Copters cruise above Eagle |

Copters cruise above Eagle

Geoff MintzDaily correspondentVail, CO Colorado

NWS copter ride KA 5-14-11

EAGLE – There was an awful lot of buzzing around the town of Eagle on Saturday. It will continue today with Copters for a Cause offering helicopter rides to the public, part of the Party for the Planet and Get Out Expo festivities this weekend. Helicopter pilot and Copters for a Cause founder Cayce Batterson said, like skydiving and bungee jumping, riding in a chopper is one of those things on everybody’s bucket list. This weekend, the rides are benefiting Eagle County’s Roundup River Ranch, which offers camping and outdoor experiences for children with life-threatening diseases. “It’s something that I’ve been thinking about doing for a number of years now, and in August of last year, we really got it going,” Batterson said. “At the time, there was a lot of downturn in the economy. There were a lot of pilots sitting around, so we figured we might as well use their skills and the helicopters to raise money for a good cause.”Based out of Broomfield, the Copters for a Cause program operates most weekends in various locations around the state. While there is certainly some overhead involved in running the choppers all day, Batterson said each aircraft earns between $400 and $1,000 per hour for the various charities. They will be offering rides in two helicopters – an MD500 and a Robinson 44 – today starting at 10 a.m. for $75 a pop. It’s great for kids, who may aspire to become pilots after a cruise around Eagle.”We actually get a lot of pilot applicants -guys who want to do it as a career, as a result of these fundraiser – people who have never been in one before but wind up having a really great time,” Batterson said. “It’s a win-win for us because the pilots love to go fly and the charities are psyched, so we try to do it as much as possible.”

The Get Out Expo and Party for the Planet festivals joined forces this year in an effort to attract people to town. With local funk group The Sessh playing live music and the Chro-Moly competition set for today, there will be a lot of action at Eagle Ranch.The festival showcases the latest gear, with representatives from bike manufacturers on hand to show off the best new bikes. Reps from Ibis, Maverick, Kona, Marin, Rocky Mountain, Orbea, Ellsworth and Parlee will be available to answer questions and offer test rides. In addition, Lakota Guides will provide free rafting trips down the Eagle River, and folks can try out the newest Street Swell and Honey skateboards.One of the biggest draws will be the Chro-Moly competition. Great for spectators, it’s an Iron Chef-style event, where gear heads from local shops will construct bikes from scratch with a mishmash of bike parts.”The Iron Chef competition is a TV show where chefs have to put together a meal with only the ingredients that are provided, and I thought, that might be a really cool thing to try and do with bikes,” Street Swell founder and Eagle resident John Cummins said. “I’ve never seen it anywhere else – as far as I know, it’s an original idea. So it’ll be really fun to see what happens.”There will be three categories: Function, Creative and Speed (50 yards around a cone and back). A $500 cash prize will be handed out to the winner. The day kicks off with an outdoor spin class at 9 a.m., followed by BB&B (Bloodies, Boards and Bikes) at 10 a.m.