During my recent trip to New York City I had the opportunity to do something I wanted to do for a long time: ride on a helicopter for the very first time. But, even more special, this ride happened to be with the Manhattan skyline as the setting!
Before going to NYC, I got in touch with Cloud9Living, the US leader in experience gifts, and got the ball rolling to add this wonderful experience to my list of achievements during my round the world trip.
Cloud9Living has the goal to forever change the way Americans give gifts by introducing them to the concept of giving an experience rather than a material product. I personally love this idea, since experiences tend to be more memorable than material stuff. Experiences you can remember for life.
In this case, Cloud9Living was kind enough to offer me this helicopter ride experience.
Once I received my “experience voucher”, like any person receiving a Cloud9Living experience would, I went through the booking process in a matter of minutes by filling my information and selecting a few scheduling options in case my preferred date was not available.
In about 24 hours, I got my Ultimate Helicopter Tour schedule confirmed and I was ready to see Manhattan from above! (In all fairness, I booked a New Yorker Helicopter Tour through Cloud9Living, but the helicopter company gave me a free upgrade to their Ultimate Helicopter Tour the day of the experience.)
While Cloud9Living facilitated the booking process (like an experience aggregator), the helicopter ride was done by a separate company (same thing applies to all other experiences). In this case, Helicopter Flight Services, Inc. (HFS) was the one in charge of taking me to the skies.
HFS is located on the heliport in downtown Manhattan and performs flights 7 days a week, year round (weather dependent, of course).
The day of my ride arrived, and to a bit of disappointment, it was raining. Sigh… I wanted to see the beautiful NY skyline with the sun setting and shining against it… But, the bad weather was not going to be a reason for me to not enjoy my first helicopter ride.
At the reception area I was quickly briefed about safety rules and soon enough I was being guided towards the helicopter.
Headphones and mouthpiece on, seatbelt fastened, and I was ready to go!
My very first impression was: Wow, helicopters do vibrate like old washing machines! Not that the helicopter was old, of course! (Have you seen the Family Guy episode when Peter Griffin rides the washer machine? Kinda like that!)
I’m so used to the feeling of “smooth” planes that the though of a helicopter shaking and vibrating never went through my head. Still, the ride was pretty smooth and I stopped noticing the vibration in a matter of minutes (or maybe I got used to it).
From the helicopter I got a fantastic bird’s-eye view of Manhattan’s Skyline, the New York Harbor, the Brooklyn Bridge, and Downtown Manhattan.
From there, we made our way to the Statue of Liberty and got a pretty nice close up view. Then followed Governors Island and Ellis Island, the symbol of American immigration from the late 1800’s to the mid 1900’s.
We followed by going north along the Hudson River, with a contrasting view of New Jersey on the left and Manhattan on the right. The density in Manhattan is just incomparable and so unique – to name a few… The Empire State Building, The Chrysler Building, Rockefeller Center, WTC, Bank Of America Tower, and so on… I love it!
We reached the George Washington Bridge, currently the world’s busiest bridge, and ended up the 20 minutes ride by circling the New Yankee Stadium and returning to the heliport.
Personally this was an experience that met all my expectation, even with the cloudy weather, and showed me a NYC I had never seen before. I do recommend this experience to anyone interested in exploring New York from the sky.
Have you ever flown on a helicopter? How did it feel and where was it?