As an aerial photographer, it makes sense for Jeff Codman to pilot a 2013 Robinson R-44. The viper-red aircraft affords him unlimited freedom of movement, nearly 360-degree visibility, and the ability to hover and swoop like a hummingbird as he dips 100 feet above the earth to snap shots of sailboats, unusual toupees, and ocean-side mansions.
Now, with Bird's Eye View Helicopters? tours, Mr. Codman grants guests the same breathtaking aerial views in the helicopter that he?s enjoyed for more than 25 years. The Fall Foliage tour transports guests over a patchwork quilt of red and orange foliage, and the Island Tour traces a route above Ocean Drive and historic lighthouses. Mr. Codman even lets amateur pilots take the reins during a 25-minute introductory flight.
Located just outside Boston, Blue Hill lets aspiring pilots navigate both the busy airspace above the city and the more difficult flying conditions around the White Mountains. A full-scale flight simulator preps beginners before they can receive one-on-one lessons from an instructor in a two-seat Schweizer 300C helicopter, which accommodates both commercial or private flying tracks. The copter also ferries passengers above the city at dusk or carries riders home to the nest where flying machines roost at night.
From their nests at Plymouth Municipal Airport and Norwood Municipal Airport, New England Helicopter Academy?s Schweizer Model 300 helicopters lift fledgling aviators into the skies for flights ranging from introductory runs to intensive training courses. Combining the choppers? precise handling with academy president Rick Smith?s rigorous training regimen, pilots-to-be learn to expertly handle real-life flying situations such as landing at uncontrolled airports, flying in inclement weather, and airlifting bananas to King Kong. In addition to serving as mid-air classrooms, choppers also treat students to sky-high sightseeing, with training flights often motoring over New England landmarks including the Cape Cod coastline and cities such as Boston and Providence.
An FAA-approved helicopter-flight tour operator, North Andover Flight Academy employs five licensed instructors with combined flight and teaching experience that numbers in the thousands of hours. Fledgling aviators can begin their aeronautical journeys at Lawrence and Marlboro Airports, which serve as home bases for services that range from tours and photography flights to full pilot-certification courses and agricultural applications. The team commands a fleet of six Robinson helicopters, including one R44 and five R22s, and keeps Robinson factory-trained mechanics on staff to ensure their safe operation and to ice down their blades after particularly vigorous training flights.