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  • SEP 12, 2019
  • WRITTEN BY: Ayla Reeve

Flying in a helicopter is, understandably, a bucket list favourite. What better way to explore a place than from the sky? Flying means you can experience a whole new world, with 360-degree views of your favourite cities and coastlines. Here at Experience Days, we sell a lot of incredible helicopter flights all over the UK. From tours along the Jurassic coast to lessons in Northern Ireland, we’ve got you covered! We’re not trying to boast, but we’ve had a lot of questions over the years from first time flyers, and we think we know a thing or two! So, here’s a list of some of the most commonly asked questions for all of you interested in flying for the first time.

How different is a helicopter from a plane?

Well, the most obvious and one of the most important answers is one that everyone can see: the difference in the flying mechanisms. Planes have fixed wings, that allow them to glide through the air at high speeds. The helicopter has rotors that spin very fast to generate lift. The helicopter’s propellers allow you to hover at a reasonably low level, meaning that you get more time to take in the sights.

Helicopters are legally allowed to get a lot closer to landmarks and buildings than a plane. This is because they’re much slower and easier to turn, making them safer for people on the ground. This makes helicopters perfect for sightseeing tours, because you’ll get a closer and clearer view!

When flying a helicopter, unlike in a plane, it is necessary for a pilot to use both their hands and feet on the controls simultaneously. Although this may seem more difficult for the pilot, it allows them to manoeuvre and turn the aircraft in a way that results in a very entertaining tour.

Is flying in a helicopter safe?

In short, yes. If you are being flown by a certified company with qualified pilots, we can promise you that you’ll be in safe hands! Helicopter pilots not only go through a lot of training to be able to fly, they are tested regularly to make sure they are still the best of the best.

I asked Heli Adventures, one of our biggest suppliers of helicopter tours across the UK, if (from their professional perspective) flying in a helicopter is safe. Here’s what they had to say:

“The key to flying in helicopters is to know who you are flying with. Make sure the operator has the required approval to be conducting the flight. For example, an Air Operators Certificate (AOC) for the purpose of sightseeing tours.

For a company to maintain an AOC, the pilots are required to be examined to a specific standard. Just as importantly, the aircraft must be maintained to a high standard too. 

There is a general misconception that if something stops working in a helicopter you will just fall out the sky. This is not true. All aircrafts have a level of mechanical redundancy and 'back-ups'. Millions are flown in helicopters every hour, each year, and if they weren't safe it simply wouldn't be allowed in this day in age.” – Edward (Heli Adventures Operations Manager)

What are the noise levels like on a helicopter flight?

I’m sure it will come as no surprise to you that helicopters are loud! The rotors are spinning through the air so fast, they are sometimes capable of exceeding the speed of sound - which is why you’ll be provided with a fashionable set of noise cancelling aviation headphones on your flight. They’re not just for looking good, they’ll allow you to hear everything the pilot says clearly, as well as communicate with everyone else onboard. So, don’t worry, all your questions for the pilot can be answered instantly!


What happens if the weather is bad on the day of my helicopter flight?

Helicopter flights are extremely weather dependant. Even though the pilots are highly trained, the passenger’s safety comes first, and flights are often cancelled due to weather. This doesn’t necessarily mean that there needs to be a wild storm with thunder and lightning for your flight to be cancelled. Flights may be cancelled due to low clouds that can restrict a pilot’s view, and wind, snow and rain can all interfere with the stability of the helicopter. But no need to worry, your flight will always be rearranged at no extra charge for a later date, ensuring that you are as safe as you can possibly be while in the air for the best experience possible - not to mention you’ll be able to see much better!

Are there any weight or height restrictions for flying in a helicopter?

Yes. The weight restrictions will vary depending on the size of the aircraft. You can always find out weight restrictions listed on an Experience Days product under Requirements. The most common weight limit for one of our helicopter rides is around 17 stone (108 KG) per person. It is extremely important for the safety of the aircraft and its passengers that this weight limit is not exceeded. If the weight limit is exceeded, this can cause failure during flight. For this reason, all passengers are weighed (fully clothed and with shoes on) before being allowed on the plane. Unfortunately, as the limit is so strict, if you are over the limit on the day, you will not be allowed on the plane! On some occasions, when the flight is not full up, you may be allowed to purchase an extra seat.

Height restrictions tend to be less common. If you meet the weight requirements, any height limitations will simply be based on the size of the helicopter and whether you can fit comfortably inside.

Can I ride in the co-pilot seat?

We sell several experiences where you can purchase the co-pilot seat for an additional fee. You’ll need to be under 14 Stone (88 KG) for this, and there’s only one available per flight. You may be wondering why is the weight limit so much lower for the co-pilot seat. This is all to do with the balance and weight distribution of the helicopter, and of course, overall for the safety of everyone onboard. But if you’re lucky enough to be within the weight limit, check out those views!

Are there any health/mobility restrictions for flying on a helicopter?

Helicopter companies are accustomed to elderly and less abled passengers, and they are always willing to try their hardest to accommodate everyone. The restrictions for less mobile passengers, however, can vary depending on the helicopter company and the size of their aircraft. Some have been able to accommodate passengers in wheelchairs in the past, whereas others will require a paying passenger to accompany an individual with mobility issues to ensure that they can assist them in and out of the aircraft safely. 

The air in a helicopter will be the same as the outside, so if you were worried about air pressure because of someone with breathing issues, this shouldn’t be a problem at all! 

Are there any age restrictions for flying in a helicopter?

The age restrictions for flying in a helicopter are very young. Rather than a specific age, if the child is old enough to no longer require a car seat, they are welcome onboard. Children are not permitted to sit on laps or share seats with an adult for safety reasons. Anyone under the age of 16 must always be supervised by a responsible adult. You may be wondering if there are any discounts for children onboard a helicopter flight? Unfortunately, there are not. No matter what age, if you are taking up a seat in the aircraft, you gotta pay!

Finally, what’s it like flying in a helicopter?

Last year our interns were lucky enough to try out the Towers and Tall Ships tour of Sussex. You can read all about their first time flying in a helicopter here: Helicopter Tour Staff Review


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