The northern end of the Las Vegas Strip, with the Wynn, Encore, & Stratosphere dominating the skyline
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.
A Maverick Helicopters Eurocopter EC-130 Ecostar on the flightline at Las Vegas Airport
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.
Oh what a great holiday gift! This video shows the pilot’s perspective of moving Christmas trees quickly in Oregon to be sold for the holidays. This pilot is flying a Bell 206B-3 JetRanger helicopter and the video was taken in 2011.
Obviously, the tree farms need to move all those trees quickly from where they are grown to the trucks, and what better way to move them than using a helicopter? (well, there surely isn’t a more fun way)
So, next time you buy a tree, make sure to ask for one that was transported using a helicopter!
Helicopters pretty much rock. One of the downsides is they can be a bit slow. No more says Sikorsky! The Sikorsky X2 takes helicopter speed to the next level. This video was taken on September 15, 2010 and it is a test flight of the X2 where it reached 260kts during a shallow dive and 250kts in level flight.
A lot of people fly only to get from point A to point B. They see it as a hassle and not an adventure. From writing this blog, I think you can guess I am a huge fan of aviation — in any form. To me, flying is still an adventure and is exciting.
As a kid I grew up watching Airwolf (yes, it is on Hulu now) and even looked into flying Dolphins for the US Coast Guard after college (changed my mind). I have grown up flying in small planes, but always have had a fascination with helicopters. I have come very close to flying on a few, but none of them panned out. Flying in a plane is awesome, but you have to keep moving forward to create lift. You can fly by and over things, but you cannot hover. Aircraft also have to follow stricter rules on where they can and cannot fly.
Flying up to Snoqualmie Falls
This is where the helicopter comes in very handy, especially for sight seeing. On Tuesday I was given the opportunity to hitch a ride with Seattle HeliTours and see the greater Seattle area from a very different perspective.
I felt like a kid, having the opportunity to fly in a helicopter for the first time. I wasn’t only getting to fly in a helicopter, but in the front seat, leaving from Boeing Field (BFI), where three Boeing 787’s live. As I pulled up to BFI one Boeing 787 Dreamliner took off, and as I was leaving a second one took off. Even though I still love seeing those wings flex, what happened on the helicopter ride was even more awesome!
I was being piloted by Greg Baker who is also one of the owners of Classic Helicopter Corp, who runs the Seattle HeliTours. My flight would be on one of their Robinson R44 helicopters. They own three R44’s and three R22’s which are mostly used for flight training. I have to say that the Robinson R44 is one neat machine.
Greg and I were able to get very close to the Space Needle and hover around it.
First flown on March 31, 1990, the R44 has provided helicopters to people who never could have financial access to them previously. It being a bit smaller than other helicopters was of no concern, she was very stable and the smaller size let me feel more connected to the flight.
The first thing I noticed was the large windscreen making it easy to see forward. During the summer months, the side doors can be removed (picture from their website, not my flight), really connecting a passenger to the flight. Since it was about 40 degress, Baker decided to keep the doors on — which was a good call.
After taking off, we swooped east, then north and got a great view of Mount Rainier. As stated before, I grew up flying in small planes with my father around the Seattle area, but never this close; it was pretty amazing. After buzzing by Seattle we headed east towards Snoqualmie Falls. It surprised me how much open farmland and woods are still to the east of Seattle. We also got to see a lot of crazy-big homes. How do so many people have outdoor pools in Seattle? Anyhow, once we reached the falls, it was breath-taking!
How to describe seeing the Boeing 787 Dreamliner from a helicopter. "Awesome" just doesn't do it!
I have driven to them a few times before and have seen them from the viewing platform. Nothing can compare to seeing the falls, hovering from a helicopter. This is not something you can do in an airplane. We hovered for a while, turning around, waving to the poor people who were land bound (they waved back).
The flight time was about 45 incredible minutes and of course I could stay up in the air all day. Baker has only been doing this for about two years and loves flying around Seattle and the northwest. One of his best experiences was flying the helicopter from California, up the coast to Seattle (I volunteer to go next time 🙂 ).
The R44 sits at BFI after a great flight.
This flight is great for visitors from out of town, but also really amazing for those of you who live in the Seattle area. Seeing the area from a helicopter is much different than in an airliner flying over or even a small plane. I think it is very much worth the money to take a unique airborne tour of your own city.
This might have been my first helicopter flight, but I can guarantee it won’t be my last. Hearing that “THWOP, THWOP” noise when we were at the right speed, coming down in elevation, while over looking Snoqualmie Falls will stay with me for a long time , and I very much want to experience something like that again in the future.
Have any of you had experiences with helicopter rides or tours that you would like to share?