My Helicopter Fetish

Abby Tegnelia


I can’t believe it was such a short time ago that I had never been on a helicopter. Now? After three trips in such a short amount of time, I can’t believe what a wonderful way it is to see landscapes such as the Las Vegas Strip. It seems like ages ago that I thought I’d been the least bit scared — but it takes off straight up and with such smoothness that it truly feels like a car in the sky, as close to the Jetsons as I’ll ever get. My most recent trip was with Heli USA, which just happened to my first also. This time, I didn’t go camping with real cowboys at the Grand Canyon Ranch, but instead opted for a nighttime tour of the Strip. And just a few weeks ago, I got another taste with Papillon helicopters. This time, how fun to see such a familiar, glitzy place from  the sky at night!

Who hasn’t wanted to cruise the nighttime Strip in a helicopter? I joined my friend Kristen, whose blog Swanky Dietitian I’ve come to rely on for great recipes and inspiration for fun activities around Vegas, for an 8:30 pm ride. We kicked off with a glass or two of champagne in the hanger before taking off.

Abby Tegnelia Heli USA Vegas

Abby Tegnelia Kristen Bourque

We were so excited! ©swankydietitian


Of course when they asked for a volunteer to ride up front with the pilot, my hand shot up like an over-eager second-grader. I needn’t have worried: Aside from Kristen and I, the rest of the passengers were tourist couples, who recoiled from the pilot’s offer. Me, I was thrilled!

Heli USA

Up front with the pilot!


The Strip is so exciting at night — all aglow. The new casinos are so sleek and modern now, but a part of me misses the themed hotels. How can you say no to that Eiffel Tower?

Heli USA Strip Paris



The most surprising part of the trip? How close we got to the Stratosphere! It happens to be the home of my favorite ride, Big Shot. I couldn’t believe how close we were to the top of the tallest hotel in Vegas, which has always felt so high up in the air!

Heli USA Stratosphere


I was a guest of  activity gurus Cloud 9 Living, but all opinions are my own. Interested in having your own adventure in Vegas? Win your an experience by entering Cloud 9 Living’s 9 Days of Christmas.

From December 16th through the 24th, they will draw one daily winner for the following prizes, culminating with the Grand Prize drawing on December 24th:

  • Day 1 Prize: Flight – Learn to Fly
  • Day 2 Prize: Relaxation – Spa Package
  • Day 3 Prize: Driving – Drive a Stock Car & Stock Car Ride Along
  • Day 4 Prize: Foodie – Food Tour for Two
  • Day 5 Prize: Golf – Golf Lesson with a PGA Pro
  • Day 6 Prize: Romance – Dinner Cruise for Two
  • Day 7 Prize: Adventure – White Water Rafting for Two
  • Day 8 Prize: Adrenaline – Tandem Skydiving
  • Day 9 Prize (GRAND PRIZE): Experience of a Lifetime – Fighter Pilot for a Day

And please check out Swanky Dietitian — she’s super-fab!

 Vegas isn’t the only city with Cloud 9. My friends at Santa Fe Travelers went on a food extravaganza with them in Denver. Have you ever taken an adventure with this company? How did it go?

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I'm a life-long travel junkie journalist who works hard to find adventure in everyday life after two years of travel and expat living.

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  1. Hard to find something on there I wouldn’t do! too bad it’s not open to Canada 😛

  2. Seriously such a cool way to see Vegas!!! I have only been on a helicopter once when I was in Kauai. Would love to do it again soon.

  3. I am so happy I have a sidekick! 🙂
    I had such a great time with you!

  4. I was not sold on our helicopter tour in Oahu and did it because my dad really wanted to, but I ended up enjoying it. A ride over the Vegas lights sounds fun!

  5. I don’t know if I could ever have the courage to ride on a helicopter, but maybe if I’d be given a chance.. hmm I’ll think about it (lol) But I’m glad that you’re enjoying it. The views from the top though really are amazing.. the most recent was when I ride on the London Eye, the city looks so cool at night. I will soon try viewing it from the Shard.. and now a helicopter idea. ohlala :>

  6. I am so with you on the helicopter love. They ROCK! When I was a kid, I wanted to be a helicopter pilot (alas, my poor vision did not allow). Still, I’ll go up in one any chance I get. 🙂

  7. I have never been with a helicopter, but I always imagined my first time in a helicopter will be in USA and why not above Las Vegas.

  8. Chris Murphy says:

    You will have to do a helicopter flight the next time you are in Hawai’i, it’s a great way to see an individual island.

    I would have jumped at the chance to be up front too!

  9. I don’t think I’ll be going on a helicopter ride for a long while, considering my personal tragedy this year. But I can’t imagine a better way to see your home city than from above. I’ve always love seeing the lights when I approach Vegas on a plane.

  10. I would have volunteered to fly shotgun, too! In fact, I did just that on a tiny prop plane from Martha’s Vineyard to Boston Logan (after elbowing my way onto the only flight off the island that day–in the fog. A flight that I was not scheduled to be on. But that’s a story for another time…)

    I’d LOVE to see the strip from the air–and the Grand Canyon excursion is on my list, too. Gee I wonder if I could find a cheap flight to Vegas for next week…hmmm…

  11. Loved this post! Hard to believe (because hubby is a flight instructor) but I haven’t been in a helicopter yet, just because it’s so darn expensive. I should have asked Cloud 9 for that experience…sounds like you had a blast. Love your expression—priceless! 🙂

  12. I think helicopter tours just got a new ambassador! 😉

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