Words cannot do justice to the surreal and sensational experience that is taking a helicopter ride over Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon. So I am going to try and let my pictures do the talking.
This helicopter ride was the most expensive activity we undertook in Las Vegas but it is certainly one of the most memorable. We chose the Golden Eagle Air Tour from Papillon as they fly from Las Vegas, as opposed to the airfield near the Canyon that a lot of other operators run from, so that we could spend more time in the air and get a glimpse of the Strip. Our package included a limo pick up from the hotel and as we were staying at the MGM Grand we were only a 5 minute ride away from the terminal.
At check in it is not your baggage that is weighed but you. You need to input your weight when you book the ride and this is checked when you arrive at the flight centre. The helicopters need to be carefully balanced so your seats are assigned according to weight distribution – a bit awkward but at least there is no fighting over the window seat as you are all simply told where to sit.
You watch a brief safety video in the lounge before boarding the chopper which takes 6 passengers at a time. Seatbelts and noise-cancelling head phones safely secured we were airbourne in next to no time.
The ride was extremely smooth, taking off with what seemed like little effort. Jameson, our pilot, had a microphone which connected to all our headsets so he could take us through what we were viewing below. After swinging past the Strip we headed out across Lake Mead, past Hoover Dam and over the seemingly endless desert until it suddenly parted, like Moses and the Red Sea, into an unbelievably deep canyon.
We spent 1 hour 20 in the air, staring agog out the window the whole time. As the landscape changes from residential neighbourhoods to glassy lake and then that rusty, red rock the view just gets more and more sensational.
On the way back into the city we headed to Downtown Vegas and flew along the length of the Strip. This section seemed to pass way too fast for me who wanted to try and capture the scale and audacity of every one of the mammoth hotels that have popped up in this desert.
If you are a first timer in Vegas and can find the budget I wholeheartedly recommend taking to the skies and flying the Canyon.
We booked the Golden Eagle Air Tour with Papillon via their website for a fee of $618 for two. Prices vary according to time of day and length of flight.