High Mountain Peaks to Glistening Reefs — Exploring the Islands with Caribbean Buzz Helicopters 

Founded in 2011, Caribbean Buzz Helicopters are a unique helicopter tour agency working out of Charlotte Amalie West in the US Virgin Islands. TracPlus had the opportunity to sit down with Maria Rodriguez, from Caribbean Buzz, to learn more about their operations and find out what makes their offering so unique.

With over 20 years of experience, Maria is a seasoned aviator. Maria grew up in St. Thomas and through years of having a birds-eye view of the land, has explored every nook and cranny of the US and British Virgin Islands.

Beyond showing off this island from a tourism perspective, Maria also dedicates her time to disaster relief and ensuring her treasured community is supported through her services. In 2017, Maria was the recipient of the HAI Pilot of the Year award, for her incredible work throughout the hurricane season. 

Here's more from Maria herself.

Why was Caribbean Buzz created? 

We had an opportunity to open our business when another operator had pulled out of the territory. This meant there would be no more helicopter services for the communities.

We knew that helicopters were what we did best, so we decided to give the owner/operator world a try.

What services do you offer? 

Caribbean Buzz flies and manages helicopters. We offer a variety of tours, charters to other islands, day trips, and emergency services. We are also a management company that takes care of helicopters for remote islands and on private yachts.

You work in one of the most beautiful places in the world, what is it like operating a helicopter company in such a world-class location?

"It’s incredibly beautiful here in the islands. The vibrant colours and scenery are never boring. It’s a daily reminder in gratitude."

Our team is extremely lucky to have the privilege of working in such a special location. 

What makes Caribbean Buzz different from other helicopter companies? 

We care. If something happens on a remote island, oftentimes, the quickest way to get there is via helicopter. We fly over to support as much as we are able to. Sometimes without reimbursement. We believe this is a small price to pay for providing a sense of security to people in remote areas.

Our customers are really interested in the machinery that operators use, can you run us through your operational fleet? 

We operate two Robinson 44’s, one Bell 206 Jet Ranger, and one VIP H145. Our fleet is dynamic. This allows us to offer a catalogue of different tourism experiences for all customer types. Whether it’s weddings or Heli-adventures, Caribbean Buzz has the team and the fleet to provide the ultimate customer experience. 

"The most fulfilling part of our job is seeing the joy that our customers get from our tours — we love the smiles and hugs from happy people."

What are the biggest challenges you face in the industry? 

The public misconception of helicopter safety. Helicopters get a bad wrap when it comes to safety, which is not warranted. Helicopters are fantastic and safe tools which allow operators, like us, to offer unique tourism experiences, experiences that could not be achieved with a fixed-wing aircraft. 

Sky-rocketing insurance rates are a consistent challenge for our company, as is the case when you maintain multiple high-value assets. The cost of keeping them protected is substantial.

Because the Caribbean is full of multiple islands which are sovereign states, this creates a constant challenge specific to our company, which is dealing with customs and immigrations several times per day at both the British, US and French airports.

What role has technology played in your business?

Better weather prediction, better traffic avoidance, and better time management. The integration of technology has made our operational processes more efficient as a whole. 

What is next for Caribbean Buzz?  

Caribbean Buzz is working towards securing more landing areas around the British and US Virgin Islands. These islands are ideal for day-hopping, which would allow us to establish tours where you can visit several amazing islands in one day. It will allow us to show off all the fantastic sights the Virgin Islands have to offer!

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