As our helicopter rose into the air, I was blown away by the breathtaking view of the beautiful New York City skyline. I was on the awesome helicopter tour of the Big Apple and it was truly a surreal experience!
“The Ultimate Tour” by Helicopter Flight Services
There are several companies offering helicopter tours of New York City, but we decided to go with Helicopter Flight Services (HeliNY.com), as it has the best reviews among all the companies on TripAdvisor. The prices are slightly more expensive, but it has very well-trained pilots and modern well-maintained helicopters.
We went for The Ultimate Tour ($244), which is the most popular tour of HeliNY.com. This tour included views of the Statue of Liberty, Governors Island, Ellis Island, Brooklyn Bridge, George Washington Bridge, New Jersey Palisades, Yankee Stadium (on non game days), Columbia University, and many many more!
How to Book the Helicopter Tour
It is really easy to book your New York City helicopter tour with Helicopter Flight Services. Simply go to the booking page at Heliny.com and select your preferred tour. We recommend going for The Ultimate Tour as it is the most popular package. Personally, I felt that the duration of this tour was just right and we saw many beautiful landmarks during our flight.
Arriving at the Downtown Manhattan Heliport!
We arrived at the Downtown Manhattan Heliport at about 9.30am. We had booked the 10am helicopter tour but were told via email by the company that we needed to arrive half an hour earlier to check-in for the tour.
When we reached, we were promptly escorted by the Helicopter Flight Services staff (wearing red) into the building to proceed with our check-in and security check.
Before we were able to board the helicopter, the staff checked our bags and instructed us to keep them in the complimentary lockers. They also checked our passports. After that, we were each told to step onto a weighing scale. This was presumably to determine our seating position on the helicopter; heavier passengers would sit in the center while lighter individuals would sit on the sides. Lastly, we were each issued a small inflatable life jacket which we wore around our waist.
Professional Pilot in a Modern Helicopter
And finally, we were able to leave the building and make our way to the launchpad where our helicopter was waiting! It was my first helicopter experience, therefore I was both excited and slightly nervous. As I stepped out of the building, I was taken aback by the loud noise of the rotating helicopter blades, as well as the resulting strong air drafts. There were probably about four or five helicopters out here!
I quickly took some photos of the awesome-looking helicopters while waiting to board. After a short while, it was our turn and the heliport staff shouted at us (not because he was angry but because of the surrounding loud noise) to proceed towards our helicopter. There were five of us in the group and the staff escorted us quickly to the helicopter.
Luckily for me and Raevian, we got window seats on the side of the helicopter. We quickly put on the cool looking pair of noise-cancelling Bose headphones which blocked out the noise almost completely. The attached microphone also allowed us to communicate with each other and the pilot.
I loved our helicopter! The interior was very new and well-furnished with clean leather upholstery. Most importantly, the pilot was extremely professional and made us feel very safe throughout the entire tour. He also explained to us about the various attractions in detail during the flight.
An Awesome Way to See the Big Apple!
And so our helicopter took off to begin our much-anticipated helicopter tour! As it rose into the air, the New York City skyline slowly came into view and it was simply beautiful. This was definitely a less seen view of the Big Apple.
Our first attraction of the tour was the scenic Governors Island, a former military base with much historic significance. It has lush green fields and we also saw neat rows of charming houses which once served as houses for military officers.
From here, we managed to see the famous Brooklyn Bridge, one of the oldest suspension bridge in New York City that was completed in 1883. It spans the East River between Manhattan and Brooklyn.
In the distance, we spotted the Verrazano–Narrows Bridge, across the expansive Lower New York Bay. This is the longest suspension bridge in the Americas, connecting Staten Island and Brooklyn.
Statue of Liberty
Next was the Statue of Liberty, the iconic landmark of New York City that everyone has to see. And we were even luckier to see it from an aerial vantage point! It was quite an emotional moment for me because I had only seen the statue on television and other media outlets since young, and it was truly surreal to see it with my own eyes.
After that, the helicopter flew back towards Lower Manhattan, where we caught sight of Battery Park, a 25-acre public park named for the artillery batteries that were positioned there to protect the area.
One World Trade Center
The helicopter flew further inland where we got a closer look of the former Ground Zero site. It was cool to fly past the new One World Trade Center which towers over the rest of the buildings. It is the sixth-tallest building in the world. We also managed to see the National September 11 Memorial, which comprises two huge man-made waterfalls constructed at the footprints of the original Twin Towers.
Next, we spotted one of the most famous parks in the world, the Central Park. This is a beautiful urban park that covers about 843 acres of city-owned land. The park has an amazing neat rectangular shape which can only be seen from an aerial vantage point.
George Washington Bridge
From Central Park, we flew further up the Hudson River, where we saw the George Washington Bridge, a suspension bridge spanning Hudson River that connects Manhattan and New Jersey. This is the world’s busiest motor vehicle bridge!
Empire State Building
From George Washington Bridge, our helicopter turned around for the flight back towards the heliport. Along the way, I was delighted to see the iconic Empire State Building, a building that I had dreamed of seeing since young!
Goldman Sachs Tower
By now, we were reaching the end of our helicopter tour. We saw the Goldman Sachs Tower, located on the coast in Jersey City, New Jersey. Interestingly, when this building was completed in 2004, many of the hubristic Goldman staff refused to move here from Wall Street due to its less than convenient location. We also spotted the large Colgate Clock below the building.
South Street Seaport
Finally, we arrived back at the aerial space above the heliport. From here, we saw our last landmark of the tour, the South Street Seaport. This is a commercial area that has some of the oldest architecture in Manhattan, along with tourist malls.
The above are just some of the attractions we saw! There were many other attractions which we did not manage to take pictures of.
Directions to Downtown Manhattan Heliport
The heliport is located on Pier 6 on South Street. It is a big gray cement building with a large clock on its facade. The easiest way to get here is by subway. There are several ways to do so.
Method 1: Take the “R” to “Whitehall Street.” Walk east to South Street. Next, walk north along the East River. The heliport will be on your right.
Method 2: Take the 2 or 3 train to “Chambers Street” and transfer to the 1 “South Ferry.” Walk north along the East River (head towards the tall green building). The heliport will be on your right.
Method 3: Take 4 or 5 train to “Bowling Green”. Walk towards the Staten Island Ferry and make a left onto South Street. The heliport will be on your right.
Important Things to Take Note
1. Remember to bring your passport for the security check.
2. All bags are subject to inspection.
3. Bags of any kind (including purses) are not allowed on the helicopter. You can store these in complimentary lockers at the heliport.
On the whole, we enjoyed ourselves very much during the short helicopter tour by Helicopter Flight Services (HeliNY.com). It was an awesome way to see the various attractions of New York! The ride was very comfortable because our helicopter was new, spacious, and clean. It was also a very informative tour because the pilot explained about the attractions in detail as we flew past them. I highly recommend this tour if you are in New York City!
Helicopter Flight Services (HeliNY.com)
Address: Downtown Manhattan Heliport, Pier 6 East River New York, NY 10004
Online Booking: https://heliny.com/book-now/
Phone Reservation: 1 (212) 355-0801