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Helicopter rides are an incredible way to explore a new city, and whether you’re flying above New York or the Grand Canyon, they offer a pretty adventurous birds eye perspective.

From landscapes to seascapes, and cityscapes, taking a helicopter tour is something that’s now available in most of the world’s major destinations, but it’s not something everyone has done before!

Riding in a helicopter is a bucket-list list experience in and of its own, but it makes a trip to somewhere like New York or London, even more memorable.

So, thinking of booking a helicopter ride?

Here are 6 things you need to know!

6 Things to Know About Helicopter Rides

Weather Makes a Difference!

Helicopter RF

Summers, winters, spring or autumn…?

If you’re confused about the right time to book a helicopter ride, the best thing to do is call the company you’re looking at, and ask them what the experience will be like at the time of year you’re visiting.

Generally, summertime offers a crystal clear sky, with picture-perfect weather making it one of the busiest times of the year for helicopter rides. City life, like that of New York will be bustling, and you’re less likely to experience rain.

However, when it comes to experiencing stunning landscapes while they’re at the epitome of their glory, autumn and spring seal the deal. Summer might have great weather, but think of flying above the bright colors of fall, or the new blooms of spring.

Winter has the downside of more unpredictable weather, though the perk of helicopters over planes, for sightseeing, is that they fly low, so cloud cover shouldn’t obstruct your view, and winter often has a magical beauty of it’s own.

Think of soaring over landscapes blanketed in 20 different layers of snow – and of a city skyline (like New York), completely lit for Christmas – in other words, no season is the wrong season for a helicopter ride!

NYC Wins For Best Location!

Helicopter RF New York City

There are some pretty incredible locations around the world for helicopter rides, from London, to Sydney, and natural wonders like Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, and America’s Grand Canyon.

But for being a fabulous all rounder, New York takes out the win for best location for a helicopter ride!

Other than being an all-rounder in terms of the weather (every season is a good season to helicopter in New York City!), New York is also characterized by a large variety of historic landscapes and landmarks, which makes up the majestic skyline we so often see on postcards and souvenirs.

This ranges all the way from the majestic Statue of Liberty, through to the 150-year-old Brooklyn Bridge and all the way to New York’s favorite Empire State Building.

Companies like Zip Aviation will have a couple of different New York tours though (ie, Liberty Harbor, Grand Island, Big City), so it’s important to decide beforehand exactly what you want to see make your reservations accordingly.

Plan Your Clothes According to the Weather

Helicopter RF

It should go without saying, but it’s definitely important to dress according to the weather on the day of your flight. Being uncomfortable during the flight of your lifetime is not a favorable option; so take this seriously!

During winters, wear a warm coat and multiple layers of clothing for it’s going to be even colder at higher altitudes. However in summer, by contrast, you should aim for loose-fitting clothing to avoid the sweltering heat.

It’s important to wear sunglasses, but also important to make sure they are securely tied behind your head – this avoids them from slipping off throughout the flight.

How Long to Ride?

Depending upon your budget and time constraints, you can choose from a number of different flying options in most destinations. Most places offer a short ride, which normally constitutes a 12-15 min tour, while medium rides will go for up to half an hour.

There are however always tours on offer which go for up to two hours, or even more, so decide how much time you want to spend in the air, and take this into consideration when you make your booking,

Tone Up!

The thing with helicopter rides is that the weight needs to be distributed throughout the vessel in an appropriate manner, in order to uphold the safety codes. Therefore, there is often a weight restriction in most helicopters.

Most weight restrictions require a passenger weigh no more than 110 kg. This is something that may vary from country to country, however it’s worth paying attention to, as there are no refunds if you’ve lied about your weight on booking.

Accurate weight distribution is essential for the aircraft’s safety which is why if you book a tour with your family or significant other, sitting next to each other might not be possible. So this is also something to keep in mind.

Appropriate Camera Prep!

Helicopter RF New York City

A bird’s eye view changes the perspective with which you view even the most mundane of sights. It’s definitely an experience you’ll remember for years to come, so it’s therefore only fitting that you bring a camera along!

The very nature of helicopters mean you’ll be in constant motion, so you’re likely to be clicking hundreds of photos, to look through later, so you can choose the best ones.

Because you take more photos than normal on these type of tours, make sure you have enough storage, and also enough battery. If you’re heading on a multi hour tour, consider packing extra SD cards and batteries.

Have you ever been on a helicopter ride? Tell us about it in the comments!

Megan is an Australian Journalist and award-winning travel writer who has been blogging since 2007. Her husband Mike is the American naturalist and wildlife photographer behind Waking Up Wild; an online magazine dedicated to opening your eyes to the wonders of the wild & natural world.

Having visited 50+ countries across all seven continents, Megan’s travels focus on cultural immersion, authentic discovery and incredible journeys. She has a strong passion for ecotourism, and aims to promote responsible travel experiences.



  1. I don’t willingly speak about a ‘bucket list’ but a helicopter ride would be clearly on it. And somewhere near the top, too. It’s the kind of activity I postpone to when I get older. Maybe I shouldn’t…

    • I’m all about taking opportunities in life now, as we’re never guaranteed a tomorrow :) Definitely if you have the chance to experience the joy of a helicopter ride now I would say go for it!

      Thanks for reading :)

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