In order to get the best views of New York City, you first have to go to New Jersey. Inside the former shipyard complex at Kearny Point is where you will find the 10,000 square foot terminal for FlyNYON, a company that provides “the ultimate aerial photo experience,” an adrenaline-boosting doors-off helicopter ride over Manhattan. FlyNYON’s flights make professional aerial photography services and incredible views accessible to the public, whether you are a casual Instagrammer, an actual pro, or simply along for the ride and chance to literally kick your feet up over the city’s skyline.
The excitement starts the moment you walk into the NYON Terminal. Beyond making sure that every guest has a good time, it is clear that safety is the staff’s number one priority. Upon entering the terminal, the friendly FlyNYON concierge check you in and take your weight. The six passenger seats on each flight are assigned by a computer program that distributes weight evenly throughout the aircraft. While you wait for take-off, you can entertain yourself with a game of corn-hole, buy a snack, get a preview of your flight inside a helicopter fuselage, or experience a virtual-reality simulation. There is even a camera rental desk from which you can rent a range of different cameras and lenses to capture the astonishing views you will see on your flight.
In light of the tragic fatal helicopter crash that happened in March, new and additional safety procedures have been added to the FlyNYON experience. Before each flight, guests watch a comprehensive safety video that details how to safely board and depart from the helicopter and what to do in any emergency situation. After the video, a staff member is on hand to address any additional questions or concerns. In the pre-boarding area, passengers on doors-off flights must empty their pockets and take off anything loose that may come off in-flight. All phones are placed in tightly-gripped holders and cameras must be on straps. The most important safety feature for each doors-off flier is the special harness that attaches you to the aircraft with a quick-release latch. The harness is worn in addition to a regular helicopter seatbelt to allow riders to take full advantage of the doorless experience by enabling them to safely hang their feet outside of the aircraft when over water. Part of the pre-flight safety procedure includes practicing to release the harness which would allow passengers to rapidly depart the aircraft in case of an emergency. Each flier is also equipped with a flotation device to use in case of an emergency water landing. Once everything is secured, it’s time to board the helicopter!
Since opening in 2012, FlyNYON in New York City has flown over 30,000 passengers and in 2017 earned the Eastern Region Helicopter Council (ERHC) Award for Ground and Flight Safety. Their pilots are trained annually by the aircraft factory and/or checked out by the FAA. FlyNYON’s CEO Pat Day is a third generation aviator in the northeast, so the aviation background of the company runs deep. At every step of the experience, staff and pilots ensure that all passengers feel comfortable and safe. Prior to take-off, equipment, seat-belts, and harnesses are safely secured and doubled checked.
We got to experience the doors-off helicopter flight at night and during the day and we honestly can’t choose which was better. Each flight path is custom tailored to stop by all of the landmarks you want to see. Any fear of heights or reservations about flying felt on the ground quickly melt away as the New York City skyline comes into view and you get to work snapping away. It is also important to put the camera down and appreciate this rare perspective of the city. It almost feels unreal to look at the Empire State Building from above the Empire State Building, or to fly down the East River over the Williamsburg, Manhattan and Brooklyn bridges as the wind whips your hair, or to swing your feet out over the Jackie Onassis Reservoir in Central Park – but you will have the (impressive) pictures to prove it.
FlyNYON was started by a group that originally worked on helicopter film shoots for movies like the Avengers, Mission Impossible, and The Wolf of Wall Street, so it was this type of visually focused experience that they wanted to bring to the public with crowdfunded flights. Having the doors-off means that there is nothing obstructing the view between you and the amazing sights of the city. If getting the perfect snap isn’t your main priority, the company does offer traditional doors-on flights. Both types of flights can be taken in 15 minute or 30 minute increments, and there are special flights for holidays like the 4th of July, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade and New Year’s Eve. Scroll down to check out more pictures from our flights!
FDR Four Freedoms Park on Roosevelt Island
Top of the Empire State Building
The Williamsburg, Manhattan and Brooklyn bridges along the East River
Fort Jay on Governor’s Island