually for us in Franz Josef, where he lives with his wife and two sons.
In his spare time they love to get out in his boat and it is rare to sight him during whitebait season!
Jonty the Cat
Security / Pest Control
Jonty was adopted from the SPCA as a kitten in 2017 and is head security officer at the hangar. He keeps a sharp eye on everything happening and doesn’t hesitate for a pat down with visitors. He’s also known to check out new vehicles in the car park and has accidentally hitched a ride into town previously! His instincts always see him come home safely, where pest control is one of his favourite hobbies.
Rachel splits her time between her deer farm (raising velvet and venison) and flying helicopters in both Canterbury and for us in Franz Josef.
An experienced pilot, with over 10 years flying and a back ground in aviation, which includes some international contracts as an agricultural pilot in Canada.