Helicopter Geocaching – The Ultimate First To Find (FTF)

Darcy Kydd at ground zero

Darcy Kydd, KaliKydd, describes July 3 as, “A pretty awesome day.”  The sunny Vancouver Island, British Columbia day involved the outdoors, geocaching and a daredevil helicopter ride to claim a First to Find (FTF).

Vancouver Island is home to a skilled geocacher named ceebeecee. He has tallied more than 600 FTFs. But there was one  new Vancouver Island area geocache that lingered without a FTF for weeks. There was a reason.

The traditional geocache, Mt Shepherd (GC2Y4FK), is a difficulty two, terrain five cache. It’s hidden at the top of an island mountain off the Western coast of Canada. Cachers on Vancouver Island would typically need to take a two ferries, drive a four-wheel drive vehicle up the mountain and then hike steep terrain for hours.

Then inspiration struck geocacher Aranea Van Burik, part of the geocaching team Coombs Wooden Shoe. On July 3, Aranea posted a simple question on the “Geocaching on Vancouver Island” Facebook page. The post read, “HELI CACHING!! DOES ANYBODY WANT TO GO?”  The post had a link to the Mt Shepherd geocache. Less then a minute later Darcy responded, “YES!”

Location of Mt. Shepherd cache

Darcy says, “This wasn’t really in the budget, but it was the chance of the lifetime and couldn’t really pass it up.”  Soon, Mike, the other half of Aranea’s caching team Coombs Wooden Shoe, and WossVegas joined.The three geocachers called themselves “Team Nuts.” They had never met in person before this cache. The helicopter was booked for the next day.

Aranea wasn’t able to take the flight but says, “The next day or so was nerve wracking, because I sent out the above notice also to ceebeecee, the FTF hound. He now knew what we were up to, so now the race was on! It turns out that Darcy has her own thing going on with ceebeecee and FTF’s, so I didn’t need to tell her what was at stake here. We kept checking the cache page obsessively and continually to see if he had logged it or not. WE WANTED THAT FTF!”

Darcy has been geocaching since 2007 but nothing on the scale of they were about to attempt.  She says, “I like to get out in the bush, and out in the mountain and up in trees. The more forest the better, and normally my dogs are with me, but they couldn’t come in the helicopter.”

Team Nuts: WossVegas, pilot Mike, Coombs Wooden Shoe and KaliKydd

Dogs on the ground, the plan to snag a FTF was close to literally lifting off. First the team listened to a safety briefing, and then waited for cloud cover to lift from Mt. Shepherd.

The helicopter eventually got the green light to take flight. What would have been a five hour cache run was reduced to a leisurely ride through the clouds.

The helicopter touched down within 30 meters of the cache. Aranea was listening to the radio chatter when she got the news, “When they radioed back saying that they found it and it was a FTF….I did a happy dance…”

Darcy thanked ceebeecee for being a good sport and wrote in her cache log, “Our cheeks will hurt for weeks from the grins on our faces… Seriously, thanks to everyone for an amazing day!” In the log book for the terrain 5 cache she wrote, ““Quick, easy, find.”

She took this video of the flight as the helicopter was about to lift off.

WossVegas logged, “Fanfreakingtastic! Found as part of “Team Nuts” with Coombs Wooden Shoe and KaliKydd. What a day! Nice little stroll from the chopper, admired the view, scanned the slopes to see if ceebeecee was closing in, signed the log, snapped photos and loved every minute of it.” Team Nuts claimed the FTF and took a victory tour of the island by helicopter. Darcy shot this video of this flight into the cache.

Darcy’s advice for anyone interested in helicopter caching is simple. She says, “Find a pilot that’s willing.” And Team Nuts’ pilot might be one of the newest geocachers. Darcy says, “It was his very first cache. He did log the find, and might sign up for an account on Geocaching.com.”

Aranea says she’s ready for the next FTF challenge, ” We go for a FTF at any time, you name it…middle of the night, yup, no problem. We are in! I bought a 20 million candle powered flashlight just for the occasion. This puppy lights up the moon. Anybody that sees this thing asks if I needed to register it with NASA. So I am ready for the next challenge, whatever that might be! I can hardly wait!”