If you’ve ever typed ‘helicopter rides near me’ into a search engine you may have been surprised by the number of results. The reason is that, thanks to the unique features of helicopters and where they can operate, there are three main options for anyone wanting to fly in one.
First there are helicopter tours. A helicopter tour is a sightseeing excursion in a helicopter, during which passengers can take in views of landmarks or other scenic attractions from the air.
Secondly there are helicopter rides or pleasure flights. A helicopter pleasure flight is a short flight in a helicopter, typically for the purpose of experiencing the thrill of flight or for a special occasion such as a significant birthday, a wedding, or a proposal.
Thirdly, there is the option of flight training. A helicopter lesson is a structured instructional session in which a student learns how to fly a helicopter, either as a beginner or to build upon existing piloting skills. Helicopter lessons typically involve both ground instruction and flight time, and are usually provided by certified flight instructors at a flight school or other training facility.
Since rides and tours do not involve any instruction, the requirements of the operators differ from those who offer flight training. So you have find that there are operators who offer scenic helicopter tours but don’t offer helicopter lessons.
The Excitement Of Helicopter Rides In The UK
Helicopter rides and scenic tours over the UK offer a unique and exciting way to experience the country’s diverse landscapes and iconic landmarks. From a bird’s eye view, you can take in breathtaking panoramic views of cities like London, Manchester, and Glasgow, as well as rural areas such as the Lake District, the Cotswolds, and the Scottish Highlands.
On a helicopter tours in the UK’s capital city you can fly over iconic London landmarks like Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament, Tower Bridge, and Buckingham Palace. Flights down the River Thames are very popular due to the proliferation of world famous landmarks.
You might also fly over natural wonders like the world famous coastline of Southern England, the White Cliffs of Dover, the Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland, or the rugged coastline of Cornwall. Or how about a helicopter flight over the Peak District, the Yorkshire Dales, St Ives Bay, or the Severn Valley?
In Scotland there is the Edinburgh Castle and the Glasgow Cathedral to see from the air, along with thousands of acreas of stunning vistas over the highlands and lowlands. There is no shortage of sightseeing flights in England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland.
In addition to sightseeing, helicopter rides and tours can also be a fun and memorable experience for special occasions such as weddings, proposals, anniversaries, and birthdays. Imagine sweeping your loved one off their feet with a romantic helicopter ride over a picturesque landscape, or celebrating a milestone with a thrilling tour of the UK’s finest landmarks.
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City of London Helicopter Tour
- Helicopter flights over the heart of the capital
- Fly up to London & follow the curve of the Thames
- Choice of Greater London departure points
- Flight paths may be altered by Air Traffic Control
The Thrill Of Helicopter Rides In The USA
There are many breathtaking and scenic locations in the USA that are suitable for helicopter sightseeing flights. Some of the most spectacular places to fly over include:
- Grand Canyon National Park: The Grand Canyon is a natural wonder that is best experienced from above. A helicopter ride through the canyon will take you over the vast chasm, giving you a unique perspective on this iconic landmark.
- Yellowstone National Park: Yellowstone is home to a variety of stunning landscapes, including geysers, hot springs, and waterfalls. A helicopter tour of the park allows you to take in these natural wonders from above, and possibly see wildlife such as bears, bison, and elk (though one imagines it would be from a distance due to the noise).
- Niagara Falls: Niagara Falls is one of the most famous waterfalls in the world, and a thrilling helicopter ride is a great way to experience the power and beauty of this natural wonder.
- The Hawaiian Islands: The Hawaiian Islands are home to some of the most beautiful beaches and landscapes in the world. A helicopter tour of the islands will take you over white sandy beaches, crystal clear waters, and lush green forests.
- The Rocky Mountains: The Rocky Mountains offer some of the most breathtaking views in the USA. A helicopter ride throught the Rockies will take you over snow-capped peaks, alpine meadows, and crystal clear lakes.
- The Golden Gate Bridge: The Golden Gate Bridge is an iconic symbol of San Francisco, and a helicopter tour of the city will give you a unique perspective on this famous landmark.
- The Las Vegas Strip: The Las Vegas Strip is known for its bright lights and lavish casinos, and a helicopter tour of the city will give you a bird’s eye view of the glitz and glamour of Sin City.
Helicopter Rides Over the Continent Of Africa
Africa is vast and the number of locaitons for helicopter rides in one African country alone could fill this post, but here is a very short list of some of the favourite areas for helicopter tours in Africa.
- Victoria Falls: Located on the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe, Victoria Falls is one of the largest and most spectacular waterfalls in the world. Helicopter sightseeing flights over the falls allow you to appreciate the full majesty of this natural wonder.
- The Serengeti National Park: The Serengeti is home to a wide variety of wildlife, including lions, elephants, and giraffes. Helicopter flights of the park allow tourists to see these animals in their natural habitat from above.
- The Namib Desert: The Namib Desert is home to some of the most dramatic and beautiful landscapes in Africa. A helicopter ride over the desert allows you to take in the vast expanse of sand dunes and rugged terrain.
- The Maasai Mara National Reserve: The Maasai Mara is home to a wide variety of wildlife, including big cats such as lions and leopards. A helicopter ride over the reserve allows you to see these animals up close and personal.
- Table Mountain: Table Mountain is a iconic landmark in South Africa, and a helicopter ride over the mountain allows you to take in the stunning views of the surrounding city and coastline.
Helicopter Rides In Europe
The continent of Europe contains many breathtaking and scenic locations that can be enjoyed from the air on a helicopter ride or tour. Some of the most spectacular sights to fly over include:
- The Swiss Alps: The Swiss Alps are home to some of the most stunning mountain landscapes in Europe. Helicopter pleasure flights over the Alps will take you over snow-capped peaks, crystal clear lakes, and picturesque villages.
- The French Riviera: The French Riviera is known for its stunning Mediterranean coastline, and a helicopter sightseeing flight of the region allows you to take in the beauty of the beaches and towns along the water.
- The Amalfi Coast: The Amalfi Coast in Italy is home to some of the most breathtaking views in Europe. A thrilling helicopter ride along this world famous coasline allows you to take in the stunning coastal scenery, as well as the charming towns and villages that dot the landscape.
- The Cliffs of Moher: The Cliffs of Moher in Ireland are a natural wonder that is best experienced from above. Helicopter flights along the cliffs allow you to take in the full majesty of this iconic landmark.
- Paris and the Eiffel Tower: The Eiffel Tower is an iconic symbol of Paris, and a helicopter sightseeing flight of the city allows you to experience this famous landmark from a unique perspective.
How To Make The Most Of Your Short Helicopter Ride
You’ve made the booking or someone has given you the gift voucher. Now it’s time to prepare. Obviously much will depend on where and when you’ll be flying and the weather conditions, but as most flights are at low level, most flights can proceed unless there are high winds or fog. Also, a flight over New York City in the winter is completely different to a ride over Wiltshire in the summer, but there are some general rules of thumb to follow.
Here are some tips for making the most of a short helicopter ride:
- Choose a scenic route and plan ahead: If you have the option, choose a route that will take you over not only interesting and beautiful landmarks or landscapes in the area, but also those that you will easily recognise. If there’s time, follow the route on a map first. It will help you to identify landmarks, even the ones that the pilot doesn’t mention.
- Bring a camera: Does anyone travel anywhere without a phone these days? Make sure yours in charged and has enough free storage space for the videos and images you’ll be taking. If you own a camera then the same tip applies.
- Listen to the pilot: The pilot will likely provide some commentary about the sights you are seeing and the history of the area. Make sure to listen and ask any questions you have to learn more about the place you are flying over. Also, mention those you recognise and point out any other aircraft you see in the area.
- Relax and enjoy the ride: Finally, make sure to relax and enjoy the ride. You’re in safe hands and this exciting ride will be over all too soon, so make the most of it.
30 Minute Helicopter Lessons
- A half hour helicopter flight with a pro pilot
- You get to choose from airfields nationwide
- Try basic manoeuvres like pitch and roll
- All lessons include a pre-flight briefing
A Helicopter Ride Or A Gyrocopter Flight – What’s The Difference?
Here’s the technical bit: a helicopter is a type of aircraft that is lifted and propelled by rotors. It is capable of vertical takeoff and landing, and can hover in place. A gyrocopter, also known as a gyroplane or autogyro, is a type of aircraft that is propelled by an engine and has a freely-spinning rotor that is not powered. A gyrocopter relies on the forward motion of the aircraft to keep the rotor turning and to generate lift.
There are several differences between a helicopter ride and a ride in a gyrocopter:
- Speed and maneuverability: Helicopters are generally faster and more maneuverable than gyrocopters.
- Noise: Helicopters can be quite loud, due to the noise of the rotors and engine. Gyrocopters are generally quieter, as the rotor is not powered and generates less noise, but you’ll be wearing a headset in either of them.
- Cost: Helicopter rides can be more expensive than gyrocopter rides, due to the greater cost of operating and maintaining a helicopter.
- Training: Piloting a helicopter requires more training and a higher level of skill than piloting a gyrocopter.
- Passengers: A gyrocopter can usually only accommodate a single passenger, either in tandem seating or side to side. Helicopter rides can include several passengers.