The friday of Labour Day weekend, I had the day off to make it a 4 day weekend. I decided to go to the CNE as I’d tragically never been there, after living in Toronto for 10 years. I brought my camera along as I was sure to find some stuff to shoot. Early in the afternoon, fighter planes (F-16, F-22) were flying overhead, practising for the airshow the following day. I also saw helicopters overhead as I was wandering around in the rides, but I thought it must have been part of the airshow practise as well. As I made it further through the park, I came to an area where the helicopters were taking off. You could take an actual helicopter ride instead of just spinning around on the Tilt-A-Whirl or the Scrambler.
I’d always wanted to take a helicopter ride but never figured I would have a chance to do so. I’ve flown a small cessna and a glider before when I took some flight lessons. I’ve also been a passenger in some small commuter planes and even a seaplane. But never a helicopter. Flying is in my blood…my grandfather was a pilot. I remember when I was a kid, my dad telling me about flights he’d taken in choppers and I always daydreamed about what that would be like. The difference in takeoff and unrestricted vertical and horizontal movement is what I wanted to experience. The opportunity was staring me in the face.
If the price was right, I was in. A quick ride was only $35. That’s the kind of cash I could throw down. How could you refuse for that price? But for how long do you get to ride in the mechanical birdl? 3.5 minutes. $10/minute! Still worth it in my book, so I waited in line to pay. There was a 40 minute lineup to take your flight, but since I was flying solo, there was a family of 3 just about to go up that I could jump in with. Perfect timing. And since the chopper only flies 4 passengers, 3 in the back, 1 up front, I got to sit up front with the pilot so the family could sit together. What a score! I went from eating cotton candy to riding shotgun in a helicopter in less than 5 minutes.
The flight was really fun even though it was short. The experience of takeoff and landing is obviously much different than a plane. The chopper smoothly lifted off the ground, pointed the nose down towards the end of the short “runway” and we took off, heading west over the Gardiner Expressway and Ontario Place. We continued out over the water a bit, turning north into the city and back east towards the downtown core. It was a great view of the CN Tower and skyscrapers.
And then it was all over. We headed down for a landing, flying to the runway westbound. The chopper flew across to the end to slow the speed, banked around 180 and returned to the other end of the runway, rotating and softly landing. A quick unboarding and the classic running crouch away from the helicopter you always see on tv and it was complete.
A good fun time, I’d definitely recommend it for anyone that likes flying. HeliTours.ca was running it and they also do other tours around Toronto.