helicopterLooking for a new way to view the Niagara Falls? In addition to standing next to the falls, going behind the falls and seeing them from the water, you can also get a bird’s eye view from the sky in a helicopter.

Niagara Helicopters has been taking to the skies since 1961, when it began as a pilot training facility. Now, it operates almost exclusively a sightseeing operation, along with some charter, aerial photography, aerial surveillance and frost flying work.

This past yeaDSC_8908r, the company flew more than 100,000 passengers on its regular 30-km ride over Niagara Falls; on a busy weekend in September, the company reports it grosses more than PanAir Helicopters did for the entire year.

My family and I took a ride on Niagara Helicopters during our visit to the Falls. After donning headphones (through which we could communicate with the pilot, as well as listen to the recorded commentary during the flight), my husband, two kids and me boarded the chopper, buckled our seatbelts and quickly took off. The flight lasted a very fast 12 minutes and provided opportunity for unique photos and video. The kids watched excitedly out the window as we flew over the falls, Whirlpool area, Skylon tower and other notable sights. I snapped photos while my husband held the video camera, his camera and our youngest child (2 years), and took video and photos at once.

{youtube}DCQ7xjs86FU{/youtube}

The video appears shaky because the digital video camera we were using, Kodak Playsport, has “built-in electronic image stabilization” (EIS). Most camcorders offer the option of turning this off (and if we had known that this would happen, IMG_1378we would have turned it off). The vibration of the helicopter’s blades caused the camera to think the camera wasn’t being held steady — although, in fact, it was, hence the unsteadiness of the shot.

Niagara Helicopters was indeed a once in a lifetime experience, and a spectacular way to both see the falls and share a memory together.

Disclosure: My family received a complimentary helicopter ride from Niagara Helicopters. Opinions expressed in this article are my own.

DSC_8869