About Me

An avid traveler I have had the good fortune to have spent my career in the travel and vacation industry. From Bali to Copenhagen and all points between is where I have been or intend to go. This blog however is specific to the Western half of the United States as I explore this part of the world.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Helicopter Tour of the Grand Canyon

Today we went on a tour of the Grand Canyon from the air... spectacular! We were in an 8 seat Eurocopter EC130 and flew with Maverick helicopter Tours. It was a great time. We started out at the executive airport just past Mandalay Bay on the south strip at about 8:30am. The check in was very smooth and before we could get settled in to our lounge chairs, our pilot Doug was calling our names to walk with him out to the Helo.

The helicopter looked brand new... I didn't ask for flight hours but it looked like it had very few. Sonny and I were fortunate to be in the front seat for the ride out to the Canyon and got a great view of everything on the way out... Including a new perspective on the Hoover Dam.

We traversed the three main sections of Lake Mead and continued on to the Canyon. Seeing how expansive the Lake is by air really makes me want to bring the boat out here from Florida. The water is clear, the fishing is good and there are beaches and hidden coves everywhere.

The Spectacular view came when we rocketed over the edge of the canyon and it went from a flat plain to a deep gorge with the Colorado at the bottom. We flew down the Canyon for some length and then landed near the Canyon floor where picnic tables were laid out for use.

The pilots laid out pastries, champagne, juice and water for all of us. One thing I notices as we floated down for landing was the army of chipmunks that came out of the rocks... standing on their hind quarters, unafraid of the 3 helicopters descending on their homes.

I can only guess it is a Pavlovian reaction to the sounds of the rotors... because surely the tourists feed the little buggers. In fact that theory was proven true by my little experiment... I held a small piece of danish in my hand and the chipmunk closest to me... I think it was Simon, walked right up and took the danish from my hand rather casually... then, after deciding that he had made a good play dashed off before his comrades saw the feast he had garnered.

After eating and enjoying some down time... so to speak, we were up in the air again headed toward a fuel depot located out in the middle of the desert... just a gravel lot, big jet fuel container and nothing else... except the company of a few interesting cactus with a backdrop of mountains.

We flew over what is called the Bowl of Fire among other things and then it was back to Las Vegas... which was fun in and of itself. When we got back I had lost track of time but I think it was around 12:30 or 1:00 and was just the right amount of time as far as I am concerned.

While I was ordering the DVD (they have a camera mounted under the nose that records the whole flight, along with a great playlist all while recording the pilot and passenger commentary) I got the opportunity to do some Spanish translating for the two couples that were in our group. Since I was successful and helped all parties, it was a great end to the trip.

As we left, thanking our pilot Doug and tipping him for a great tour, he suggested that we "come out on the night tour of Las Vegas, the lights are fantastic from the cockpit." I think we probably will...


Victor Ozols said...

I have to admit, that looks like a pretty cool thing to do. It even beats our recent helicopter tour over Northern Virginia, except that I got to take the controls on that one.

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