MINERVA - Despite the wind and chilly temperatures in Minerva on Sunday, Oct. 11, the sounds of a helicopter taking off, cruising the area, and safely landing could be heard in the vicinity of Sporty's Iron Duke Saloon.
Indeed, a helicopter was available all that day, taking interested folks on a 15-minute tour of the area, which included spectacular hardwood forests at peak Autumn color.
Handling three riders at a time, the pilot flew over Minerva and environs, allowing for excellent snapshot-taking opportunities.
Rider Debbie Palmatier said, "The colors were awesome - it was all breathtaking. Taking photos was tough because you felt like you were missing something while you were busy taking snapshots".
Of the relatively small fee charged each passenger, 25 percent went as a donation to the Essex County Toys for Kids program, which will help to supply toys to about 400 needy children in eight Essex County school districts.
Probably the most "mature" passenger on the copter that day was Norm Persons, an active 91-year-old from Olmstedville who had never ridden on a helicopter prior to Sunday.
Helped on to the aircraft by his son Malcolm, Norm said, "I've never been higher than a 20-foot ladder."
Minerva Central School 5th grader Larissa Smith had the opportunity to fly to Glens Falls when the helicopter needed refueling. "It was great," she said.
About 85 passengers had the chance to fly in owner Bruce Mowery's helicopter. For the past five years his North Country Heliflight business has operated out of Bolton Landing and provided helicopter rides for tourists as well as helped out in similar benefit fundraisers including The Make-a-Wish and Charles Woods Foundations.
Karl Russell, who helped organize the event with Sporty's owner David Beale, worked with Sporty five years ago to begin the Toys for Kids program, which collects and distributes to children such items as toys, coats, hats, and boots.
Also participating in the event was the Minerva Volunteer Fire Department & Rescue Squad, which sold refreshments as well as conducted a 50/50 raffle.
A number of Minerva Rescue Squad members stayed throughout the day working the grill and the coffee maker. Thanks to all who came out on a chilly day to help out. A special thanks to Kathy Halloran for allowing the squad to use her gas grill.
Minerva Fire Department member Travis Howe summed up the day, "It was a unique opportunity - very enjoyable."