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Should you do a private helicopter tour if you’re afraid of flying or heights?

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A private helicopter tour can be an incredible experience, with the opportunity to see astounding sights and famous landmarks from the perfect vantage point in the air. You’ll make lifetime memories with a London Helicopter flight.

However, if you have a fear of heights or a fear of flying, the thought of a helicopter flight could fill you with dread, rather than enjoyment.

Helicopter flight

Should you do a private helicopter tour if you’re afraid of flying?

While some people believe taking a flight on a private helicopter may help to cure their fear of flying, others could think of nothing more terrifying.

‘Flying’ on a flight simulator may help to assuage any fears, as you can get used to the experience without going on a ‘real’ flight.  Once you have experienced a flight simulator, you may feel ready to move on to a ‘real’ flight in a private helicopter.

If you do choose to experience a tour, some key points to be aware of include:

  • Space – the cabin of a helicopter is a lot smaller than standard planes, so bear this in mind if feeling constricted contributes to your fear of flying
  • Seating – the front seat of the helicopter is the most ‘exposed’, as you have the widest field of vision. Consider sitting further back in the cockpit if it is your first flight and gradually build your confidence
  • Noise – a helicopter flight can get quite noisy with the air drag and the sound of the rotor blades. Wearing the headphones provided – or a pair of earplugs – may make you feel more comfortable
  • View/visibility – you will be able to see much more from a helicopter than you can from a plane
  • Bumpy/swooping feeling – helicopter flights are often not as smooth as those in an aeroplane, due to the smaller size of the aircraft

If you do have a fear of flying, choosing a private helicopter tour rather than a public one is a good idea, as this will mean that it is only you and your chosen guest (s) onboard. If you choose a public flight, you’re likely to have to share the cabin with others, which may not be advisable if you are particularly nervous.

Always advise your helicopter flight operator ahead of time if you or any of your group are afraid of flying, as they can ensure the pilot is aware. They can then ensure that they explain all aspects of the flight and the take off and landing process to you, which may help to alleviate your fears.

Should you do a private helicopter tour if you’re afraid of heights?

A fear of heights and a fear of flying are different things. For many, a fear of heights is not really to do with being up high, rather they fear falling from a height. Understanding the physics of what keeps an aeroplane or helicopter in the air can help with rationalising the fear, so it may help to learn the basics of how aircraft take off, fly and land.

It has been suggested that vertigo tends to occur primarily when you can actually see what’s attaching you to (or separating you from) the ground, such as when you’re walking over a high bridge, or climbing a mountain, as you can instantly see how far it is to ‘fall’. Based on this thought, many who are afraid of heights are not afraid of flying at all, as there is no visible ‘attachment’.

If your fear of heights is particularly prevalent when you are in an open space, such as climbing a ladder or a tall building, you may be perfectly fine in a helicopter – the only way to know for sure is to take that flight.

Also remember that many pilots are afraid of heights!  They are often more likely than average to have this fear, as their sharp visual imagination – essential to becoming a skilled pilot – can actually exacerbate a fear of heights.  

The pre-flight safety briefing is also the ideal time to ask any questions or discuss any particular concerns you may have with regards to your flight, prior to take off.

If you have any concerns or queries, please contact us prior to your flight.

Advice for first time helicopter passengers

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No doubt you’re excited at the prospect of your first flight on a helicopter. Whether you’ve flown in a plane one or one hundred times, the experience in a helicopter is altogether different.

A London Helicopter flight is an exhilarating way to see London’s famous landmarks. It offers a unique vantage point and allows you to see the beauty of the city in all its glory, whilst avoid traffic and any congestion charges!

Being prepared can help you relax and enjoy your flight, so we’ve put together some tips and advice to help you get the most out of your time in the air.

Helicopter Flight

What should I wear for my flight?

While you might expect it to be very warm whilst you’re up in the sky, the temperature can drop considerably  – and quickly – particularly when the helicopter reaches top speed.

In order to ensure you remain comfortable throughout your flight, we recommend that you wear:

  • Light layers – add or remove layers as you wish, depending on the temperature on board
  • Dark clothing – light coloured clothing can reflect against the windows of the helicopter, causing glare in photographs  
  • Fitted clothing – loose clothing can catch or blow up into the rotors
  • Full length trousers or jeans with a long sleeved top – to keep you warm during your flight and prevent fabric blowing into the rotors of the helicopter
  • Secure flat shoes – high heels, sandals and flip flops are not advised for safety reasons  

If your flight is booked for the winter months, wear a warm coat and gloves.  

If you have long hair, tie it back to prevent it becoming tangled.

What do I need to bring for my flight?

There are several items that are either compulsory to bring with you for your flight, or are strongly recommended for your comfort and enjoyment throughout:

  • Photo ID – necessary for identification
  • Sunglasses – protect your eyes from glare whilst you’re in the sky. Ensure they fit well to avoid them falling off as you enter/exit the aircraft  
  • Sunscreen – the windows of the helicopter will not protect you from the sun. Some flights are also open-door, so ensure you wear SPF
  • A camera or binoculars – to make the most of the views from your flight. Ensure they have a secure strap. You can use your smartphone to take photographs but it must be switched to Flight mode
  • Ear plugs/ear defenders – the flight can be noisy
  • Motion sickness medication – if you suffer from motion sickness, consider taking preventative medication before your flight

Is anything banned from my flight?

There are some items that will not be allowed onto the helicopter for safety reasons. These include:

  • Hats/visors – can be blown up into the rotor system, causing damage
  • Scarves – can fly off into the rotors or become tangled in the craft
  • Handbags/backpacks and keys – unnecessarily increase the weight in the cabin. You can leave your bag and other possessions in one of our lockers before your flight  
  • Jewellery such as necklaces and bracelets – can become tangled or loose, damaging the rotors

Are there are weight or height restrictions for my flight?

Your flight may be subject to restrictions of height and weight. As an individual passenger, you must weigh no more than 17st/110kg. Additionally, you must weigh no less than 15kg.

We do not specify a height restriction on our flights, however if you are over 6ft 2/188cm you may feel cramped. If you have any concerns please do contact us prior to your flight.

No children below the age of four years are permitted to fly with us and any children aged under 16 must be accompanied by an adult.

Do I need to take out insurance for my flight?

We hold compulsory Public Liability insurance which covers our pilots and passengers for any loss or injury incurred from their flight. There is no insurance provision for you missing your scheduled flight due to late arrival, or any loss associated with a delayed or cancelled flight. If you  

What happens if the weather is bad on the day of my flight?  

Inclement weather conditions such as fog, heavy rain, snow, high winds and thunderstorms can prevent a flight from taking off. We will notify you as soon as possible on the day of your scheduled flight to let you know if it has to be cancelled. Please note, the pilot’s decision is final.

When do I need to arrive for my flight?

Please arrive at the heliport at least half an hour before your scheduled flight time to allow sufficient time for you to check in and complete the compulsory safety briefing.

Prior to your flight taking off, the pilot will explain:

  • How to safely board and exit the helicopter
  • Where to sit
  • Where the first aid kit is located
  • What you should do in the event of an emergency

Should you arrive late for your flight, we cannot guarantee you will be able to fly.  
With our handy hints and tips you’re sure to enjoy every moment of your first helicopter flight over the London skyline. Why not check out our gallery for some iconic images and footage, then upload your own after your flight?

How to Dress for a Helicopter Tour

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So you’ve booked your first helicopter tour and the excitement is beginning to wash over you, but what do you wear exactly? Unlike most other forms of travel, your choice of clothing is particularly important in order for you to get the most out of your experience. By picking the right clothing you’ll ensure that you won’t spend the majority of the flight worrying about being too hot or too cold.

Colours

This may come as a surprise, but in order to take the best pictures it’s a good idea to wear darker colours. Darker colours will reduce any window reflections, as lighter colours tend to reflect in helicopter windows, which can ruin photo opportunities. If you or another passenger takes photos, a person in lighter clothes will show up as a luminescent ghost so it’s a good idea to leave the neon colours at home!

Avoid Loose Clothes

It’s important for you not to wear loose fitting clothes as they catch the wind worse than other outfits. Particularly in open door helicopters where you’ll be subjected to the wind first hand. For the ladies, this means skirts are out! A set of jeans will ensure that the wind doesn’t catch your clothing too badly. If you have any loose jewellery you’ll want to leave that at home so that you don’t lose it. On your feet, you’ll want to avoid sandals or flip flops that can come off easily. Laced shoes or trainers will be just fine.

Dress for the season?

If it’s the summer, you’re going to want to make sure you’re not wearing anything too heavy but likewise you don’t want to be too cold when the on-board temperature control takes effect.  The best way to stay comfortable on a helicopter is to wear layers which can be easily removed until you reach a temperature that works for you. This strategy works in both summer and winter so you can be sure that you will be able to find a temperature that allows you to fully take in the sights of London below.

Accessories

Hats are an absolute no-no for helicopter travel. Hats flying upwards and into the rotor system can damage helicopters so leave these either in the lockers or at home. Whereas, sunglasses are essential. Given your height in the air and the size of the windows, you can find the natural light exposure to be much higher than ground level. On that note it’s important to bring sun cream as you can run the risk of being sunburnt.

Things you can’t bring with you

You’re going to be limited by what you can bring on the flight. You can only bring a camera or mobile phone on board. All other possessions will be left in lockers. You won’t be able to take a purse, backpack or set of keys as these easily be blown about and into the rotor system.

The secret to making the most of your helicopter trip is to dress for the occasion. Leave the valuables at home, chuck on some sun screen, some jeans, a few layers of tops and some shades and you’ll be set to enjoy the fabulous vistas without feeling uncomfortable. If you want to get some good shots of the occasion always remember to leave the bright colours at home so that you can get pictures that capture you in the best light, rather than having you or your friend light up like Casper the ghost when you print them off.

Most importantly of all, keep your camera charged and have fun!

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.

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