You've probably seen helicopters hovering overhead from time to time, but you have never been in one before! Your first ride in a helicopter is bound to be exciting, and it will be even more so if you have an idea of what to expect. Here's a look.
1. It may get cold.
Regardless of the outdoor temperature, your ride in the helicopter can get a bit chilly. Wind will come through the cabin when the helicopter is running at top speed, and temperatures are a bit lower high up in the sky than they are down near the earth. To ensure you don't get too chilly, bring a light jacket with you. You can tie it around your waist or set it next to you when you board the helicopter and put it on later if you are chilly.
2. It can get bright.
Helicopters are typically light in color, and they have windows. Both of these qualities make for a lot of sunlight reflection. You can minimize reflection somewhat by choosing dark-colored clothing. Also, bring along a pair of sunglasses so you can protect your eyes if the glare gets too intense. If you are flying for more than about 30 minutes, you may also want to apply sunscreen prior to your flight. The windows on helicopters are not usually designed to block UV rays, so you could get sunburn on a long ride.
3. The ride will be noisy.
Imagine the level of noise you experience when riding above the engine in an airplane. The level of noise you experience in a helicopter will be about twice that much. Most people are not too bothered by the noise. Many helicopter pilots will provide you with earplugs to wear during the flight so you don't get too overwhelmed. If you are often bothered by noise and want to be absolutely certain you are protected, then you can bring your own headphones.
4. Certain items will be banned.
Helicopter flights usually only go a short distance, so you should not need too much while you're up there. Each company tends to have its own list of banned items -- which are usually prohibited mainly for safety reasons. Some items you can expect to be banned include firearms, knives and other hand weapons, hats (they can fly off and get caught in the helicopter's rotors), and aerosol substances. Reach out to your helicopter charter company prior to your flight for a specific list.
5. You may have to weigh in.
Do not be surprised if the helicopter company has you step on a scale prior to boarding the helicopter. This is not to shame you, and it is not an effort to exclude you based on weight. Rather, the company has to determine who to place in which seat in order to best balance the helicopter. After everyone is weighed in, seats will be assigned.
6. Bad weather may result in canceled flights.
Helicopters fly a lot closer to the earth than planes, so they are more affected by the weather. If it's raining lightly or there is some wind, that should not stop your flight from taking off. However, heavy rains and a lot of snow may result in your flight being delayed or canceled. Your pilot may just need to put off the flight for an hour or two until the weather improves a little.
Now you have a better idea of what will happen during your helicopter flight. If you have any additional questions, reach out the helicopter company through whom you booked your flight. They may have a handout or other resources for first-time riders. Get in touch with a company such as Helinet for more information.