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It's one thing to spend an evening strolling or cruising along Las Vegas Boulevard. Experiencing it from above is a completely different story.
One of the ways to fully take in the glitz and glamour of the Las Vegas Strip is by helicopter flight at night.
From the dazzling lights of the city's five-star hotels to the endless beam of the Luxor pyramid, passengers viewing the city from up in the sky will appreciate the bright, fluorescent colors the Strip has to offer.
"It's breathtaking," said Mike Tajak, a helicopter pilot in Las Vegas. "They're just overwhelmed by the scenery. I've seen reactions from passengers literally screaming with exuberance… to silence. Everybody [is] totally awed by the view."
Before the helicopter experience, guests have the chance to relax, unwind and sip on a glass of champagne. After a brief safety orientation video, the adventure over the world-famous Strip begins.
Once they've boarded the helicopter at the launching pad, passengers get a breathtaking aerial glimpse of hotels such as New York -- New York, Bellagio, Paris Las Vegas, Venetian, Wynn Las Vegas and the towering 1,149-foot-tall Stratosphere Tower, to name a few.
In addition, the helicopter ride also includes a flight over Fremont Street and historic Downtown Las Vegas.
"We make sure the passengers enjoy their flight, have some time to look around and enjoy the view," Tajak said. "Even though I don't own Las Vegas, I like sharing it with everyone else from around the country or around the world. This is the destination that they see on television, so it's actually a privilege for us to take them up there and show them around town."
While the ride may be more than a thousand feet above the ground, Tajak assured that there is no reason to be afraid.
"I actually know a couple of pilots who are scared of heights," he admitted. "They can't go next to a 10-foot balcony, but if you get them a thousand feet above the ground, they're fine!"
He continued: "It's a relatively short flight in a sense we're not in the air for an hour. Normally, [passengers] are so overwhelmed by the visual aspect about Las Vegas, they forget about being scared."
The helicopter ride is also the opposite of bumpy and choppy. "The flight is much smoother than expected," he explained. "The pilots do a good job in making sure the passengers are very comfortable during the flight."
Even kids get a kick out of the helicopter ride: "There is no age limit for the rides, but the older the child, the more they seem to appreciate what is going on around them," Tajak explained. "Most of the children react as though it is a big video game, and they seem to enjoy the entire flight especially the part where the helicopter is hovering."
Passengers have the option to purchase a keepsake of their personal helicopter experience, which is filmed by an expert camera person and recorded onto a DVD.
Romance in the sky
Whether it's celebrating that special occasion or simply starting off the evening in style, helicopter rides are popular with couples.
"A guy [once] booked the whole helicopter for his girlfriend and their friends," shared Tajak. "Halfway through the flight, he proposed marriage and gave her an engagement ring. Everyone cheered and his girlfriend started to cry. It was truly a surprise for her and a very touching moment."
In addition, out-of-towners aren't the only ones enjoying a night flight over the Strip -- Las Vegas residents enjoy it just as much. One Las Vegas passenger recently decided to surprise his girlfriend for her birthday.
Before the helicopter ride, he blindfolded her to keep her in suspense.
"She had no idea," LeChaunce Shepherd said, smiling.
"When [the helicopter] takes off, it kind of feels like you're going to fall out!" Kim Pearson exclaimed.
"I felt it was an exciting ride," Shepherd said. "It was nice to see the Strip from a different view. I think you should add this to your list of Vegas must-do's."
"Everything's so small!" she added.
Everyone who takes the helicopter tour is bound to have their favorite views.
"Both of us like the pool at Caesars Palace," he said. "I thought the City Center project was really nice, too."
Taking a helicopter ride above the Las Vegas Strip lets you appreciate the town in a whole new way. Sometimes, the most exciting thing about the Las Vegas nightlife isn't inside a hotel, but thousands of feet above it.
"This is like Christmas twenty-four seven, three hundred sixty-five days a year," Tajak said. "It's just awesome."
This tour does not include transportation to and from the hotel. However, the drive is less than one mile east from the Tropicana hotel. Guests will need to provide their own transportation to the following address:
235 E. Tropicana Ave. Suite 120
Las Vegas, NV 89169.
For each guest weighing more than 275 pounds an adjacent empty seat is required to safely balance the aircraft. Tour company will charge a reduced rate for the adjacent seat at the time of check-in.
-- Review by Jeannie Borbe
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