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The best views of London from above

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Seeing London’s famous landmarks from above is an experience you won’t forget, with panoramic views across the city.

The London skyline is ever changing due to rapid building – and the plethora of cranes signal that this trend isn’t slowing. It seems like every time you look up there’s a new building battling for attention on London’s skyline.

Some of the best views of London can be seen from above – London is truly a magnificent city to see from the sky.

Some of the best views in London to see from above include:

The Shard

The Shard instantly became an icon as the tallest building in Western Europe and is seen by many as a modern symbol for the city of London. Surely nothing can be as glamorous as flying around The Shard’s glittering facade on a private helicopter tour.

Big Ben

A British cultural icon and symbol of Great Britain, Big Ben is just breathtaking to see from the sky. You will feel like you are on the set of a James Bond film as you look down on the world famous clock tower.

The London Eye

Europe’s tallest ferris wheel, The London Eye has become a London landmark since opening in 1999. This famous landmark now provides the backdrop to London’s New Year fireworks, with images of the wheel being projected across the world during the breath-taking display. The London Eye is already positioned for stunning views of the city, but you can take that one step further in a private helicopter with unrivalled views from above on a London Buzz private helicopter tour.

Vertigo 42

Vertigo 42 is a 360-degree champagne bar in the City – seats are perched at more than 400 ft high, at the top of Tower 42. This bar quite literally offers the height of luxury with sweeping views of the skyline. Now imagine looking down on this  spectacular building from a helicopter – in a helicopter the views really are paramount and superior to even the most luxurious sky bar.

Primrose Hill

The summit of this grassy hill offers some spectacular views across London. In a helicopter you will be able to view all the people sat at the top of the hill taking in the view while you look across at the view from the vantage point of a much higher angle.

Tower Bridge

What better way to see the most famous bridge in the world than from the sky? Feeling like you are in the middle of chase scene straight out of a film, swoop past the bridge towers on a London Sights tour. Maybe you will be lucky enough to fly over the bridge when the bascules are raised – on one of the of the 1,000 times per year this happens.

OXO Tower

The iconic South Bank landmark, the OXO Tower offers panoramic views of the London skyline. Look down on the red neon letters of the OXO sign from a private helicopter and make sure you have your camera at the ready take some impressive photos!

Sushi Samba

Located on the 38th and 39th floors of the Heron Tower, Sushi Samba offers 360 degree panoramic views of London. Look out for the floor to ceiling glass windows and glass lifts. Sushi Samba think their views are unparalleled, but we would argue they are beaten in a helicopter!

Sky Garden

The Sky Garden is located at 20 Fenchurch Street, a sky-scraper also known as ‘the walkie talkie’ due to its unique shape. Visitors can wander around the exquisitely landscaped gardens, observation decks and an open air terrace of what is London’s highest public garden. This skyscraper also features top-floor restaurant with enormous panes of glass for a breathtaking view. Looking down at the greenery of the Sky Garden from a private helicopter in an otherwise concrete skyline will certainly be a novelty.  

Up at the O2

Up at The O2 is an experience that takes you on a guided expedition over the roof of The O2 arena via a fabric walkway. At the summit, there is an observation platform where you can take in spectacular views of London. This is clearly an exhilarating experience, but we can take you one step further as you look down on those people climbing the famous structure from the sky.

ArcelorMittal Orbit  

The ArcelorMittal Orbit is the UK’s tallest sculpture and the world’s longest, fastest and tallest tunnel slide. The Orbit is an iconic symbol of Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and the London 2012 Games. Flying above it you can view the sweeping panorama of the city and the local area with its meadows, wetlands and waterways. The red super-structure, the spiral stairs, steel canopy and the highly polished steel mirrors in the upper viewing platform make up a spectacular sight to see from the sky.

A unique, exhilarating tour of London from the sky will leave you with memories that will stay with you long after you have landed. There really is no better way to view the London skyline than in a private helicopter.

How to get your helicopter licence

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A rewarding career where no two days are ever the same, a job as a helicopter pilot can be challenging and not always as glamorous as people may think.

There are, however, many reasons to consider flying helicopters for a living:

  • It’s a development from flying aeroplanes
  • It’s the ideal career for aircraft enthusiasts
  • It’s a varied, challenging career
  • You’re likely to be able to travel extensively
  • It’s a rewarding career, particularly if you fly in the armed forces or ambulance service

If you decide it is the career for you, there are a number of necessary requirements and steps to follow before you can qualify.


How do you become a helicopter pilot?

In order to train to become a helicopter pilot, you will need to be aged 18 or over. You will also need to hold a Commercial Pilot Licence (CPL), which is issued by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).

In order to qualify for a CPL training course, you will need to:

  • Hold GCSEs in English, Maths and Science, grades A* – C
  • Pass the required skills tests
  • Pass a thorough medical assessment
  • Hold a minimum of 155 hours flying time

If you already hold a Private Pilot Licence (PPL), you may be required to hold less than 155 hours flying time when training for a CPL.

Skills required to become a helicopter pilot  

In order to become a helicopter pilot, you will need a set of key skills and aptitudes including:

  • Excellent spatial awareness
  • Excellent hand-to-eye co-ordination
  • Strong concentration skills
  • The ability to remain calm in a crisis
  • Excellent communication skills
  • Sound judgement

What will your job as a helicopter pilot involve?

As well as flying the helicopter itself, you will also be responsible for:

  • Filing flight plans with the relevant authorities
  • Communicating with air traffic control
  • Checking weather conditions and any airspace restrictions on your planned flight path
  • Carrying out safety checks prior to take off, during the flight and post-flight
  • Working out the aircraft’s fuel requirements for your trip
  • Calculating the maximum load capacity of the helicopter for the flight
  • Checking the helicopter and all its instruments are functioning properly
  • Completing the flight log and any necessary paperwork post-flight

Depending on the size of the helicopter, you may fly alone or as part of a larger team of co-pilots.

How much does it cost to get your helicopter licence?

Qualifying for a CPL can be costly, with the number of flight hours, plus the written and practical examinations, soon adding up.

You will need to pay for your licence yourself, unless you study for the qualification as a member of the armed forces, in which case they may contribute to or fully fund the cost of the training.  

Careers as a helicopter pilot

Once you have obtained your Commercial Pilot Licence and qualified as a helicopter pilot, there are a number of career paths open to you, including:

Once you have the necessary experience, you could combine flying with training other prospective helicopter pilots.

How much could I earn as a helicopter pilot?

Your salary would depend on a number of factors, including your location, where you work – whether for a private company or within the armed forces – and your experience.

As a guide:

  • A newly qualified helicopter pilot could expect to earn in the region of £25,000
  • An experienced helicopter pilot could expect to earn in the region of £45,000

You may be paid an additional allowance for an necessary overnight stays, or flying to certain areas deemed inhospitable.

The best way to travel around Britain

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From London to Land’s End, Edinburgh to Essex, Cambridge to Cardiff, there’s so much to see on the island we call Great Britain. While it’s true that towns in the UK are not that far apart compared to other much larger countries, seeing all the UK has to offer means travelling – and plenty of it.

By car, you can cover the entirety of the United Kingdom within a matter of days, with the length of the country a mere 874 miles – roughly the distance between New York and Chicago. However, given our complex setup of A roads, motorways and dual carriageways, this may not be your favoured mode of transport. Likewise, our train network is often the source of much frustration due to delays and regular, lengthy maintenance work.

From luxury travel to budget adventures, our guide to the best ways to travel around Britain may just inspire you to spend your next holiday on a staycation.   

The best ways to travel around Britain on a budget

If you are on a budget, one of the best ways to travel around Britain is by car.

Travel by car

If you don’t own your own car, you should be able to rent a vehicle for between £200 – £600 per week, depending which model you choose.

You’ll then have complete freedom to travel wherever and whenever you wish, without having to rely on trains, buses or taxis.

As a point of reference, Oxford, Bath, Bristol, Birmingham, Cambridge, Brighton, Portsmouth and Bournemouth are all less than three hours’ drive from London – traffic allowing of course! – whereas the north of England lies around five hours away. Driving up to Scotland from London can also be done in a day, with the UK’s most northerly point, John O’ Groats, reachable in around twelve hours.

What’s more, some of Britain’s motorways can be serenely picturesque places on which to drive, with the M6 snaking up through the bucolic Midlands, the Yorkshire Dales and the Lake District.

Travel by train

If you cannot drive or you prefer to sit back and enjoy the scenery as you travel, consider travelling around Britain by train. With no additional costs such as parking and additional fuel, the train is a budget-friendly choice, in as much as you can pre-determine the cost.

However, there is a downside to train travel in Britain, as we are renowned for having some of the most expensive rail fares in all of Europe. A ticket from London to Bristol might set you back around £100 during peak travel hours, for example. However, if you book well in advance and are flexible in when you travel, you should be able to find a ticket that doesn’t cost a small fortune.

If you plan on seeing a lot of the UK by train, it’s worth investing in a rail pass, which will soon pay for itself.

Travel by bike

If you like to travel under your own steam, why not explore the UK by bike? While we’re not suggesting you cycle onto the M25, a scenic tour around some of Britain’s most famous landmarks and landscapes is a unique way to explore our island.

The best ways to travel around Britain in luxury

If money is no object or you want to blow the budget for a special occasion, why not travel around Britain in luxury?

Travel by canal boat

If you are looking for a truly unique experience, choose to travel across the country on a canal boat. This mode of transport has seen an increase in popularity over the last few years and considering Britain’s abundance of picturesque canals, are a surprisingly efficient way to get around, if not a little slow.

A quintessentially English pastime, canal boating is a charming way to discover a quieter side of the country, albeit a fairly costly one.

Travel by helicopter

If you’re looking for something a little more luxurious, consider a private helicopter tour. What better way to see the UK than from the sky? The unique perspective afforded by a flight in a helicopter means that you get an experience like none other, as well as knowing that you can squeeze in maximum visits into shorter timeframes. 

London from the air, for example, is unparalleled, as you take in Big Ben, The London Eye, the Houses of Parliament and more from above.

Support London’s Air Ambulance

We are delighted to support London’s Air Ambulance, helping to extend the reach of their lifesaving missions across London. The London Helicopter will match your donation to double its impact.