Tuesday, 1 December 2015

Helicopter Flightseeing - Sydney, Australia

Helicopter flightseeing Sydney
There are some things you have to do just once in a lifetime. Helicopter flightseeing above Sydney Harbour has been top of my wishlist for quite a while and a few days ago I got the chance to tick it off. Thanks to Adrenalin, David and I took a half-hour private helicopter tour over Sydney with Helicopter Transport and Training (HTT). Did the tour live up to our expectations? Yes!! - and exceeded them, by about 1000%. The only problem is, I want to do it again, and again and again. I think I'm hooked.

I had never flown in a helicopter before, but I have been in many small planes and I expected it to feel much the same. It didn't! We flew in an R44. Tim, who greeted us on arrival, described the R44 as the 4-door sedan of choppers. As we took off, I understood exactly what he meant. One minute we were on the tarmac chatting to Greg, our pilot, and the next we were floating a few feet in the air. It was like being in an expensive limousine mounted on a 'back-to-the-future' hover-board. There was no revving of engines, no hurtling down the runway to gain enough speed for take-off, no need for silent prayers as we struggled to gain height - just a gentle lift upwards on a cushion of air. We hovered for a few moments, long enough to get used to the idea that we were no long connected to the ground and then climbed gently skyward.

Helicopter flightseeing Sydney
The city skyline, the Opera House and Circular Quay. I'm pretty pleased with this photo. D thinks he took it but I'm sure it's mine!
Our flight path took us from Bankstown Airport in Sydney's south-west, north to Parramatta. From there we turned east and followed Parramatta River to where it opens out and joins with Sydney Harbour.  Parramatta River winds past a myriad of bays, coves and inlets all of which were magnificent in the Sydney sunshine. The riverside mansions and houses below looked like a jumble of brightly coloured lego scattered across the landscape. From our vantage point at an altitude of 500 ft we could see every detail. Greg gave us a running commentary of the sights and we were able to pick out many of the places we had cycled, walked, visited and even lived. The path we regularly cycle next to the river was clearly visible.

Spectacle Island, Parramatta River, Sydney
Spectacle Island in Parramatta River with the Iron Cove bridge in the background.


Gladesville Bridge from above
Coming up Parramatta River toward Gladesville Bridge

As we flew east the helicopter rolled a few degrees giving us our first sight of the Harbour Bridge from what felt like a 45 degree angle.  I had expected to be thrilled at this sight and I wasn't disappointed. Even David, one of the world's great talkers, was speechless as we skimmed the top of the bridge and flew out over the main harbour.


Helicopter Flightseeing SydneyHarbour
Our first sight of the Bridge. I could have straightened this photo but left it alone so you could see how much fun the view was.

The R44 has two seats at the front, including the pilot's seat, and two at the back. David and I chose to sit together in the back. With a glass dome at the front and large windows on each side we had almost uninterrupted 180-degree views.

Sydney Harbour Bridge from above
Heading east toward the Harbour Bridge after we levelled off.

Beyond the Bridge we flew above some of Sydney's most expensive harbourside suburbs and got a birds-eye view of the Prime Minister's official Sydney residence, Kirribilli House and its next door neighbour, Admiralty House. Continuing east we passed Darling Point and Point Piper until we looped around above Shark Island and came back toward Circular Quay and the Opera House. As we neared the Bridge again we hovered, suspended in mid-air for a few breathtaking moments before heading for home, back along the Parramatta River. As we flew above them we waved to a group of Bridge Climbers, not envying them for a second. We had a view a thousand times better.

View of Sydney Harbour Bridge from helicopter
My favourite photo. It gives you an idea of just how close we got to the Bridge. The blue dots in the centre bottom of the picture are Bridge Climbers.

A little more than thirty minutes after take-off we were back on the ground at Bankstown - with the memories of a lifetime. Whether you are a Sydney resident or a visitor, this has to be the one thing you should not miss doing in Sydney.

R44 helicopter
Our '4-door sedan' - R44. Look carefully and you can see my handbag on the front seat. What is it about women that we can't go anywhere without our handbags.

Tips and Tricks and things to know: -

Bankstown Airport or Sydney Airport

  • Bankstown Airport, 25 kilometres south-west of the city, is further from the CBD than Sydney Airport. Consequently you spend more time in the air - a definite plus if, like me, a big part of the experience you want is the sheer fun of being in a helicopter.
  • Bankstown is also much smaller than Sydney Airport. Provided you have a car, it is easy to get to, easy to negotiate once you are there and a whole lot easier to park -  HTT have free parking next to their private lounge.
Helicopter or light plane
  • Light planes are not built for flightseeing: the front instrument panel is too high to see over, especially if you are seated in the back, and the side windows are always too small. The R44 helicopter had brilliant visibility - it was like sitting in a glass bubble with perfect, uninterrupted views.
  • Helicopters can fly a lot more slowly than light planes. The most thrilling moments of the flight were when we paused and hovered above Sydney Harbour Bridge. Fortunately none of the light planes we have ever been in have paused to take in the view.
Would I recommend this?  - Absolutely!!

Prices and reservations - For prices and reservations go to adrenalin.com.au - click on 'Flying Experiences' in the left-hand side drop down menu, then click on 'Helicopter ride' and choose the one you want. To navigate to the HTT flight click - here

Note: David and I received our flight courtesy of Adrenalin and HTT.

I have linked this post to Outsidesuburbia

58 comments:

  1. Helicopters are not for me, but what stunning scenery! I could be tempted....

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    1. I thought I would be scared. David is afraid of heights and that has rubbed off on me over the years but I wasn't scared for a moment, neither was D - it was just so exhilarating.

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  2. How thrilling!
    Wonderful photos.
    Thanks for linking up at http://image-in-ing.blogspot.com/2015/11/sparkling-crystal.html

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    1. Those photos are going to get used over and over in my Sydney posts from now on - lol.

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  3. What a way to Sydney Harbour.
    I get air sick in small planes. I noted that you said the helicopter didn't feel the same as a small plane, but did it bounce you around and make your stomach feel as if it was left behind?

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    1. Haha - I get sea-sick on the Manly ferry. I took a couple of Kwells before the flight. If you get motion sick it would be sensible even though it didn't feel like we were bouncing around.

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  4. Don't like the idea of a helicopter but I do like the photos! Come link up with me at http://nanahood.com/cute-clothes-for-grandchildren

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    1. I just loved the helicopter. It was the most amazing feeling.

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    2. Gregory gave to my wife and myself a tour. what an amazing experience. Thank you Gregory. Thank you HTT !!!!! Do we recommend it? Yes Yes Yes.

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    3. It is great to hear someone else enjoyed the experience as much as we did. Thanks for letting us know.

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  5. Ohhhhhh that sounds just amazing. I've never been in a helicopter either, definitely on my bucket list. I'm thinking maybe a scenic joyflight over the Gold Coast for my next birthday :-) .

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    1. We found that flying over somewhere you know - I assume you live near the Gold Coast - makes the experience all that more fantastic. Of course flying over the Harbour Bridge and the Opera House would be amazing even if we didn't live in Sydney.

      If you want to do a joyflight I suggest you check out Adrenalin. The link is in my post. Adrenalin's prices seem to be cheaper than booking direct and they have experiences all around Australia.

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  6. Sydney looks amazing from the air. I'd love to do it, if not only for the awesome photos I could take, but I'm a bit petrified of helicopters. I went in one as a small child and I think it scared me {I'm sure they're much better now} #teamIBOT

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    1. I honestly thought I would be scared but it was just such a great experience I wasn't scared at all.

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  7. That's a great experience!
    You took beautiful pictures!

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    1. It was just fantastic. David says he took all the really good pictures and unfortunately I'm inclined to agree with him - maybe I was just too busy enjoying myself - lol.

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  8. Great photos, but the bridge is my favourite too. It would be an amazing flight with no noise. Half an hour is quite a long time in a chopper!

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    1. You're right half and hour is much longer than a lot of joy flights you see around the world. We have always steered away from the 10-minutes tourist flights. We did our homework though and went with HTT partly because the flights were so long.

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  9. wow, that is so cool. great views and photos.

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  10. Sounds like great fun and the view is amazing. I took a helicopter ride over the Grand Canyon and it was magical!

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    1. That does sound like a great place to fly over.

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  11. I have never been on a helicopter, so, I think I would be a little bit scared before boarding one. But, like you, I think I would be hooked on the views. They are wonderful!

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    1. It is worth doing just once in your life. Of course, having done it once, now I want to do it again - lol.

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  12. Totally amazing. I would love to do this some day (expect for the part where I tend to get sick in helicopters). The photos are incredible. It's a beautiful city from the ground, but even better from the air.

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    1. Haha- I get more motion sick than anyone else on the planet. I just took a couple of Kwells beforehand. As a photographer you would love it.

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  13. Great photos - I really like the one of the Harbour Bridge coming into view.

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    1. I had so many fantastic photos it was hard to decide which ones to publish.

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  14. Absolutely stunning views, Lyn. Kudos on the photos too!

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    1. I was pretty pleased with the photos. I couldn't tell you the number of friends who ask me what camera I use. It's almost embarrassing to admit that it is just a little point and shoot.

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  15. Oh I'm so jealous Lyn. A helicopter tour over Sydney would be amazing. Your photos are beautiful - love the one YOU took of the Opera House, Botanic Gardens and the City skyline :-)

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    1. Haha - You have made me laugh at your use of capitals. Years ago David and I had a photo published in one of the glossy travel magazines and we are still arguing over who took it - but the arguments are all good-natured. You know what men are like -they take the credit for everything - lol.

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  16. Wonderful photos of your views of Sydney! I've wanted to visit for a long time and seeing these photos made me want to be there even sooner. Australia looks gorgeous and fascinating!

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    1. I can highly recommend a helicopter flightseeing trip if you do visit.

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  17. Sydney is the perfect city for a helicopter fly over. It is scenically abundant and one of the most picturesque cities in the world in my opinion.

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    1. I absolutely agree. I have lived in Sydney almost all my life. I have no idea why I haven't done a helicopter flight before. Maybe all the travel is making me appreciate home.

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  18. I think I might have to do heli sightseeing one day. Just a bit scared of taking off in a helicopter :), and it sounds very expensive! But amazing views, I assume :)

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    1. I thought I would be scared but the helicopter rose into the air so slowly I wasn't scared at all. We were about ten feet up and just hovering before I even realised we had left the ground. David and I were given complimentary tickets but it would have cost a lot less than I expected. We investigated taking a helicopter in Alaska earlier this year and it was much much more expensive so I guess it depends where you are.

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  19. I think helicopter tours are a great way to see a place and you've got just the perfect day for such a flight. I went on a helicopter tour in Alaska and loved it. I thought it would be scary, but it wasn't. Sydney looks so beautiful, I wish I could visit it. Thank you for joining #TheWeeklyPostcard.

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    1. If you do ever decide to come to Sydney, look me up and I will show you around.

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  20. Stunning! I agree 100% with you. I have to do this. I'm not sure where....someplace like Rio, maybe, but Sydney looks awesome too!

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    1. I don't think I could get David on a helicopter in Sth America. He doesn't quite trust their ability to stay in the air. Australia has very stringent air safety regulations which was a great comfort to both of us.

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  21. Helicopter tours always look amazing. I'm no sure I'd keep my eyes open to see anything. I'm not great with open heights. we did do a scenic flight over the grand canyon though, and I was OK with that. Thanks for visiting #wkendtravelinspiration

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    1. I'm normally a bit bit nervous in light planes but this flight was so amazing I wasn't scared at all.

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  22. Wow! Such a fantastic experience. I haven't been in a helicopter, but I would love to do this over my home city of New York. Your photos are incredible. Thanks for sharing!

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    1. I have a feeling the people we organised the flight through 'Adrenalin' have a US presence. You could try googling their website. Doing a helicopter trip over our home city made the experience so much better because we were able to pick out lots of familiar places. It gave me a renewed appreciation for my how beautiful Sydney is.

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  23. What an absolutely awesome experience and, until now, I'd never really given thought to taking a helicopter tour should the opportunity ever present itself. I get airsick, car sick and boat and ferry sick occasionally but a ride on a helicopter would be worth it for the sunning views. Thanks for the virtual tour and yes, I liked the picture that you didn't straighten out - definitely gave me a feel for your ride!

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    1. I know what you mean about getting airsick. I have had severe motion sickness all my life. The ride wasn't bumpy but I didn't take any chances. I took a motion sickness tablet before the ride.

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  24. What a wonderful place to go on a helicopter ride and what amazing photos you got! I've done helicopter rides in Kauia and Fiji and think they're fabulous. Keep on spinning!

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    1. This might have been my first time in a helicopter but I am determined not to make it my last - it was so much fun.

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  25. I always hate the idea of helicopters but they do give such an amazing view and perspective when you're up there. You've again reminded me of what an outstandingly beautiful city Sydney is and how much I'd like to return for a visit.

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    1. I had no idea how fantastic the view would be until we did this. I know Sydney is lovely but the view was just stunning.

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  26. I don't think I could have dealt with the top of the Sydney Harbor Bridge being that close. It doesn't help that crashes involving helicopters seem to happen too frequently in the US for my liking. We also had a helicopter and a small airplane crash directly over one of the primary schools in our township, killing 2 children on the ground, one of whom we knew. It was in 1991, but I think I still have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder from it. (Please forgive this maudlin comment. You obviously enjoyed your experience and got some great photos.)

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    1. There is no doubt that you take a risk going up in a helicopters and light planes but there is probably some statistic out there that you are more likely to be killed by a vending machine. We have the occasional helicopter crash in Oz but safety standards are very strict here and we wouldn't have anything like the number of light aircraft in the skies at any given time that you would in the States so crashes are not something you hear about very often. I think I would have been more scared doing the Bridge Climb - lol.

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  27. I went on a scenic flight over Sydney with Adrenalin 4 years ago and loved it. The view was absolutely amazing. The Sydney Harbour from the air perspective is absolutely a must-do-thing.

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    1. It is great to hear that other people enjoyed this as much as I did.

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  28. Looks awesome, probably I'll do it in Sydney!

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    1. I can highly recommend booking through Adrenalin. They have some great deals.

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