Friday, November 20, 2009

Going to New Heights: A Helicopter Tour

Since seeing Jasmine and Aladdin’s magic carpet ride, I’ve wished for my own way to transcend the physical limitations of gravity. While commercial flying is one of my favorite pastimes, there is something even more extraordinary about the way smaller aircrafts maneuver through the sky like birds. With my mother’s desire to see NYC from a bird’s eye view and my growing fascination with helicopters, a Liberty Helicopter Sightseeing Tour was the perfect opportunity to make both of our dreams come true.

The anticipation that built as we watched the helicopters taking off and landing was inescapable. We were so close but yet it still felt unreal. Walking up to the chopper with the excited danger of the blades circling only a few feet over head was only as familiar as what I had witnessed on TV, but it did grant me a glimpse into the lives of those ballers who hop in their helis to go from location to location.

As if I hadn’t already thought the New York City skyline was great, seeing it from a bird’s eye view certainly added a splash of amazing to the concrete jungle. Gliding along the Hudson River (where the miraculous landing took place) almost felt like a ride in any other plane at first; UNTIL the pilot turned the helicopter around, which felt like we were in a fighter jet showing off a fancy flying pattern. The view down the Hudson was magnificent.

Circling Lady Liberty, soaring right above the rush hour traffic on the Brooklyn Bridge, all with the golden hue of the sunset was a breathtaking experience. (A whole new world would have been the perfect accompaniment; or that song from Reading Rainbow)

And the pilot gets two bonus points for a landing so much smoother than that of a commercial plane. He perfectly positioned the aircraft as if playing a video game and gently perched it down onto the landing pad.

Although there are a number of options, I would certainly recommend Liberty Tours. Everyone was pleasant each step of the way and genuinely encouraging of our helicopter experience. (City Sights NY also offers some great package deals that include bus tours as well as boat tours, but Liberty Tours offers a $15 online discount.)

Life to do list: fly in a helicopter. Check!

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