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.
|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 in Parramatta River with the Iron Cove bridge in the background.|
|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.
|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.
|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.
|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.
|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
I have linked this post to Outsidesuburbia