The first time I was on a plane, I wasn’t quite a teenager, USAir wasn’t US Airways yet and the DC-9 was the airplane that carried me to Disney World. In other words, it was a long time ago!
Since then I’ve flown over 100,000 miles, had my fair share of drunks, kids, dogs, cats and people who I don’t want to talk to on flights hither, thither and yon.
I don’t fly much anymore, thank God (Buddha, Judas, Trump, or a deity of your choice). I no longer have status that granted me first class upgrades, so when I do fly these days, I sit back in coach where seats have shrunk to the point where you’re sitting on top of the person next to you.
I usually bitch the entire trip.
While the thought of getting on an airplane anymore sends shivers up my spine, there are two modes of flight that are on my bucket list. A ride in a blimp and a helicopter.
This past weekend I had the opportunity to scratch one off the list – the helicopter.
Every weekend, when we are in Orlando, helicopters buzz overhead taking sightseers around the area on aerial tours over Disney World, Universal Studios Orlando and SeaWorld. On a whim, we decided to go up in the air ourselves.
We headed over to Air Force Fun and selected one of six different tour packages they offer. We picked the one that took us over Disney Springs, Typhoon Lagoon, Epcot, Hollywood Studios, Blizzard Beach, Animal Kingdom and Disney’s Wide World of Sports. ($50 per person, plus tax and fuel surcharge.)
Tours are offered on a first-come, first-served basis. We waited about 15 minutes for a helicopter to return and after a quick safety briefing, we were escorted out to the Robinson R44 where we had pre-flight pictures taken before boarding.
Headsets on, our pilot introduced himself and before we knew it, we were up, up and away!
I didn’t know what to expect from a helicopter take-off, but it was smooth as the big bird shot up and began to take us 3,000 feet above the parks we frequent each weekend.
We saw the Magic Kingdom off in the distance, but could not fly over due to it being in a no-fly zone since 9/11. We saw Spaceship Earth and Epcot’s World Showcase from a whole different perspective. It looks much bigger from the air!
We were able to see some of the construction at Disney’s Hollywood Studios where heavy equipment is making way for Star Wars and Toy Story themed areas of the park.
The construction wrapping up on Pandora – The World of Avatar at Disney’s Animal Kingdom was visible from our vantage point as were the latest additions to Disney Springs.
It wasn’t long before the captain turned the helicopter around and we were heading back to our point of departure. The flight lasted a little under ten minutes and we had smooth air the entire time.
I wish we could have stayed up longer, but at least I got to scratch one thing off that bucket list.
Now to get on a blimp!