With its Times Square, skyscrapers and 13,000 yellow cabs, New York annually attracts more than 45 million tourists, some of whom, in wanting to see as much as possible of the "Big Apple", in as short a time as possible, often do not hesitate to go over the top, so to speak, as evidenced south of the city, by the incessant helicopters, toing and froing overhead, amounting to 200 take-offs and landings each day.
At the Manhattan Heliport on the banks of the East River, the only one specialized in touristic flights over the city, five companies share the market and operate a total of twenty aircraft. Among them, Manhattan Helicopters founded in 2007.
Daniel Vargas, Operations Director – Manhattan Helicopters :
"A lot of people have that on the list to do, just like going to the Statue of Liberty, or Empire State Building, they wanna do a helicopter ride, they wanna see the sights. We have three tours, one is 15 minutes, the other is eighteen to twenty, and the last is 25 to 30. On any given day we do combinations of either, the most common is the 15 minute ride."
Price: $ 175 per quarter hour. In this lounge, before each flight, passengers are weighed, fitted with a lifejacket and shown the traditional safety instructions. Then it's time to climb aboard for an unforgettable ride.
A few moments later, the Bell Jet Ranger is airborne. Over the Statue of Liberty, to start with, passing close to the 540 metres ( almost 1,800ft. ) tall Freedom Tower, which has replaced the fated Twin Towers. Then, on to the Empire State Building and the Chrysler Building. A few minutes later, the welcome greenery of Central Park, is in view. And finally, after fifteen minutes, the soft landing; and the tourists aboard are unanimous.
-"I think that you lose all fear when you see all that. I've seen Manhattan from the ground, from the air, and soon from a boat, it's great."
- "This is absolutely fabulous! "
- "Fantastic! Really good.''
- ''Very exci..., well it's just... the... it's never been done, we've never been, you know, lifted up...''
- "And we had a bird's eye view, which was interesting, 'cause you saw it from a different angle then, you know."
-"This is absolutely fantastic. It's really fabulous to do because it's another way to see Manhattan, it's magic!"
Feelings that the pilots of the busiest heliport in the world share, and no time to get bored. In constant contact with air traffic control, these pilots have almost no restrictions when overflying the city.
Andrew Woods, Helicopter Pilot - Zip Aviation :
"There's no problem! Obviously there's a set distance for safety that we fly from the buildings, but generally, the further you fly from a building, the better the view, so we're safe, but there's nowhere in New York we can't go. This is the best job in the world."
Without doubt. Indeed, it seems unimaginable that anyone could ever get tired of this breathtaking totally panoramic and unrestricted view, so, here's one last shot for the road.