Check Out My Flight Over The Capital!

Check Out My Flight Over The Capital!

Helicopter flights were once just for the rich and famous. Us mere mortals never got a look in and today it’s still a popular mode of transport amongst the wealthy. However, as I have demonstrated on this website there are a selection of shared helicopter sightseeing tours available. By paying for just one seat instead of the entire aircraft it makes the experience much more affordable and it’s a great way to get a taste of the high life.

Having written all about these tours decided to send me up in a whirlybird over the nation’s capital to get a first hand glimpse at what this experience is like. It was very kind of them and of course I would have been foolish to decline that kind of offer.

My flight took off from Elstree in North London on 25th August 2013. It was delayed by a couple of hours due to a mist that wouldn’t budge. Eventually though the green light was given and happily I was on the first flight to take-off. The flight was shared with a pilot (phew!) and a husband and wife couple who has never flown before. I’ve been up in a helicopter flight twice before (ooh, look at me!) over the Pembrokeshire National Park and in the states in Orlando, Florida. I knew what it would feel like and what to expect. Naturally the couple behind me (yep – I was lucky enough to bag the front seat in the 4-seater Robinson R44 helicopter) were a little apprehensive. The pilot was awesome in offering comforting and reassuring words of advice, and he did his utmost to create a friendly and humorous atmosphere on-board.

Take off was swift and within a matter of seconds we were at cruising height, at around 900 feet. It was high enough to get a goods birds eye view but low enough that we could still see everything clearly. From Elstree we crossed the M1 and head towards the London Olympic Park. The day before I had visited Westfield Shopping Centre and only just caught a glimpse of Sir Anish Kapoor’s red Orbit tower thanks to the pouring rain. Flying over the Olympic stadium, Queen Elisabeth Olympic Park, the Orbit tower and the other remaining Olympic venues was amazing.

From there we headed towards Greenwich, passing the famous O2 arena (formerly the Millennium Dome) and the Emirates Air Line cable car experience. We then followed the River Thames passing the Cutty Sark and continuing on right up to London Bridge. In the distance we could just make out the London Eye whilst nearby we had an excellent view over and around The Shard. We turned around and followed the River Thames back along to the O2 Arena, passing the City of London and Canary Wharf buildings often seen in news footage. We gazed over buildings such as 30 St Mary Axe (the Gherkin) and 8 Canada Square (the HSBC Tower) as we meandered above the River. Once we were back near London City Airport we headed back to Elstree, again crossing the Olympic Stadium. It was amazing to see how quickly we went from built-up inner London to lush green countryside and reservoirs.

I recorded the entire 30 minute flight on my camera and the technology wizards at have edited the footage into something more manageable for YouTube:

I also managed to record the next flight taking off in the helicopter we flew over London in:

Overall, this experience was amazing. It would have cost around £125 for a seat and I’d say it was worth every penny if I had bought the experience myself. It was a bit annoying being delayed a couple of hours as I had planned a meeting afterwards and had to push this back, but all helicopter flights are at the mercy of the weather anyway so this couldn’t be helped. The front seat next to the pilot was certainly a great place to be thanks to the rounded design of the window. Personally if I had flown with my wife I would have preferred the rear two seats instead. As the helicopter flew the same route in and out of London you get to see the same sights on both sides of the helicopter.

Oh – it’s also worth noting that the nervous couple sat behind me were elated with the whole experience. Once up in the sky they were both as cool as a cucumber and very calm and relaxed proving anyone can do it!

If I were buying this experience as a gift I’d buy look at buying it for parents, brothers and sisters either as a birthday present or as a Christmas present. It’s an amazing experience and you’ll never look at London in the same way again! In fact once you’ve been up in a helicopter you may well be looking to have a go flying one next time!

You can find out more about London sightseeing helicopter flights here. There are several take-off locations available and each one will have a different itinerary to follow. My experience can be used as a guide of what to expect to see from a North London take-off point but each flight path may be different depending upon circumstances that day.

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DISCLOSURE: I received one free ticket for a London sightseeing helicopter flight from I paid for transport and accommodation. The views above are my own.