A great way to get a different perspective of a place is to take a flight over it. Heading to somewhere you haven’t been before, well why wouldn’t you take a flightseeing trip to get that different perspective? As part of my honeymoon with my wife Heidi after our AvGeek wedding, we wanted to have a few new experiences each on this trip. One of the things that I like to do is take a helicopter ride over cities.
When we decided to visit Las Vegas, I really wanted Heidi to get that experience of seeing the city by hovering above (since this was her first trip to the city). This would also be not only her first visit to Vegas, but also her first helicopter flight. How could she marry an AvGeek and never have flown in a helicopter before? It was time to change that.
The folks at Maverick Helicopters helped us out by taking us on a scenic helicopter flight over the Las Vegas Strip. It was a unique experience and I was as excited as Heidi was, but for me it was mainly because there was the chance I could get to do some spotting from inside the helicopter (like Bernie does quite a lot).
Maverick has the largest fleet of Ecostar helicopters in the USA, which means you have a very good chance of getting one of these spectacular helicopters for your flight. I have flown in Ecostars (a Eurocopter EC130) and they provide a superior flight experience. Quiet on the inside thanks to good sound suppression and the fact that the helicopter has a fenestron tail.
What is a fenestron? If you take a look at the back of most helicopters you will see the tail rotor. The tail rotor is there to keep the helicopter from spinning wildly out of control by counteracting the torque created by the main rotor.
When Eurocopter (now Airbus Helicopters) developed the fenestron it created what is now a brand trademark, being found on most of their helicopters. The fenestron is a shroud around the tail rotor and by keeping it ducted, you reduce noise but also danger to those on the ground. So since the Ecostar has this on the tail of the helicopter it cuts down the noise considerably and means that you can have a more pleasant experience. Plus the fact that the Ecostar has a large nose, that is almost all glass, means that you get a better visual experience as well. Pretty much ideal for a flightseeing trip.
The flightseeing trip over the Las Vegas strip may only be a 10-12 minute flight, but you get a chance to really see just how big the strip is, and how expansive the resorts and casinos are.
The flights can also happen at night, with a great view of the neon that the city is famous for. However, we took our flight at sunset, a sight that I much prefer. That way you can get some beautiful pictures of the city and the surrounding areas as the sun sets in the background. But the real reason we flew this was for Heidi’s first helicopter experience. You don’t want to read about my thoughts, you want to see hers, in her own words:
“I was not sure what to expect as I had never been on a helicopter before and I was interested in comparing it to my experiences in other small aircraft,” Heidi explained.”The flight was smoother than I expected and I was very comfortable. The movement felt very similar to a small aircraft, although when we took a hard bank to the left over the strip, I could feel the rotor vibration that I was expecting. Overall it was a very thrilling ride and a great way to see the strip. I like how being up in the air puts everything in context. I enjoyed flying during the day so that I could take photos. Flying in a helicopter was thrilling, comfortable, and offers a unique perspective. It is also a more intimate experience, sharing a flight with a handful of people rather than with a tour bus of 45 or more.”
The helicopter ride was provided for both of us by Maverick Helicopters, although all opinions are our own.