Take Flight – A Whirlybird’s Eye View of the Empire State

IMG_1105As you traverse New York City, you can’t help but feel like a mere spec on this map. Giant buildings above, long subway tunnels below, and of course, millions of people all around you. But no matter how big the “apple” may be, you always feel like the sky is the limit. And while most times it is, last night, I went soaring above that, with no limits in site. Yes, I took flight in a helicopter to get a perspective of this majestic metropolis, not many have seen.

Just about 45 minutes north of Manhattan, is the Westchester County Airport – the home of Wings Air Helicopters. Wings Air was founded in 2002 by former investment banker, Javier Diaz. As an experienced pilot, he wanted to create a company that would stand above the rest, meeting aviation needs for those with pleasure and luxury in mind.

A first of its kind at this aviation facility, Wings Air doesn’t just provide access to chartered flights, but they really focus on overall experience and excellence for the customer. Unlike other helicopter tours, Wings Air focuses on making sure the customer gets full access to the City of Dreams, for an extended period of time. And last night was that and more.

As the sun began to set on yet another gorgeous Sunday in the Big Apple, I was about to hop on board a four passenger helicopter with the Wings Air Helicopter team. Walking out onto the tarmac, guided by our pilot, Anthony, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. I had seen friends’ pictures and of course the proverbial helicopter ride on the Bachelor, but now it was my turn.

IMG_1095Arriving at the soon-to-be hovering aircraft, I was excited, yet nervous. Never had I ridden in such a small flying machine. Anthony eased our fears, helped us buckle in, and told us to mount our headsets, for what would be a memorable experience. He was right!

Strapped in and seated nearly right up against the glass, the helicopter began to lift off the ground. My heart raced and my smile got wider. Soon we were floating. As we got higher and higher into the sky, the first thing that came to my mind was the feeling I got at Spaceship Earth – the popular attraction at Disney’s Epcot. We were soaring high above the trees and I could see for miles. It felt almost surreal.

As we continued the journey, I was speechless. This floating glass box allowed me to experience a view like none other. As Anthony guided the aircraft, he pointed out landmarks, as heard through our headsets. “You see that blimp, that’s hovering above Yankee stadium” he said. “And that right there, that’s Bronxville.”

IMG_1017Soon he radioed into the tower, asking them for permission to fly into Manhattan. Not along it, but into it. The moment was coming and my heart raced faster. The Big Apple from above! I could see it. I could almost touch it.IMG_1030

As we floated over the Hudson River, south toward Midtown, the sun set to our right, creating a jaw dropping glow on the buildings lining the West side of Manhattan. The reflection of the setting sun on the buildings glistened on the river, creating a glitter like effect.IMG_1005

I snapped away, one phone in hand and camera in the other. I couldn’t get enough. And then, there it was. The Empire State Building. In all its glory. Standing tall and proud, reminding us what this great city is all about.

IMG_1058Anthony went towards it, then to the right of it, then around it. We got to see it from all angles. I could almost see the faces of her visitors on the roof deck. And then there was more. He guided the chopper down so we could see a direct shot of Times Square. Another stunningly scenic aerial view. Was this real life?

As the sun disappeared into the horizon and we flew high above the Big Apple, the time seemed to disappear just as quickly. I wanted more. But just like that it was time to come off cloud nine and come back down to Earth.

Overall, my experience with Wings Air Helicopters was an unforgettable experience. Between the first class service, steady flight and breathtaking views, I couldn’t have asked for a better first time helicopter ride. But I will ask “Where to next, crew?”.IMG_1100

Wings Air creates custom packages including luxury experiences outside of New York City. For more information, or to book a flight, go to www.wingsair.net.



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