Fly a Helicopter

It’s not as terrifying as you would think

If you like having an unobstructed view of the Las Vegas Valley from 500 feet while zipping around at 65 mph, you’ll love Monarch Sky’s helicopter adventure. Even better: They let you fly.

The Henderson company’s introductory Discovery Flights include training on six different aircraft, but my choice was the Robinson R-22 two-seater helicopter. For $130, you get the full treatment: lessons, safety procedures, how to do a thorough preflight inspection of the craft and a thrilling 30-minute flight.

“The most common reaction by people when they take the controls for the first time is being overly cautious and white-knuckled,” says John, the personable chief pilot. “But once they get past that, you almost always see them smiling ear-to-ear throughout the entire flight.”

The R-22 is a pretty simple aircraft. I got the basics of how it works in about 30 minutes and was later able to take the controls and steer for a bit. Once you get past the adrenaline of it all, the main challenge is learning to approach flying with as little effort as possible. You don’t want to force the controls any more than you would using your car’s turn signal.

Being a real helicopter pilot is a different story. It takes quite a bit more time (a year or two) and money (up to $70,000). As much as I liked the feeling and the view, I think I’ll quit while I’m ahead.

Monarch Sky, 1420 Jet Stream Dr., Henderson;

Get directions.

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