What do you give the woman or man who has everything? It's a challenge that a lot of us have to grapple with as birthdays of loved ones loom. Sometimes we are lucky enough to be given an enormous hint. Other times, however, we are trawling the internet and walking through department stores with more than an air of desperation. So when one of my very good friends gave me an unusual present I was delighted, intrigued and ready to experience what was on offer.
I had never travelled in a helicopter before and thought it might be nice to share it with my husband so I booked an extra place and we took to the skies on a gorgeous sunny day where you could see to Moreton Bay.
Archerfield Airport is an easy 30-minute journey from Brisbane. We arrived a little ahead of time knowing there may be formalities to comply with but in fact there was minimum paper work, a very warm welcome and within minutes we were walking through the hangar and onto the airfield where our helicopter was waiting.
Our pilot gave us a safety briefing and we took a few photos standing by the helicopter, which was called Raven II. It was small and compact with a lot of glass windows so excellent viewing all round. It only takes three passengers and the pilot.
We clambered in and put on our safety belts and our headsets. The noise from the engine warming up is quite loud so we could speak to each other through the mike system without having to shout.
The helicopter took a little while to warm up. We watched the big rotor blades turning faster and faster and soon we were ready to lift off. It's a completely different sensation to taking off in a plane where basically the thrust of the engines pushes you back into your seats. Here you float upwards and twist sideways as if on a magic carpet and slowly all the area below comes into view with neat gridded neighbourhoods, azure pools and green parks. The Brisbane River snaked in and out. It was not long before we headed to the CBD and, amazingly, we can come quite close to the skyscrapers there. We were hovering at about 1000 ft and enjoying the views of the river and the skyscrapers, the northwestern suburbs and Suncorp Stadium before we looped round and started heading back.
Methi, our trusted pilot, brought the helicopter in to land exactly where we had taken off, a gentle setting down, unlike anything you experience on a plane, where you have the sensation of being forced back in your seat and brakes making unmistakable contact with the earth. Almost imperceptibly, as if on a cushion, we were on the ground and we waited for the rotor blades to come to a stop, talking about the cityscapes and what we had enjoyed.
It was exhilarating and different to anything I had ever done, and the nervous anticipation somehow adds to it all. We all had a lovely morning and felt alive and energetic coming back down to earth.
There are many choices available so you can look on the website and choose the one which appeals to you, from Mount Coot-tha to the Brisbane CBD, to Moreton Bay and Stradbroke Island.You can even tailor make your own. Prices vary depending on where you are going and, while the journeys are not particularly long, I think they provide good value given the experience which is on offer.
Try something different which makes a perfect present and an experience to remember.