Three Must-Fly Helicopter Tours
Sydney Helicopters, Hunter Valley Pub Tour
Approx. US $750
This helicopter pub crawl departs from Sydney, Australia — whirling above the city’s famous waterfront for a checklist-notching aerial view of the Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge before soaring into the wild, bucolic yonder of outer New South Wales.
Rosehill Heliport-based Sydney Helicopters’ roster of full-day heli-pub tours includes excursions into the state’s rugged Blue Mountains and Southern Highlands, where multiple touchdowns at out-of-the-way bars and charming country inns factor in enough vintage Aussie drink stops to keep the propellers spinning even when they’re not.
Our top pick is the Hunter Valley Pub Tour, a seven-hour journey into one of the country’s prime, picturesque wine-producing regions.
Highlights along the way include stops at quirky rustic ale houses, boutique wineries and elegant vineyard estates for a wine-paired multi-course gourmet lunch — capped with a late afternoon visit to the historic Settlers Arms Inn in St. Albans for one last pint or two of counter fuel before the curiously blurry ride home.
Orbic Air, Mountain Top Landing Tour in Los Angeles
$349 per person
In sprawling, traffic-choked L.A., sitting pretty above all the tailpipes on Laurel and Coldwater Canyons, Sunset and Sepulveda Boulevards and the Freeway Interchange in a sleek whirlybird is a perch usually reserved for cops and car chase reporters.
Orbic Air’s standard 15 to 25-minute L.A. flyovers lift off from Burbank Airport and cover all the standards — from cool close-ups of the Hollywood Sign to vital views of celebrity home rooftops in Beverly Hills and Bel Air.
For the real California dreamin’ “Romance Package,” Orbic’s Mountain Top Landing Tour covers several Tinseltown landmarks en route to the city’s most natural charms along the coast — featuring a climactic landing on a secluded Malibu plateau with complimentary bubbly, dessert and a rose.
Diamond ring not included.
The London Helicopter, London MAX Tour
Approx. $2,000 (for up to six passengers)
Gazing down upon London’s spectacular cityscape from St Paul’s dome, the London Eye, The Shard, or (at a pinch) a double decker bus seat may be a jolly good start.
Upping the vantage point over 1,000 vertical feet over the River Thames via bright yellow G-ORKI helicopter takes urban sightseeing to an entirely different level.
Lifting off from southwest London’s Battersea Heliport (only recently opened to tourists), The London Helicopter’s London Buzz and London Sights tours cover a range of riverside essentials in and around the city center — from Big Ben and Buckingham Palace to St. Paul’s Cathedral and Canary Wharf. All crammed into 12 or 18 breathless minutes.
The London MAX Tour clocks a full half-hour of airtime, offering private groups of up to six an extended flight-seeing odyssey that includes nearly forty iconic London landmarks.
For an encore, book a package heli-trip from London to Highclere Castle (a.k.a. “Downton Abbey”) or Stonehenge.