The next time you take a seat on the Montezuma Express lift at Keystone and notice there’s a little extra room, you’ve got a Black Hawk helicopter to thank. On Tuesday, Keystone brought in a helicopter to help with construction on the new lift set to open next winter.

“The helicopter is here assisting us today to remove the old cross arms and lift towers,” said Sara Lococo, spokeswoman for Keystone Resort.

One of Keystone’s capital improvement projects is the replacement of the Montezuma Express lift, one of the main lifts on Dercum Mountain that serves intermediate and beginner terrain. The new lift will feature a high-speed, six-passenger chair to replace the old, 4-person chair.

The helicopter started flying at 8:00 a.m. Tuesday, but took a break in the Mountain House base area parking lot about noon. Many stopped by in anticipation of the chopper taking off again. Tina Holton brought along two-year-old, Nora.

“I think [Nora] just likes that it’s something different and exciting that she doesn’t get to see every day,” Holton said.

There was a bit of a delay to the start of the afternoon show. Some pieces of the lift towers on the mountain were too heavy for the helicopter to carry. Crews had to disassemble sections to make them easier to lift. While they worked, the audience in the parking lot below, waited. Tina and Nora waited more than two hours in the parking lot. Tina eventually called her husband, Cory, who stopped by after work to bring water and snacks. Eventually, the chopper took off again and resumed work picking up pieces of the old lift and dropping them down into the parking lot. For Tina and Nora, it was well-worth the wait.

Keystone ski lift gear
Keystone ski lift gear

“I could have taken lunch a little earlier, but [Nora] – she really loved it,” Tina said.

The Black Hawk will be back in the fall to carry up the new lift towers and cross arms. Parts from the old Montezuma Express lift will go to Beaver Creek, Sara Lococo said. Unused parts will go into storage for use in future lift projects.

RAW VIDEO: Black Hawk helicopter helps with Keystone construction