Groundbreaking helicopter home floats in air in Canada

Written by Jennifer Kho, CNN

There’s something romantic about a secluded, romantic abode — whether it’s an Italian villa with turrets and a winding road down to it, or the cabins of Willy Wonka. But it’s not often that you’ll find an Alpine getaway that’s actually floating in the air.

Take Rick Wright’s space in the Laurentian Mountains in Canada. When Wright first saw it, it was an “odd, completely disused” building leaning precariously over the slopes.

A spectacular views

The structure was built in 1850 and thus subject to a century’s worth of natural damage. Wright had long wanted a place of his own, but the mountains were all too high for a building.

He was determined to make it work, so he took a friend with him to the location. “We turned the corner and it was there,” he said. “I couldn’t believe that the structure was still there. We sat there for hours on the deck and drank hot drinks and it was glorious.”

It looked like a strong piece of steel that was in the right place. “But it was really not and I didn’t know what to do.”

He called around to the company that made the wooden beams, and then found out it could be moved back to the shape it had once been. “I had to kill the builders — they didn’t want to do it anymore!” he said.

Night at the top

The plan was to rebuild the building — with the addition of a metal frame and a full-sized helicopter to lift it and the three tons of cargo inside. It was “crazy and dangerous and, as you can imagine, it took three years and an enormous amount of money,” Wright said.

“The thing was not pretty when I got it home. It was under two feet of snow and the helicopter couldn’t get to it. It was very eerie.”

The little structure, he thought, looked foolish in such a harsh environment. But he did the sums, and realized a helicopter could move it most of the year, he said.

It wasn’t long before Wright got his moment. To transport the log cabin the size of a basketball court, Wright hired an unusual ex-copter.

“A helicopter landed in front of us and took us to the top. As we climbed up, the ceiling of the helipad was surprisingly high — it looked like an enormous space.”

The view was spellbinding. “The first time we got up there, I looked down and it was a great view for such a small building,” he said.

There is now a crane on the helipad and a sledge “with a propeller as an anchoring,” he said. “It’s sturdy but all the wood is valued and moved on the snow. It was crazy that I had that on my shoulder.”

Taking a break

Right now, Wright and his partner take it easy in front of the mountains. “It’s never at 100% because it’s completely untested,” he said.

“We run it completely autonomously now. It’s a pure luxury property, although with high-quality finishes.”

Chalet Perch sits close to the ski-in, ski-out tarmac of the Chamonix ski resort.

But as someone who has worked as a corporate architect, it’s a different challenge. “It’s only an eight-hour flight up to Canada and it’s an eight-hour flight back,” he said. “It’s not an ordinary estate.”

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