Yes, you read that right…someone trusted my soul enough to let me handle the controls of a helicopter while up in the sky!
It all started during Christmas of 2018, when my boyfriend was sneaky enough to surprise me with the gift of a 1 hour flight lesson in a R44 helicopter. I. Was. So. Excited. Like, this was our first Christmas together – he did good, am I right? We booked the date for February 16, which happened to be the perfect Saturday for flying – sunny and 65 with the only sight of clouds over the horizon.
We headed to the airport and when we walked in, the cutest old man greeted us saying he was our guy. We walked over to the helicopter and I got to ride shotgun as copilot! The last time I was in a helicopter I had to sit in the back and only had the responsibility of enjoying the view…so this was a whole new perspective and adventure!
We out our head sets on, buckled up and once the engine heated up, we were ready to go! Up we went, pretty fast if I do say so myself.
We headed towards Stone Mountain, GA – somewhere I’d like to go now that I’ve gotten a preview from above. We got a nice tour around and it was very pretty with the surrounding lake.
Then we flew all over Atlanta -Buckhead, Gwinnett, Canton, and who knows where else. I got up close and personal with the Mercedes Stadium, State Farm Arena (previously known as Philips Arena), the Ferris Wheel, downtown Buckhead, and saw just how much the Spaghetti Junction looks like spaghetti! Seeing the city from a helicopter gives it a whole new view.
Now, during the flight so far, the pilot has been pointing out iconic landmarks – all the hospitals, business buildings, helo pads around the city he had landed on before, and other cities across the horizon as we could see 18 miles out. It was also very easy and interesting to see where the weather was rainy versus sunny across the city. He had also been showing me how to read all the helicopter controls – how many knots we were at, how the throttle worked, how to use the pedals, and why there were strings on the front of the wind shield.. in case you’re wondering, essentially it tells you if you’re flying straight – very high tech.
Then, the moment came for me to take control – something I always like doing. I brought the throttle up, made the slightest adjustments in my steering, kept my eye on the strings and before I knew it I WAS FLYING A R44 HELICOPTER BY MYSELF AT 130 MPH!
I was low key scared – flying an almost half million dollar piece of equipment in the sky while 2 other peoples lives are in your hands can put a little bit of pressure on you… but here we are today – alive and well! At the same time, it was very exciting as I’ve always thought about getting my pilot license…who knows.
Let your dreams take flight
After assisting flying for half an hour we had circled back to the runway. The pilot looks at me and says “Have you ever heard of auto rotation?” – I said “…no”. It’s when you practice for an emergency landing as if the engine shut off mid flight. I said “Kill switch?! YES!!!”… I live for this kind of adrenaline! He put the helicopter in idle and sure enough we started to fall while he showed me how to land a helicopter with no motor power – it was very cool and just to let you know, you do approach the ground at a fairly decent speed 😅 Just going wherever the wind takes ya, ya know….
Then, we made our way down the runway doing the Texas two step. This was one of my favorite parts as the pilot hovered down the runway rotating in 180º increments – it was quite the show dancing in a helicopter!
It made for a great day and something I will always remember. Who knows where my next adventure will take me – the sky is the limit !