Helicopter Flying, Aruba

For several years, I’ve wanted to take the helicopter tour of Aruba. I know the island very well from ground level, and I’ve seen it when arriving and departing via commercial aircraft. However, it was time to see it from about 500 above ground level. In order to stay on budget, I combined a bit of sight-seeing with a real estate photo mission. Worked out perfectly. So, here’s a video showing takeoff from the Seaport Marina, flying north along the low- and high-rise hotel area to the Marriott Complex. Next, we turned inland toward Paradera then south to Spanish Lagoon and my neighborhood of Savaneta. From there it’s inland toward the windmills at Vader Piet, an important location in my next novel, Hacha’s Gold. Finally, a turn north and west, past the Palo Margo raceway and along the coast to the heliport. Check it out.

The pilot did an excellent job of orbiting around the sites I wanted to photograph. There is a fair amount of traffic in and out of the Queen Beatrix Airport, which is very close to where we were flying. He had to juggle the control tower’s orders while navigating to and from my requests. The flight wasn’t cheap, but it was worth every cent. If you’re in Aruba, don’t miss the chance to see the island from up there.

Bon dia from Aruba.


Robinson, R44

The Robinson R44, (Raven II) helicopter is a small, piston engine powered machine. Yesterday was my first time at the controls.

I’ll say this much, flying a helicopter is completely different than flying an airplane. Of course! Well, helicopters are not inherently stable, which means you have to maintain control at all times. The venerable Cessna 172 that I wing around in, will practically fly itself. Anyway, the fellow at my local airport offered to give me an introduction to helicopter flying and I literally jumped at the chance. Here he is conducting the preflight inspection of the ship.

For this flight, I took to the right seat; he was on the left. We hovered out over the taxiway to a grassy spot where we conducted some fundamental maneuvers. Very tricky indeed. The thing to remember is that the craft is literally floating so any small touch of input or wind and it moves. Keeping it in position requires a delicate, yet assertive touch. Take a look at the instrument panel.

That basic panel does the trick. An altimeter, a couple of gyros, some radios, a GPS unit. You’re good to go. Remember, every bit of weight requires lots more power. Therefore, helicopters keep things as simple and light as possible. I would have taken some photos from the air, but both hands are constantly busy on the controls. No matter. I’ll be up again soon and snap a few with the other fellow in command.