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Doors Off NYC

Brendon Hayward


Behind the Shot

On an average day, a tourist helicopter flies over New York City’s major landmarks every five minutes, seven days a week, 356 days a year. More than 50,000 helicopter flights take off from Manhattan’s heliports each year. That number is doubled when heliports and airports nearby in New Jersey are added. The Brooklyn Heights Association, which tracks activity at the Downtown Manhattan Heliport, notes that 80% of the helicopter traffic is “non-essential,” and the majority of that is “tourist traffic.”

For a standard tourist flight, a quick 12 to 15 minute trip up the Hudson River is the most common. From this vantage point, about 1,400 feet above the river, tourists can see all the major attractions from the comfort of their climate-controlled seats. Like anything, though, the more you are willing to spend, the longer the flights and the more varied the route. A completely private charter will fly essentially anywhere over the city where air traffic is not restricted.