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A Helicopter Tour In NYC–Everything You Need To Know

Why You Must Take A Helicopter Tour in NYC!

I’ve wanted to ride in a helicopter for a very long time. And during our recent trip to New York City, I finally got that chance thanks to Viator and HeliNY. They made it possible for Jason and I to take a fifteen minute helicopter tour over Manhattan. It was an experience I will not soon forget and now I’m eager to encourage others to do the same.

Our Helicopter Tour Experience

As instructed, we arrived at the Downtown Manhattan Heliport thirty minutes before our flight with HeliNY. After checking in we watched a safety video and then listened as a staff member talked about the next steps. When it was our turn, we lined up at the door and waited to be escorted onto the tarmac.

On the tarmac, my heart was racing as we watched our helicopter land. I’ve always loved flying, but I had no idea how I would feel about a helicopter versus an airplane. We all walked single file to the helicopter and waited as a staff member directed each person where to sit. I was disappointed to be separated from Jason, but then realized I had been assigned to the front seat, next to the pilot. Now I was beyond excited.

Helicopter Tour In NYC
Waiting to board our helicopter

The pilot instructed us to buckle our seatbelts and put on our headphones, and very quickly we took off. Unlike a plane that has a sloping ascent, a helicopter quickly rises vertically. One of our fellow passengers was a bit startled by the quick ascent and let out a squeal, but she soon calmed down and enjoyed the flight.

Almost immediately we flew above the waters of Upper New York Bay to see the Statue Of Liberty and Ellis Island. I was awed by the birdseye view of this quintessential symbol of the U.S. Then the pilot turned and headed up the Hudson River flying parallel to Manhattan. Along the way he pointed out the Empire State Building, the Chrysler Building, Time Square, Madison Garden, and Central Park. Soon he turned back, giving guests on both sides of the helicopter a chance to see these classic sites. Shortly before returning to the heliport, he pointed out the Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Williamsburg Bridges.

And then it was all over. We landed, deboarded, and returned to the tour desk. We gathered our belongings that had been left in a locker and headed outside to call an Uber and go on with our day.

I can’t recommend this tour enough. It is pricey at $229 per person (at time of publication), but in my opinion, it is totally worth it.

Helicopter Tour In NYC--the pilot
Our pilot

Why You Should Book A Helicopter Tour In NYC

Just in case my experience of the tour didn’t convince you, here are a few more reasons.

Great Overview of Manhattan

When my daughter first visited Manhattan many years ago she said, “You can only see up, you can’t see out.” I had been many times, but had never considered this. It really is hard to get an overall view of Manhattan due to the large number of skyscrapers. And while there are observation decks at places like the Empire State Building, Manhattan isn’t easy to fully visualize.

That is, until I took a helicopter tour. I now better understand where the major parts of Manhattan are in relation to each other as well as Brooklyn and Jersey City. And with a beautifully clear, sunny day, the views were perfect.

See All The Sights In Just 15 Minutes

After many trips to New York City, I have seen all the major attractions including the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building, Time Square, the Brooklyn Bridge, and Central Park. But getting to all these attractions takes serious time. If your time is limited, and you just want the highlights, this is a great option.

An Intimate Experience

Our helicopter sat just seven people in addition to the pilot. Unlike the observation decks that may have hundreds of visitors at any time, this was a lovely way to see the city with just a few people. Other than the information occasionally shared by the pilot, there was little noise, making for a very peaceful experience.

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Helicopter Tour In NYC--View of Manhattan
View of Manhattan

A Few Cautions Before You Fly

This is not the experience for people with a fear of heights. Unlike a plane where we can choose to never look out the window, that is simply not possible in a helicopter. You are constantly aware of being suspended 1500 hundred feet in the air.

I was warned by a friend that some people experience motion sickness on a helicopter. No one on our tour felt ill, and the flight is very brief, but if this is a problem for you, a helicopter tour may not be ideal.

There is a possibility of cancellation due to bad weather. For this reason, we booked the tour on our first full day in NYC. This allowed for several options should we need to reschedule.

New York City traffic can be simply awful. So allow plenty of time to get to the heliport which is located in Lower Manhattan.

How To Book A Helicopter Tour In NYC

We booked this tour through Viator, a company I’ve used and trusted for years. It’s very easy.

  1. Click here to book the exact tour we took.
  2. Select your date and number of people
  3. Assuming there’s availability on your date, you’ll next need to select a time.
  4. You have the option to pay at the time of booking or pay later. You can cancel up to 24 hours before your flight.

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This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Jasmina

    This looks like one of the best things to do in NYC – would love to do it!

  2. Linda (LD Holland)

    I love seeing places from a different perspective. And I am sure a helicopter tour of NYC would be something we would love. Getting the front seat is an extra special treat. A fun way to see all the sights.

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