4 of the best helicopter sightseeing tours in North America
By Howard Slutsken, CNN
5 minute read
9:49 AM EDT, Tue June 13, 2017
America from above: What better way to see North America's greatest and grandest sights than soaring through the air in a rotary-winged chopper? Here are four of our favorite heli-tours operating in Canada and the US.
Maverick Helicopters: Las Vegas-based Maverick Helicopters has a huge fleet of 47 Airbus Helicopter EC130s and H130s, was a launch customer for the machine, and worked with Airbus on design enhancements to create what's become the world's preferred sightseeing helicopter.
Maverick Helicopters: Maverick's Grand Canyon heli-tour is "two and a half hours of pure experience," says Bryan Kroten, the company's vice president of marketing.
The grand tour: Maverick's Grand Canyon tour heads first to Lake Las Vegas and Lake Mead, before taking in the Hoover Dam, the Mojave Desert and finally the Canyon itself.
Niagara Helicopters: The thunderous sound of thousands of cubic meters of water plunging over Niagara Falls every second draws millions of visitors to the Falls and the surrounding region annually.
Border territory: The Falls straddle the Canada-United States border along the Niagara River between Lake Erie and Lake Ontario, and last year, close to 100,000 people experienced an aerial tour of the Falls with Niagara Helicopters.
Fleet of H130s: In operation for over 50 years, Niagara Helicopters operates a fleet of four Airbus Helicopter H130s. These state-of-the-art machines were designed with heli-tours in mind, with air-conditioning and vibration control, and for enhanced safety on the ground, a fully-enclosed tail rotor called a "fenestron."
Window seats: "The best part is the seating," says Pierce. "There are three seats in front with the pilot, four in the back that are raised stadium-style, and the views out of the huge windows are incredible."
Blackcomb Helicopters: It's about a two-hour scenic drive to Whistler Village along the aptly named Sea to Sky Highway, from Vancouver's multi-award-winning YVR airport. Whistler is home to the world-renowned Whistler Blackcomb ski resort, the focal point of the area's year-round outdoor adventures.
Coast Mountains: Just up the road from the Village is the Whistler Heliport, where Blackcomb Helicopters takes guests on heli-tours over the region's Coast Mountains.