I received the most amazing gift for Christmas—a Groupon Deal for a helicopter tour of Los Angeles and Hollywood. I’ve lived in L.A. for nearly all of my life but had never seen the city like this before. Starting off at Whiteman Airport, a municipal airport in the north San Fernando Valley that I’d never heard of before, the sexy red Robinson R44 Clipper II helicopter gracefully lifted off and swooped southeast toward Hollywood. We passed over the suburban sprawl of “The Valley,” then over Universal Studios before crossing over Mount Lee, the home of one of the most famous landmarks in the world—the Hollywood Sign. The chopper flew over the Hollywood Reservoir and downtown Hollywood, where we could spot famous sights like the Hollywood Bowl, Capitol Records building and new W Hotel below. Looking west we could see Beverly Hills, Century City, Westwood and Santa Monica, with the Pacific Ocean just visible through the morning fog (or “marine layer” as we Angelenos like to call it.) It was even clear enough to see Catalina Island in the far distance.
The helicopter then continued southeast toward downtown L.A. where it did a counter-clockwise loop around the city center. From this high vantage point, we could see all of the skyscrapers and landmark buildings, including the U.S. Bank Tower (the tallest building west of the Mississippi River), The Staples Center, L.A. Live and the new Ritz Carlton Hotel. The iconic Frank Gehry-designed Walt Disney Concert Hall shimmered below in the morning sun. We also passed over L.A. City Hall, The Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, the High School for the Visual and Performing Arts and Chinatown. Then we got a really cool view of Dodger Stadium with downtown framed perfectly in the background. It’s amazing how enormous its parking lot is!
We then continued in a northwesterly direction, passing over Silverlake Reservoir and the famous Griffith Park Observatory, heading toward the Hollywood Sign once again. After hovering for some good photo ops, we flew over the Cahuenga Pass to the Valley for our return to Whiteman Airport. The helicopter passed over numerous cookie-cutter homes dotted with glimmering, blue swimming pools on its way.
A helicopter tour of Los Angeles was a real treat. I would definitely recommend it to tourists to Los Angeles as a complement (or even as an alternative) to the ubiquitous hop-on, hop-off buses or celebrity homes tours. The company we flew with was Adventure Helicopter Tours. Pilot Art Romero was very friendly and knowledgeable of the sights of the City of Angels. I would love to take another tour someday!