Whilst staying in Las Vegas as part of my honeymoon Sarah and I decided to do something extra special and booked a helicopter tour of the Grand Canyon and Las Vegas strip with Sundance Helicopters. There were several packages available however we booked a flight that included the helicopter landing in the canyon with a Champagne lunch put on by the pilot – amazing!
Now I’m not going to lie, like most people I’d never been in a helicopter before on the ground, let alone a few thousand feet up in the air – I was absolutely bricking it!
As part of our booking we were required to call Sundance 24 hours before our flight. This was to confirm our weights and to ensure the flight was still due to go ahead as planned in case of any bad weather. The phone call was really quick and easy, everything was confirmed and the flight was on.
Limousine pick up from The Aria
On the morning of our flight Sarah and I made our way down to the pick up point situated underneath The Aria where we were staying. The trip included a limousine pick up with other people however seeing the car parked there made the trip feel again, just that extra bit more special.
As we were the last pick up before heading to McCarran International Airport, our driver introduced everyone in the car to each other, explained how things would work when we arrived at the airport and set off.
At the airport, Sundance have a special area set aside for the excursions and the limo dropped everyone off right outside the door – no hassle whatsoever. We took a quick photo with the limo and then headed inside to check in for the flight.
Boarding & safety briefing
Once through the door we were told to check in at the desk and were then given a number. It was then a case of waiting in the large waiting area for our numbers and names to be called. After about 20 minutes the pilots arrived and we were given a safety briefing. This included being given life vests as we were flying over water and being told how to strap ourselves into the helicopter and what to expect from the flight.
Our pilot for the day was a guy called Chuck who was ex-Navy with decades of flight experience behind him – very reassuring for us first time helicopter passengers! Not only that. It he was a really interesting guy full of great stories!
Strapped in and with clearance to take off, Chuck took us up explaining everything about how the helicopter worked and all his controls which for someone a bit techy like myself was really interesting!
Flying over Lake Mead & the Hoover Dam
Setting off from the airport the first stop was flying over Lake Mead and the Hoover Dam. The views of this incredible structure were absolutely stunning and offered a good insight into how much the water levels of Lake Mead and the Colorado river have been dropping in recent years with the very visible water line. We circled around the 221m tall dam so that everyone could take a photo before setting off further along the canyon (unfortunately taking photos through helicopter glass made some of them come out looking a little cloudy).
Flying through the Grand Canyon
Leaving the Hoover Dam behind us our flight continued through the Grand Canyon to the landing site. Along the route there really were some breathtaking views.
There was also the chance to see the Grand Canyon Skywalk which stretches 70 feet out from the rock and sits 2000 feet above the base of the canyon. The scale of the canyon is such that from our helicopter the Skywalk looked tiny!
We also caught some great views of the Colorado river.
Landing in the Grand Canyon
The Grand Canyon is protected and so the helicopters can only land in one very specific location. As we approached the landing site we could see several of the other helicopters in our group already touched down.
With the helicopters all safely landed and engines switched off we were allowed to disembark the aircraft and take some photos.
With plenty of photos taken, lunch was then served by our pilot under the shaded wooden seating area along with a bottle of Champagne. The food was pretty good and our pilot offered some excellent conversation in addition to agreeing with us that Soccer and Football were indeed totally different things!
With lunch done, we jumped into the helicopter to make our way back to the airport via a flight over the Las Vegas strip.
Flight over the Las Vegas strip
Approaching the strip it was quite strange to note that although Las Vegas is quite big, the strip itself is really small. Everything is so spaced out which means when down on the ground it all seems a lot bigger than it really is. Don’t get me wrong, the hotels are enormous however from the air you do get a real sense of the strip sitting in the middle of a vast desert!
From the air we saw all the major hotels including the Stratosphere with its insane rides at the top of the tower…
New York New York and the T-Mobile Arena…
Ceasers Palace and the Bellagio…
Our hotel, The Aria…
The Egyptian themed Luxor…
And finally Mandalay Bay.
As we approached the landing site we then got a really good view back along the strip.
With our feet back on the ground we were given a limouise transfer back to the Aria where we grabbed some lunch and took some time to relax after the flight!
As excursions whilst on holiday go, this was definitely the coolest thing I’ve ever had the chance to do. It’s by far the most expensive thing I’ve done, sure however for me it was completely worth it. This was a trip that I will never forget and will always look back on with great memories as seeing the Grand Canyon has been on my bucket list my entire life – what better way to have done it that this.
Sundance Helicopters managed our whole experience really well and ensured we had a great time. If you’re heading to Vegas and looking for something to do then I would more than recommend this trip, a solid 9/10!