Skydancing: High Adventure with Helicopters


174 pages
Contains Photos
ISBN 0-88839-252-4
DDC 629.13'092




Reviewed by Matt Hartman

Matt Hartman is a freelance editor and cataloguer, running Hartman Cataloguing, Editing and Indexing Services.


Fredlund has flown helicopters, mostly in western Canada, for more than
twenty years. His experiences have brought him into contact with most of
the industry’s important figures. He writes, in Skydancing’s
preface, “This book is my contribution to the knowledge, gene pool of
the commercial helicopter industry. I hope that my stories of moving
from a scared student to a brash rookie and finally to a wily veteran
will enlighten you, and that the places, people, and incidents along the
way will entertain you.” Fredlund’s story is, indeed, both
enlightening (in the detailed technical facts he provides on helicopter
flying) and entertaining (in his colorful descriptions of personal
triumphs and failures). He is one of the very few pilots who have
learned to fly helicopters with little or no prior training in
fixed-wing aircraft.

The terrain of British Columbia and Canada’s North is probably some
of the most challenging in the country: that rugged, mountainous
landscape makes helicopter transport invaluable. Fredlund recounts his
work assisting in high-mountain oil-well drilling and mining operations,
as well as wildlife biology. But it is his quest for daring adventure
that gives his book its flavor, along with its title. “Skydancing”
is the author’s term for using a helicopter to photograph and
otherwise assist “extreme skiers”—those daredevils whose “art
form consist[s] of flinging themselves off cliffs on skis, [after
which], in virtual free-falls, they . . . reach out with their skis to
push off from small patches of snow.” The helicopter must hover,
swoop, and dive (“skydancing”) to follow the skiers’ descent—and
all within nearly touching distance of the mountain walls! Fredlund has
formed alliances with photojournalists and cinematographers who were
world-class climbers, skiers, and adventurers. Well-illustrated with 30
pages of color photographs. Recommended for public and school libraries.


Fredlund, Manley., “Skydancing: High Adventure with Helicopters,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed May 27, 2024,