I couldn’t imagine a more surreal and romantic way to experience the greatest city in America than by flying over it in a helicopter.
There were a ton of firsts for me during my recent trip to New York City.
For starters, it was my FIRST time in the Big Apple. It also happened to be my first time in a helicopter.
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Despite my frequent departures on commercial aircraft, nothing compares to the thrill of a Helicopter ride.
It’s smaller, flies lower, and has floor to ceiling windows.
For the first time, I truly felt like I was flying.
With so many helicopter tours in NYC available, you would think it would be difficult to decide on one, however, that was not the case.
Before beginning the search, I had a few musts on my Helicopter Tour list:
Must have large windows to ensure maximum views
The longer the flight the better
Can’t cost an arm and a leg
As soon as we (my boyfriend and I) came across HeliNY, we knew it was the one!
Here’s my experience flying over NYC on a helicopter tour with HeliNY.
What to Expect on a Helicopter Ride
Turbulence: If you are prone to motion sickness, take a Dramamine beforehand.
Unless you are booking an open-door helicopter ride then you will only be able to take photos through the helicopter windows.
Honestly, they are so big you won’t have a problem. Keep your camera at a wide depth of field to capture clear details. Yes, you will need your own camera.
Noise Levels: Don’t expect to be chatting with other passengers so easily. It’s rather loud during the flight. You will have to wear a headset for when the pilot talks.
You can all talk and hear each other on the headset, but as I mentioned, this is a tour and the pilot will be doing most of the talking.
Don’t expect to get a window seat on a large tour. The tour I was on had three to a row, which meant someone was out of window seat luck.
That’s something to keep in mind when choosing the right tour. More on that to come in a bit.
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What to Wear on Your Flight
Fitted Clothing: If you’re wearing a ton of layers you might get uncomfortable after being restrained in your seat belt.
Warmish Attire: I wore a long sleeve flannel over my tee and was completely fine. You want to be warm and comfortable.
There’s one exception to this rule. If you are flying in the winter months, you will get colder than usual during the flight. Some gloves and jacket will be needed.
Dark clothing: Since you will be shooting through a glass window, you’re prone to REFLECTIONS! If you’re wearing bright, colorful clothes it will stand out in your photos.
Picking the Best Heliny Tour
The booking process was easy-peasy.
They have a wonderful website that makes finding information about the flight available with comparison tools and prices.
They even go as far as introducing you to their fleet.
You can read about all their different helicopters and what they each offer from safety features to maintenance.
They had plenty of flight times available throughout the day with the ability to change booking times if needed.
HeliNY offers 4 different tours – each one giving you a different experience.
The New Yorker Tour:
Lower end around $215 with a 15-minute flight duration
If you want to basically go up and come down this tour is for you.
Although I feel 15 minutes is a waste of money.
My con with this package is the short flight time.
The Ultimate Tour:
Moderate end around $260 per person with a 20-minute flight duration.
In my opinion, this is a little better. You get 20 minutes of flight time for not that much more.
If you’re coming all this way, might as well get your monies worth.
The Deluxe Tour:
High end around $350 with a 30-minute flight duration.
I’ll admit we splurged on this first time experience. Totally worth it.
We saw everything and never felt like it ended too soon. Perfect amount of flight time.
VIP Air & Sea Tour:
$250 New Yorker Tour + 1-hour harbor cruise
This is a great deal if you are looking to experience NYC from both the air and water.
I was shopping for an air experience which is why I passed on this.
Word of advice:
From what I can tell, they are always running specials and discounted rates.
Keep an eye out for deals before booking, or give them a call. Don’t prematurely book without asking for deals first.
Groupon has been known to offer discounts for them too.
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Before boarding, they had us throw any excess items in a secured locker.
From there we lined up and went over the safety procedures.
At this moment, I had butterflies in my stomach.
My boyfriend and I laughed at the fact we have been on so many airplanes but suddenly found ourselves a little nervous for a helicopter tour.
Once we walked outside, we were instructed to follow the specific walkway. Honestly, you wouldn’t want to stray from it anyways.
The propellers are so big, so intimidating.
The final step before boarding was getting our picture taken from one of the workers, which brings me to my only con.
They will not let you take your own picture outside the helicopter. I find it to be a little ridiculous.
After all, we are spending hundreds of dollars to be here, and you won’t let us snap a photo.
Instead, they charge a hefty $25 for a photo. C’mon.
However, all was forgotten the moment I boarded.
The Flight Experience
Now for the juicy details. The actual flight experience!
I was a little nervous when we were taking off.
Not only could I feel every movement as we lifted off, but I could also see right below my feet.
Then again that’s what we were hoping for.
Once in the air, the pilot got everyone acquainted with each other and began the tour.
Flying over each borough (Queens, Brooklyn, Bronx, Manhattan, Staten Island) that makeup NYC, the pilot shared fun facts and history for each.
He did so in a comical fashion making it that much better.
I couldn’t think of a better way to learn about New York City while capturing some amazing photos! Overall the flight was smooth sailing, but remember. . . . If you are prone to motion sickness, take a Dramamine beforehand.
If you are planning to visit NYC, book your helicopter tour with HeliNY.
Psst. . . Looking for more THRILLING adventures? Check out these posts:
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The Absolute Best Islands in Thailand for Backpackers to Visit
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Have you ever been in a Helicopter? Share your experience in the comments below!
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The HeliNY tour looks like a good option! I don’t know if I’d be a little nervous to get in the helicopter; like you said, you’re so close to the propellers! I’ll remember this tour if I go back to NYC!
Wow this is the ultimate dream come true! I would love to fly in a helicopter one day… and if it s above NY even better. I absolutely agree with you that 25$ dollar for a photo is way too much. views are stunning though
Right?! I was a little irritated but then quickly forgot haha
What a great way to combine firsts! I’ve been to NYC many times, but not taken a birds eye view from a helicopter ride. Such an iconic city though, and you got some truly fabulous shots from above! Thanks for the tip on HeliNY, and on scoping out the net for a deal first. Groupon is my favorite website, so I’ll keep an eye out for that – definitely weird that they don’t let you take a photo in front of the helicopter – I agree, you’re paying hundreds of dollars to be there, so just snap a photo for us!! The flight overall sounds fabulous though – I’ll make sure it’s on my list on my next trip.
What? You really can’t take your own photos? I was all onboard until that part. I love seeing places from the air and taking photos of the experience. Still I’m glad you had an amazing experience regardless. I guess it’s one of those times you can say you lived in the moment, with no distractions 🙂
We’re heading to NYC for the first time in May! I’ve never been in a helicopter and I’m worried about motion sickness! But, man, this looks like a cool tour!
Honestly, I get motion sick all the time. I popped a Dramamine 30 minutes before and was totally fine.
What an amazing way to see NYC. I’ve been to the city many times but never had the opportunity to take a helicopter ride. Adding to my bucket list!
You won’t regret it.
The view of New York from above seems absolutely smashing. I particularly enjoyed the photograph of the one with the Statue of Liberty. Your tips will certainly come in handy for anyone considering a Helicopter tour.
Awe thank you. I appreciate the kind words.
Amazing! I cannot WAIT to return to NYC and try out a helicopter ride. What detailed research you’ve done. Thank you for sharing the information within this article. It will come in handy for choosing the right ride for us!
You’re going to love it! Thank you for the feedback.