Grand Canyon - Helicopter Tour

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January 11, 2000 - Grand Canyon Helicopter Tour

The "I was there" shot in front of the Bell helicopter (87107 bytes) I was still about a half hour early for check-in at the airport with Papillon Grand Canyon Helicopters, and since I was the only person signed up for my flight, they upgraded me to the Imperial Tour. This was a one hour flight, versus the 25 minute tour I paid for.  So, I experienced the deluxe tour instead of the least expensive tour I paid for, thanks to Papillon.

They already had a Spanish couple booked for the Imperial Tour. I have a feeling another reason for the switch was because President Clinton was visiting Hopi Point on the West Rim, and the Imperial Tour is an East Rim tour - avoiding airspace that was undoubtedly restricted. While waiting, I spotted 3 Coyotes at the tree line on the far side of the heliport. They were smaller than I expected - the size of medium sized dogs.

Looking north over the lip of the eastern Canyon (57004 bytes)
Looking north over the lip of the eastern Canyon from the Cocnino Plateau
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Looking north east at Marble Canyon
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Vishnu Temple and Freya Castle on the right side, looking west from Cape Royal area 
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Looking north along Colorado River near Desert View, with the flat top of Cardenas Butte in the foreground

This was my first helicopter flight, and I liked it. It was much bumpier than I expected, so I had to switch my digital camera from "auto" to "manual". Manual mode gave me Best Shot Selection, which helped to salvage some otherwise shaky shots (most taken at 1/60 or 1/125) while the helicopter pitched, rolled, and alternately floated or sunk. The air currents, especially along the North Rim, were strong...much to the concern of the Spanish woman sitting next to me!

Cape Solitude (72346 bytes)
Cape Solitude east of Cape Royal, Colorado River
Either Jupiter Temple or Siegfried Pyre (102237 bytes)
Either Jupiter Temple or Siegfried Pyre ??
east of Cape Royal
Rock striations, Colorado River, Cardenas Butte(UL) (73907 bytes)
Looking east toward Desert View, with rock striations clearly visible in the Canyon beside the Colorado River
Colorado River, the Canyon floor (50869 bytes)
Colorado River, the Canyon floor, looking southeast from the North Rim
Point Imperial, North Rim (86050 bytes)
Point Imperial, North Rim
Mount Hayden and Point Imperial, North Rim (67274 bytes)
Mount Hayden and Point Imperial, North Rim

We went in an anti-clockwise direction, east over Coconino Plateau and the Desert View region, then looped across the Colorado River to Point Imperial, the highest peak at Grand Canyon at 8,803 ft. Then we cruised along the North Rim westward to a point east of the village, then back over the forested Coconino Plateau and back to the airport.

I'm still not convinced of the safety of helicopters, but I saw some country I most certainly would not have seen otherwise. I took a photo of Air Force One on the apron at Grand Canyon Airport before driving back to the hotel.

Air Force One at Grand Canyon airport (60944 bytes)As I mentioned previously, President Bill Clinton was visiting the Grand Canyon the same day I was touring around.  Here is a shot of Air Force One, the jetliner he was taking back to Washington, D.C.  Note the cluster of Huey helicopters hovering just off the ground around the aircraft.  I guess that means the President of the United States is a V.I.P!



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