machines that hover, not the motorcycle.
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when i was young, my mom purchased me a 7 minute helicopter flight over manhattan and that started it.

as i got older, i had several opportunities to ride in fixed wing airplanes, but to me, somehow, that didn't offer quite the same experience. you don't get as good visibility as you do in a helicopter, and you end up flying far away from the ground. in contrast, with a helicopter you don't need a runway or taxiways to land, just a parking lot or a big back yard is enough. in a helicopter, you can be flying while 2 feet off the ground without going anywhere. if you get lost when flying somewhere, you can always just stop wherever you are!

then, when working for down jones in new york city, i suddenly had the money to do somthing about this, so i started taking lessons, and about a year later, i had my licence.

i rented helicopters from eastern helicopter at islip airport, where i learned to fly. i have a field behind my house in new york, so i could land there. i was also quite near the beach which also happens to be a nice place to land. occasionally i would head out east to the hamptons. there is a helipad at the end of dune road in the hamptons that became a favorite landing spot of mine because it is quite secluded but right on the water.

at the same time i learned to fly real helicopters, i got a remote controlled helicopter which i assembled and had flying. it took some time to learn, but ended up really helping me learn to hover the real helicopter.

i told my flight instructor about my model and he had me bring it to the airport and demonstrate it for him, which i did. after he had seen to fly around and do everything that i could do with it (which wasn't much) i went to put the helicopter away. my flight instructor had gone, but this one guy driving by in a truck slowed down to look at the model as i put it away. i ended up chatting with him for a while about it, and i happened to ask him if he was a pilot. he said, "yes, i am. i have a helicopter in that hanger over there." i said, "what? you do?! what kind?!". he said it was a bell 206 long ranger helicopter and offered to show it to me! without a moment's hesitation, i said, "OK!".

we went to the hanger and inside it, along with a vast collection of interesting aircraft sat this gorgeous bell 206 long ranger complete with leather seats and active noise canceling headsets! he also happened to mention that he was going to take it into new york city that night, and asked if i might like to come allong for the ride! again, without hesitation, i said, "OK!".

time came for the flight, and after a quick skim through the limitations and emergency procedures section of the pilot operating handbook, we were starting the helicopter out on the tarmac. once the helicopter was up to speed, he picked up and set the helicopter down a few feet away to demonstrate to me how the helicopter handles. then he said, "ok, now you try it." once again, without hesitation, i said, "OK!".

it was like learning to fly again! i was as sloppy as i was the first time i ever took the controlls of a helicopter! it was awefull! but somehow i managed to safely pick up and set down, so he said, "ok, take me to the pad." as you might expect, without any hesitation whatsoever, i said, "OK!".

we got to the pad, and he had me do some pedal turns just to make sure i had some idea of what i was doing! then he called the tower and told me, "ok, take me to new york". quicker than you can think, i said, "OK!".

so there i was, lifting off of the west pad of islip airport at dusk on my way to new york city in a turbine powered helicopter! what's more, he had a color moving map GPS system in the instrument pannel which allowed us to easily fly into the laguardia exclusion which otherwize would have been a bit of a challange. we called the tower about 2 nautical miles from laguardia and got cleared to the east river exclusion. at this point it was perfectly dark without a cloud in the sky. the new york city skyline lit the way in front of us!

i landed at the east 32nd street heliport and picked up the girl that we were transporting, turned around and took off over the east river with the biggest smile i have ever had on my face!

20 minutes later we were landing at islip and i was telling myself how i could now die a happy man! i brought the helicopter back to parking and thanked my new friend for his incredable generosity!

if you have ever wanted to learn to fly, there is never a time like the present!

i have some pictures pertaining to [ helicopters ] in my [ pictures ] section.

Many people have asked me where they can learn to fly in the New York area. I learned to fly helicopters at Islip airport with a company called Eastern Helicopter. They have since changed their name to Helicopter Flight Training and as of Aug 3, 2005 their rates for the Robinson R22 are $165 solo, $170 - $180 dual and $45 for ground instruction. You can expect to get your private pilot's licence with no prior experience for roughly $12,000 to $14,000 including instruction, headset, test fees, and books.

There is also an operation north of New York City called Wings Air, LLC that has two Schweizer 300Cs, one MD500D, an Astar 350B2 and a Bell 206BIII. Rates as of June 15, 2005 are $315 per hour dual, $265 solo/rental for the Schweizers.

I will post more info on other schools in the New York / New Jersey / Connecticuit area. Just email me at the address at the bottom right of this page.
© anders brownworth