A Melbourne based writer who is a travel junkie, dedicated foodie and emerging photographer.
Published January 18th 2014
Update July 14th 2014
The Bell 47 is operating out of Brisbane during the winter months. For more information, go to the website:http://bell47experience.com.au
Reaching dizzy heights in a Bell 47 M*A*S*H* helicopter
Earlier this week, I was fortunate enough to take a 45 minute flight in a 'bubble-nose' (Bell 47) helicopter - my first ever flight in a chopper. There are many companies offering helicopter flights in Melbourne, but only one offers this particular type of helicopter. If you remember the TV series M*A*S*H*, it is the same type of helicopter that was used in that show.
The advantage of the Bell 47 over other helicopters is that the visibility is superb - literally floor to ceiling windows. Also, it takes only two passengers at a time, and they're both seated next to the pilot, which means everyone has a front seat view. To further add to the viewing experience, the doors were removed for the flight. Don't worry, you're securely strapped in, it's quite safe!
My partner Dave standing next to the Bell 47
Departing from Essendon Airport, we first flew to the city and did a circuit - flying over the National Tennis Centre (where the Australian Open was in full swing) and the MCG, and then past Docklands and Melbourne city centre. Looping over the city again, we then headed to the beach (crowded on a very hot day), and travelled along the coastline as far as Brighton. We did a couple of exciting, if slightly gut-wrenching, steep turns, no doubt impressing the bathers below. Turning back to the city, we flew again over Docklands before returning to Essendon Airport.
We deliberately chose to take off about 30 minutes before sunset so that we'd be in the air at dusk. The sunset didn't disappoint! The reflections off the buildings were stunning.
I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. The views were fantastic and it was great to see Melbourne and the surrounding buildings and beaches from an elevated perspective. I only wish we had twice as long in the air.
While the photographic opportunities were superb, I will point out that it is challenging to shoot from a helicopter, as you have to compensate for both the motion of the helicopter and the vibration. A fast shutter speed is a must.
The cost depends on the duration of the flight. A 25 minute city circuit is currently available for $179 per person (regularly $225), with longer options available. More information on this can be found on the Bell 47 Experience website.
This unique experience would be a great (and unusual) gift for a loved one for Valentine's Day.