PrivateFly’s Alex Hovers Over London By Helicopter

At a recent visit to Biggin Hill Airport, the PrivateFly team were lucky enough to win a helicopter tour over London with AV8 Helicopters.

As the tour coincided with the weekend before Europe’s main private aviation event in Geneva, EBACE (which most of our team will be attending), I managed to get on board.

We offer helicopter tours around the world, but London has to be one of the most exciting cities to fly over.

The helicopter leaves from Rochester Airport, just south of London. This tour was on board a 4-seat Eurocopter 120, with pilot Simon Higgins.

Every helicopter tour starts with a safety briefing from the pilot. CAA regulations require that passengers are issued with a life belt and passengers also have headphones with a microphone so they can speak to the pilot during the flight.

Probably the most exciting part of a helicopter flight is “the hover”, when a helicopter lifts off from the ground. At an airport a helicopter has to act like an aircraft and “hover” along the runway before taking off (rather than taking off vertically).

From Rochester the helicopter flew over the (still misty) Kent country side (look out for traditional Kent oast houses). Before flying over the Queen Elizabeth Bridge / Dartford crossing.

As the helicopter flew along the Thames, London starts to come into view, looking out to the right you have a bird’s eye-view of one of our most popular private jet airports – London City Airport.

Ahead the O2 Arena / Dome and Greenwich and Canary Wharf come into view along with the classic curves of the River Thames.

The helicopter follows the river through London, flying over Tower Bridge, passing London’s newest skyscraper The Shard and offering incredible views of St Paul’s Cathedral, Westminster and the London Eye.

This tour takes passengers as far as Vauxhall Bridge before turning back for the return flight back to Rochester (and excellent photo opportunities for anything you might have missed!)

Before we knew it we were back at Rochester Airport, with just enough time for a quick look round the hangar and a chat to the pilot about learning to fly a helicopter (trainee helicopter pilots start on much smaller aircraft, and learn to hover first!).

Thanks to Pilot Simon Higgins and the team at AV8 Helicopters.