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Business Happenings - Aug 2019

Pinnacle Helicopter Tours with Ben and Dacia Black
By Linda Schmidt

Now in only their seventh season, Pinnacle Helicopters is currently rated the Number One air tour operator and Number Eight in best outdoor activities in Moab, Utah on TripAdvisor. It also ranks in the top 20 national helicopter tour outfits in this year’s USA Today’s survey. This is a success story!

After serving in the US Navy for four years, Ben Black dreamed of becoming a helicopter pilot, but first began his fixed-winged training in 1996. Dacia, a chemical engineer, met Ben in Farmington, New Mexico in 2003 and they were married in Durango, Colorado two years later. She fully supported his desire to fly helicopters, and when employment took them from Farmington to Houston Texas in 2005, Ben was able to complete his commercial helicopter pilot certificate. Ben then flew for a helicopter service company flying pipeline surveys and Dacia worked in the natural gas industry.

In 2008 they moved to Durango. Dacia was again employed in the natural gas industry and Ben traveled the country as a long line helicopter pilot supporting a seismic company. While living in Durango, Ben and Dacia often visited Moab, especially in the winter to take a break from Durango’s snowy winter. During their many visits, the idea of creating a helicopter tour business in Moab began to grow in Ben’s mind. By 2013, he knew he had to try it, and leased a helicopter for that first season. Business went so well that the following year the couple permanently moved to Moab and purchased their first helicopter. The popularity of Pinnacle Helicopters has enabled them to expand their fleet to two aircraft, and last year they built their own hanger and heli-pad at the Canyonlands Airport north of Moab.

Both of Pinnacle’s helicopters are the sleek Robinson R44 Raven II, the world’s best-selling general aviation helicopter. Small, relatively easy to maintain, this aircraft is perfect for the Black’s operation. It can be flown year around, and the cockpit and bubble side windows provide excellent viewing. The Raven II seats three passengers, and children under two years of age can sit on an adult’s lap. Headsets enable the pilot to share his extensive knowledge of the area with each passenger.

These popular tours for two to three passengers range in flight time from 20 minutes to an hour, with breathtaking views of the towering cliffs and deep canyons, stunning arches, and spectacular buttes that make southeast Utah’s red rock country world-famous. Tours are flown at 500–600 feet to provide great close-up sight-seeing; for big views, the helicopter will climb up to 1500–1800 feet. Some of the well-known features seen on these flights are Deadhorse Point, the rim of Island in the Sky, Kane Creek Canyon, the Colorado River corridor, Corona, Gemini and Pritchett Arches, Determination Towers, the Merrimac and Monitor Buttes, Castle Tower and Porcupine Rim.

A longer tour includes a landing in remote canyon country after crossing the Green River and viewing the northern edge of the Maze, Ekker Butte, the Buttes of the Cross, and Upheaval Dome. The helicopter shuts down, and passengers can explore an abandoned mining camp in perfect high desert solitude.

Pinnacle also offers very exciting combo of flight and canyoneering in partnership with Moab Canyon tours. Fly to (in)famous Blue John Canyon to meet a canyoneering guide and spend the day exploring the canyon before flying back to Moab.

Other services include charter and shuttle services throughout the Four Corners area and doors-off photography flights over southeast Utah and Canyonlands National Park. Custom tours for two to three passengers tailored to personal choices of flight options, routes and landings, can be arranged.

There is no age limit, either up or down. Even well-behaved furry friends are welcomed! The Blacks own two beautiful dogs who adore them, and though the flying doesn’t seem to thrill these dogs, they would rather fly than be left behind.

Find out for yourself why Pinnacle Helicopters is so popular and so highly rated! Check out their fine website at for more details and photos of all their exhilarating excursions. Pinnacle is located at the Canyonlands airport, about 20 minutes north of Moab. To book your flight, call 435-220-0014 or 855-359-6622, or email

Edge of Canyonlands Tours include the Colorado River, Deadhorse Point, Thelma and Louise Point, spectacular view of Island in the Sky and Kane Creek Canyon. The longer of these tours heads north over Moab and Castle Valley to Fisher Towers and Porcupine Rim.

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