By: Megan Zink
Megan is a travel content creator, photographer and digital marketer (by day) based in Chicago. Check out her travel guides to Chicago and beyond on Moderately Excited
I am a pretty big Chicago history and architecture nerd. I rock out in the Field Museum’s Grainger Hall of Gems on the reg (pun totally intended) and I can show you the exact origin of the Great Chicago Fire (and tell you that Mrs. O’Leary’s cow was actually just a marketing stunt to sell more newspapers).
Ask anyone what my go-to suggestion for people visiting for the weekend is that isn’t “touristy” and the Chicago River architecture tour gets my vote every time. It’s a great way to take in the sights while learning something new – which is always something very important to me. But after a while, sunburn and a neck ache from craning up at the looming skyscrapers for extended periods of time can get a little old. Imagine taking in the same buildings with the same fun facts… but with a bird’s eye view from above.
Enter Chicago Helicopter Experience. Since 2011, Chicago Helicopter Experience (CHE) has been shuttling visitors and adventure-seekers alike from their private, downtown heliport between the clouds, over the city and through a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Need a little more convincing? Here are 10 reasons you should consider taking an aerial tour of the city with Chicago Helicopter Experience!
1. It’s “heli”-unique
This one is pretty self-explanatory. How many times are you going to be able to say you flew in a helicopter, much less while getting up close and personal with the 120+ skyscrapers in our fair city?! I took great amounts of joy in the fact that I was able to snap a selfie with Willis.
2. It’s cost efficient
For $138-158/person for a day trip and $158-178/person for a night ride, CHE tours provide one of the more cost-efficient rates available for this type of service.
Factor in special deal sites and possible $99 early bird pricing options and you’re sure to find something that will work! CHE’s website indicates that you should call to inquire about early bird availability.
3. Convenient – and no need to drive out to suburbia (Fist pump)
This is probably one of the top reasons – the idea of flying privately is definitely glamorous – but there is a good possibility that you may depart from a smaller airport, which might be out in the ‘burbs. (Traffic jams? Not so glamorous).
CHE has their own heliport between Pilsen and Bridgeport, directly off south Halsted and right next to the Halsted Orange Line CTA stop. They also have a gigantic parking lot if you opt to drive.
4. The Views
Again… this one is self-explanatory. Sure, you’ve probably seen the skyline from above on your most recent flight – but have you gotten close enough to see people standing in the windows of the Skydeck at Willis?
My other favorite part about this tour was seeing the city from the southern view – taking off in Bridgeport affords an angle that isn’t normally depicted. Also, Soldier Field just looks super awesome from above.
5. Experience New Things
There’s a lot of data that supports society is beginning to prioritize experience over material possessions. Not that we ever needed data to tell us this – think about it. Things break, go out of style, become obsolete – experiences create memories that you can hold on to for forever.
There’s nothing like experiencing something you’ll only get to do a few times in your life (unless you somehow become the next Clint Eastwood… fun fact: he has been a licensed pilot for over 30 years and sometimes will fly his helicopter to his studio to avoid traffic).
6. The Staff
If you are taking a helicopter trip, I’m sure you are thinking that there will probably be a certain level of service associated – but I can tell you that the level CHE went was above and beyond expectations. (Pun totally intended!). The friendliness and knowledge of the check-in staff was apparent and made us feel at ease.
Ross Avery, with corporate development, gave us a pre-flight tour of the airfield and allowed me to get my fill of pictures. Our pilot, Jose, was full of knowledge and made me feel as confident in a helicopter as I could possibly be – he was as skilled as he was knowledgeable and gave a great tour.
7. The Pre-flight Experience
In addition to a super cool exhibit hall full of Chicago’s greatest “firsts” and claims to fame, you can play on a helicopter simulator or a game of bags, enjoy some snacks or even bubbly while watching the choppers take off and land. Oh – and the 90’s throwbacks definitely calmed my pre-flight nerves!
8. The More You Know
As I mentioned, nothing gets me jazzed like a bunch of cool facts about one of my most favorite cities in the world. Between the customer experience center gallery of Chicago and helicopter history and the in-flight experience, I have enough fun facts to get me through a round of Jeopardy. Or at least a local trivia night!
9. You Only Live Once
As the kids say, there is a certain YOLO factor to this special event. For most people, there aren’t a whole lot of reasons to get in a helicopter – so I always say, if you have the opportunity, you should grab it by the horns!
10. The Abundance of Opportunity to Score Brownie Points
No contest – you’ll DEFINITELY score brownie points for this one. Whether an out-of-the-box corporate outing, special date night, or even something more romantic than that (helloooo proposal – they offer a ton of packages, customization options and even charters!) CHE will absolutely help you win.
As you can see, there are a ton of logical reasons to check out Chicago Helicopter Experience. CHE is one of the most cost-effective, high-quality and convenient tours this side of I-90. Need more convincing? They say a picture’s worth a thousand words… I’ll just leave these right here!