Helicopter Ride over Downtown St. Louis


This is something I've always wanted to do: fly in a helicopter. I found one helicopter tour operator in St. Louis the last time I was here but it was during storm season, so no flights were being made at that time.


The weather was perfect when I arrived here last Saturday, so straight from a 20-hour flight from Manila that involved plane changes in Nagoya and Detroit, I went to the riverfront where the helipad is located to sign up for a ride. 

View of the Gateway Arch and downtown St. Louis
After paying the fee ($65, including  taxes), and a short viewing of a safety video, I was ushered to the helipad to board the helicopter. The helicopter is a yellow Robinson R44, which can seat four, including the pilot. There were two others riding with me, a couple, and they chose to sit behind the pilot, giving me the front seat which I think was the best position to be.

It was a lot noisier than I thought it would be, although the headset help muffle the sound of the whirling propeller a bit. It was also a bit more jarring than riding in an airplane, with the vibration more palpable. Maybe because it was also a small helicopter.

Postcard perfect view of the Arch, the Old Courthouse and downtown St. Louis
The tour that I selected was the Anheuser-Busch tour. For that the helicopter will fly along the Mississippi, past the Busch Stadium, home of the St. Louis Cardinals, and the neighborhood of Soulard (where the Mardi Gras is held) up to the Anheuser-Busch brewery, then circling back past the train yards and the Illinois side of the river. From here you can see the runway of St. Louis Downtown airport, and beyond it, the Cahokia mounds, a UNESCO World Heritage site.

The railroad tracks look like abstract art from above

Continuing its journey back to the helipad, the helicopter will fly past the Gateway Arch, with downtown St. Louis in the background. It was on this point that the pilot referred to as "the opportunity to take a postcard-worthy of the Arch, which the Old Courthouse nestled between its two bases. I was busy clicking away with my camera when we made the pass. the height of the Arch is 192 meters (630 feet) so I think we were flying at about that same height.
Flying over Eads Bridge. On the extreme left is the Edward Jones Dome, home of the St. Louis Rams

It then skirted the historic Eads Bridge, then banked and made an approach back to the helipad. It landed gracefully like a grasshopper alighting on a lily pad. The ride was over, too soon I think. 


Another view of the trainyard from the cockpit

How to There
The Gateway Helicopter Tours is located just on the riverfront, across the street from the footsteps leading to the Arch. The booking office is also locateds on the helipad, which is a floating platform anchored on the river. If taking the the Metro link, get off Laclede's Landing station and walk to the park.

The Robinson R44 at the helipad

Useful info
Rides start at $35 and each trip needs  a minimum of two passengers. You will be grouped with others if you come alone.

Website: www.gatewayhelicoptertours.com

by Kin Enriquez


Comments

  1. Nice ride... should try it out sometime.
    Abroad, I haven't really tried helicopter rides... but I did try local helicopter rides c/o Dacon for photographing Zamboanga Churches in 2005, and twice with San Miguel Corp. Cebu for Medical Missions to Bantayan and to Tacloban, Leyte during a typhoon in 1989!

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  2. Helicopter is one of the means of travel that I haven't tried. Your view from the top is really amazing.

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  3. I badly wish to experience it someday,hope one day I could really get that ride.

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  4. I have done helicopter rides while on vacation, but have never thought about doing on closer to home or at home.

    This has definitely gotten me to thinking.

    Good use of photos.

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  5. I was so envious when you said that you had taken the helicopter tour. At libre pa! hehe Btw, haven't dropped by here for some time. Love your new theme!

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