Have you ever dreamed of seeing the best city in the world from an aerial view? Imagine dangling your feet over the World Trade Center, Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building, Central Park, and several other iconic New York City landmarks while watching millions of tiny people walk around the city below you from thousands and thousands of feet up? Fulfilling this dream is entirely possible and actually taking part in this experience will be one of the best things you’ll ever do in your life.
This past October, my boyfriend surprised me with a helicopter ride over Manhattan for my birthday. There were no words to describe the 30 minute experience. Leaving from Westchester, we flew over uptown and midtown, soaking in views of Central Park from above, circling over the Chrysler building and staring down in awe at all the action going on below us. It was unforgettable and one of the best, if not the best experience of my life thus far.
All of that changed a couple weeks ago.
Months ago, I discovered a company called FlyNYON. They are a doors off helicopter experience with flights in New York City, Las Vegas, Miami, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. They’ve been featured on TIME, BuzzFeed, CNN, GQ, and CBS. It’s the ultimate photography experience and tons of professional photographers use this company to capture unimaginable photographs of the gorgeous cities they fly over. Because there are no doors on the helicopter, there’s nothing standing in the way of you and the city. There’s nothing standing in the way of your camera lens and the insane views below. The photos of NYC that are always being posted on their Instagram account continuously leave me in awe.
Because I had done an amazing helicopter ride over NYC just last year, I was never able to justify going on another helicopter ride to see the same (unbelievable) city. When I made plans to visit New York again, the first thing that popped into my mind was FlyNYON. The thought of “a doors-off helicopter ride” kept circling around in my head until I finally brought the subject up to my boyfriend. Despite the fact that we had already done a helicopter ride over Manhattan, he was down for this new experience with a different company. Sometimes they have deals like “10% off this flight” or “30% off this flight”, so I messaged them and asked if they had any deals going on at that moment. I learned that these special deals happen randomly and don’t last for long, but they were kind enough to give me a 10% off code that I’ll share with you: “10OFF”. Easy enough right? Nonetheless, I do recommend following them on Instagram at “flynyon” because that’s where they post their flash deals! Just this past weekend they were having a sale for 30% off flights in honor of Memorial Day. The cool thing is that you can “Buy now, book later”. So you can buy a flight whenever you want to and then actually book your dates when you know you’re going to visit NYC or any of the other cities they offer flights in.
There are a few different flight options you can choose from. A 15-minute flight, a 30-minute flight, a 2-hour excursion (20-minutes in the air), and special focus flights. We opted for the 15-minute NYC Experience flight. The total price of each person including taxes, fees, and including our 10% discount was $208. Not bad for an incredible experience like this one. Later that day, I received an email from FlyNYON offering to upgrade us both to the NYC Classic 30-minute flight for only $50 more per seat. The NYC Classic is usually $549, but if you purchase it online it’s $499, not including taxes and fees. Upgrade for $50 and get the 30-minute NYC Classic for $258 instead of $500+? Deal! We upgraded and I couldn’t imagine the experience if we didn’t. 30-minutes was the perfect amount of time.
FlyNYON’s hanger is located in New Jersey. Because Fleet Week was going on, the traffic was absurd and it took us about a year to get there, but we made it just in time for the debriefing for our 7pm flight. Tip: you’re supposed to be there at least 45 minutes before your flight time. Leave earlier than you think you should. Then leave a little earlier than that. You never know with New York traffic. Upon arrival, we received cute FlyNYON bracelets and then the five of us in our flight group headed into a meeting room to watch a video and discuss where we wanted to go and what we wanted to see. The personalization of the flight was super unique and it was amazing that they took our wants into consideration when customizing the route specific to us current passengers.
It was time to put on our harnesses and properly secure our phones and cameras to go up in the air. The five of us and the pilot were buckled by the FlyNYON staff to the helicopter, waved goodbye to the ground below and set off on our aerial adventure. We flew into Manhattan and begun by circling around the Statue of Liberty. I kept making it a point to go visit the Statue of Liberty whenever I go to New York but have never gotten around to it. After seeing it from the viewpoint that I did on this day, I can comfortably say that I don’t need to go visit it anymore. From there, we moved into the city and flew around the World Trade Center. A professional photographer was on our flight and requested that he get a certain aerial shot looking straight down at the building and to do that our helicopter had to turn very steeply on it’s side. He did that for the photographer’s side and mine and Constantin’s side alike– what a rush! The whole time our feet were hanging outside of this aircraft dangling above the endless buildings below. From downtown, we moved to Midtown and around Central Park. Unfortunately there were two flight restrictions over the bottom part and top part of Central Park due to Trump being in town and a Yankees game going on, so we could only fly over a tiny little strip of the park over the reservoir. It was still an unreal site nonetheless! Then it was over the Empire State Building, a look at the Flat Iron building, Washington Square Park, and a few more spots!
A couple things to note: It is windy AF up there. Obviously… because there aren’t any doors. And because it’s windy it’s super cold. Do yourself a favor and bring a jacket! And wear pants. If I ever go again, I honestly wouldn’t put it past myself to bring gloves to wear up there because my hands turned into little ice cubes half way through our flight. Bring your best camera and zoom lens too. I only had my phone because my camera was back in Arizona, but luckily Constantin had his camera to capture some really cool shots. Because FlyNYON is all about the #shoeselfies, wear your favorite pair of sneaks! I wish I had worn my converse… but it’s fine, I’m fine.
This is an absolute must-do when you visit New York City. The experience doesn’t even feel like real because of how incredible and unbelievable it all is. Please don’t pass this up. This was the most extraordinary thing I’ve ever done in my life and I’m fairly certain it might be one of the best things you’ve ever done too.