Pilots are the cowboys of the air, roaming the wide-open skies and herding children’s runaway balloons. Giddy up, up, and away with today’s Groupon: for $229, you get a brunch tour from Heloventure Helicopter in Petaluma (a $460 value). The tour includes:
- A helicopter flight for two; a third guest can be added for an additional cost as long as all three guests’ combined weight isn’t more than 550 pounds
- $25 worth of breakfast or lunch for two at the Two Niner Diner; items range from $8.50 to $13.95
Accomplished commercial pilots and aviation enthusiasts loft passengers over stunning California cityscapes and winery views. The chopper soars over the Sonoma Mountain Estates into Sonoma Valley, allowing eyes to imbibe the vineyards and estates below. Tours head up the Petaluma River, opening up stunning views of San Francisco, Oakland, North Bay, and the bridges that keep them from drifting into the ocean. The copter circles near the Infineon Raceway and over Napa Valley, allowing passengers to check out the season’s arboreal trends before landing back at the airfield.
Guests relive flights over breakfast or lunch at the Two Niner Diner, a cozy restaurant located at the airfield. Diners watch small aircraft take off and land on the airstrip as semaphores usher in fluffy hotcakes, ham and egg plates, and steamy sandwiches such as the grilled pastrami and cheese. The California burger loads a third-pound Angus patty with pepper jack cheese and avocado, served up with a side such as Hanger fries, salad, or potato salad. Cuisine is served until 1:30 p.m., so brunch-tour customers should plan accordingly if they want to spend chopper time exploring the valleys rather than plundering their produce.
Heloventure founders can say they've probably seen the Golden Gate Bridge from above more often than they've seen it from below. That's because in 2010, the aviation-loving duo joined their piloting experience and passion for flight with the purchase of an R44 Clipper helicopter, which they now use to give area tours, hands-on introductory flight-instruction, and even aerial support for professional and amateur photographers. Heloventure was born with that acquisition, with the duo respectively having 20 years of piloting experience and 10 years of hands-on mechanic experience and organizing lessons and instruction.
Since its start, the business has expanded from commercial flights to performing scenic tours by helicopter and airplane that grant stunning panoramic views of the Pacific Coast and Napa and Sonoma wine region, while Mt. St. Helena. Mt. Diablo. and Mt. Tamalpias rise high above the endless valleys. For passengers who want even more control in their sky travel, Heloventure's flight-instruction program grants its students ground instruction and flight time in either a Robinson R-44 chopper or in a fixed-wing airplane. As students learn to properly pilot their aircraft, they get a gleam of the forces that drive pilots to do what they do, and they learn the dangers of decorating one's home only from in-flight shopping magazines.