In 2016, I'm committed to sprinkling a little more exhilaration in my life. I've always loved that word, and more than that, I love that feeling you get when you step outside of the day's well-worn path and do something a little different and a little thrilling.
A helicopter ride fits the bill nicely! With flight maneuvering very different from an airplane, and a Harley-Davidson-esk, badass in the sky kind of aura, a helicopter ride felt like a fantastic chance put on some aviator sunnies and hit the road --err, horizon.
I soared over downtown Atlanta in this gleaming skybound chariot.
Sleeker than a blackberry, and barely much bigger, this baby is owned by the awesome local company Atlanta Helicopter, LLC.
I flew with owner Al Pereira, who runs a flight school and tour company seven days a week, offering Atlantans a birds-eye view of well known and secret areas of our city.
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As soon as I arrived on a sunny, 65-degree Saturday in January, we hopped in.
Buckling ourselves rather comfortably into this two-seater, two blade Robinson R22 helicopter.
He usually flies in a bigger copter, but I was in for the up-close and personal experience.
Which I most certainly got.
Hand on the the controls, feet on the pedals, there were moments when I was flying the helicopter, and I thoroughly freaked out about that a bit.
Listen, I like to think of myself as a bit intrepid. I've been skydiving before, lived in other countries, even wielded a machete a time or two. But I've got to tell you, sitting in a little globe with floor-to-ceiling windows hundreds of feet in the air was an entirely new experience for me! I'm not even scared of heights.
But man what a rush! And what beautiful views.
Once we lifted off from the airfield
we turned the helicopter northeast towards downtown, my stomping ground.
Small windows in the helicopter were open, letting in a nice rush of air, and I reminded myself that I was feeling air from hundreds of feet in the sky. The sun felt nice on my skin.
Many familiar sights came into view, though I'd never had the pleasure of seeing them from this angle:
Glittering before us like Emerald City.
The more you know, right?
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makes me chuckle because the horizon reminds me of rapper B.o.B.'s recent (and highly unfortunate) Twitter rant about the Earth being flat, a deluded assertion made all the better once renowned astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson weighed in on the topic and dropped the mic with an almost poetic "stay in your lane, Bobster."
The horizon looks plausibly curved to me, B.o.B. But even so, I also don't rely on my eyes to gauge something millions and millions times bigger than me. Just saying, lol.
We swept over Centennial Park, a place where I've seen many concerts, had picnics, splashed in the fountains, and explored the attractions nearby, like Skyview Atlanta, the Georgia Aquarium, the College Football Hall of Fame, the Center for Civil and Human Rights, and CNN, and more.
Speaking of CNN, that was my first job out of college! Hello CNN.
And do you remember how I once told you I've been known to screech my car to a halt if I see some interesting street art? Well, I did the equivalent of that in the copter.
Clearly I'm addicted to the many incarnations of public art in this town.
Throughout the ride, every sense in my body was heightened. The controls responded to our slightest touch, curving our trajectory this way and that, gusts of wind nudging us through the clear blue sky.
We chatted through the headphones and spied the helicopter's shadow dancing across the ground beneath us, blades spinning overhead, the whole of downtown Atlanta stretching before us, buildings glittering in the late afternoon sunshine.
I had an absolute ball.
If you're looking for a little exhilaration in your life, I recommend you give a helicopter a ride, especially if you're in the capable hands of Al and his team. Flights make excellent gift ideas for birthdays, anniversaries, or even Valentine's Day, and right now Atlanta Helicopter has a sweet Valentine's special for nighttime rides: 30 minutes of flying through the beautiful skylines of downtown and Buckhead for $120 per person. As the sun sets and city lights begin to twinkle, that would be quite romantic -- and very outside of the box!