Hanging Out Of A Helicopter Over Manhattan

Helicopter Flights NYC
Open Door Helicopter Flights in New York
New York, New York

One of the best ways to see New York City is by air, and this scenic helicopter flight company lets you dangle your feet over famous Manhattan landmarks for amazing photos!

I’m a complete helicopter fanatic. Sometimes I think if I hadn’t become a travel blogger, I’d have become a professional helicopter pilot by now.

Soaring free above the clouds, hovering only hundreds of feet over mountains or buildings, able to take off and land almost anywhere.

Helicopters are incredible machines. While expensive, I try to hitch a ride in one whenever I can for a truly unique photography experience.

Plus, helicopters are just so much damn fun!

FlyNYON Helicopter
Eurocopter TwinStar AS355
Manhattan Helicopter Flight
Flying Over Manhattan Skyline

Scenic NYC Helicopter Flight

After all the times I’ve visited New York City over the years, I’ve never taken a scenic helicopter flight over Manhattan. It was Instagram that finally convinced me to take the plunge and splurge on an aerial photography helicopter adventure.

I started seeing these crazy “shoe selfies” showing up in my feed on popular accounts. Photographers were taking photos of their shoes floating over the Brooklyn Bridge, the Empire State Building, and Central Park.

A company called FlyNYON are the ones who make these epic Instagram shots possible with their crazy open-door scenic helicopter flights over some of Manhattan’s most famous landmarks.

Open Door Helicopter Tour
What a Crazy Helicopter Ride!
Shoe Selfie Photo
New York City Shoe Selfie!

Open-Door Photography Flight

Here’s the thing about aerial photography. For the best possible shots, you don’t want a window in front of your lens. So flying in a helicopter without doors is the perfect way to capture incredibly clear, crisp images from the air.

Anna and I began our adventure from Blade Lounge Heliport in midtown Manhattan, where the FlyNYON team briefed us on safety and asked where we wanted to go.

There were 4 of us going up, and we discussed which landmarks we should visit during our 15 minute helicopter flight. They also fitted us with full-body harnesses.

Flying a helicopter over New York without doors means you need to be strapped into a harness for safety. Your camera gear is also attached so it doesn’t fall on people below or get sucked up into the rotor.

You literally have your feet dangling outside the door on the skids!

Inside the Helicopter
Pilot Christi Rocking the Controls
Empire State Building
Empire State Building from the Sky

FlyNYON Helicopter Experience

Our badass pilot Christi brought us out to her sleek black Eurocopter TwinStar AS355 “Angry Bird” to be strapped in. Engines were powered up and off we flew into the sky!

We then soared past some of New York’s most iconic landmarks like Governor’s Island, the Brooklyn Bridge, Battery Park, One World Trade Center, the Empire State Building, and Central Park.

Earlier, Christi was yanking on my photography gear, making sure nothing would come apart once we were flying. I thought she’d been a bit rough…

Until I actually felt the force of those blades whipping around directly over my head 1000 feet in the air. It was like a mini-tornado!

Helicopter Photo Tour
Difficult Tail Rotor Shot
Central Park NYC
Flying Over Central Park

Incredible Aerial Adventure

At first it’s a bit unnerving to be sitting on the edge of a chopper thousands of feet in the air. But you slowly get more comfortable as the flight goes on.

Eventually I trusted the harness enough to lean out and feel the power of the wind as adrenaline coursed through my veins, shooting photos of the helicopter’s tail rotter.

When the helicopter banks sideways in a turn, you’re looking straight down at the tops of New York City’s massive skyscrapers, the only thing keeping you from plummeting to your death is those straps!

If you find yourself in New York, and want to have the experience of a lifetime, make sure to book an epic open-door ariel photography helicopter flight with FlyNYON. You won’t regret it. ★

Watch Video: Helicopter Over New York City

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Travel Planning Resources For Manhattan

Packing Guide

Check out my travel gear guide to help you start packing for your trip. Pick up a travel backpack, camera gear, and other useful travel accessories.

Book Your Flight

Find cheap flights on Skyscanner. This is my favorite search engine to find deals on airlines. Also make sure to read how I find the cheapest flights.

Rent A Car

Discover Cars is a great site for comparing car prices to find the best deal. They search both local & international rental companies.

Book Accommodation

Booking.com is my favorite hotel search engine. Or rent apartments from locals on Airbnb. Read more about how I book cheap hotels online.

Protect Your Trip

Don’t forget travel insurance! I’m a big fan of World Nomads for short-term trips. Protect yourself from possible injury & theft abroad. Read more about why you should always carry travel insurance.

Recommended Guidebook: Lonely Planet New York City
Suggested Reading: True Tales From the Life of a NYC Cop

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Hanging Out Of A Helicopter Over Manhattan. More at ExpertVagabond.com
Hanging Out Of A Helicopter Over Manhattan. More at ExpertVagabond.com


I hope you enjoyed my story about hanging out of a Helicopter over Manhattan! Hopefully you found it useful. Here are a few more wanderlust-inducing articles that I recommend you read next:

Would you fly in a helicopter without doors like this? Afraid of heights? Let me know in the comments below!


Hi, I’m Matthew Karsten — I’ve been traveling around the world for the last 10 years as a blogger, photographer, and digital nomad. Adventure travel & photography are my passions. Let me inspire you to travel with crazy stories, photography, and money-saving travel tips.
Matthew Karsten
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Comments (38)

  1. Hey Matthew, yes one of the best ways to see New York City is by air. If you’re a photographer visiting New York, a helicopter sightseeing tour will give you some of the greatest pics of your lifetime. Sights of Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty are awesome. Also, an aerial view of the skyscrapers will offer you many opportunities to capture amazing shots. 

  2. Well, it turns out that “doors off” helicopter rides and “shoe selfies” are exactly as dumb as they sound.

    • Photography flights have been taking the doors off of helicopters for years. Military does it all the time too. It’s just become more popular with tourists now, who are looking for some excitement.

      Aerobatic airplane flying and skydiving doesn’t really have any purpose either, other than an adrenaline rush. After doing all of these things, I can say they are totally worth it.

  3. Hi Matthew,

    I’m going to book a tour today.

    Do you think the 15 minutes one is enough to see the main landmarks ?

    It goes from $219 for the 15 minutes flight to $499 for the 30 minutes one… That’s quite a gap !

    Thanks for your reply !

  4. This looks like it was so much fun! I’ve lived in New York City all my life and have never done anything like this! Thanks for the tips :)

  5. Looking to take my brother on his first “sight seeing” helicopter tour considering his first experience he was airlifted to a hospital ; ). I work upstate now for the state police and don’t get to see him as much so I would love to give him a great experience. Please inform me of the detail including price, tour length, and sites.

  6. Wow!

    What amazing views Matt, I remember taking a trip with the water taxi on the Hudson, when the day was a clear as this, it was fantastic!

    What was your favourite thing to see from the air? or the most interesting?

  7. Hey Matt,

    This. Looks. Awesome.

    My Dad works in Helicopters – currently based in Brunei, Borneo – doing Search and Rescue. There’s absolutely no way to see a place quite like it. You get the height experience of a plane, without feeling rushed past the intricacies of what you’re seeing.

    If you (or anyone reading this) is ever in and around the UK, you can often find RAF Bases and Naval Bases doing air shows, where they’ll have an option to take you up in a Helicopter and show around, sometimes for free.

    Definitely checking this out when I’m next in Manhattan!



  8. Woah that’s amazing. How much does something like this cost? It’s definitely going on the office bucket list (we’re all crazy).

    • Haha. It took a minute for me to get comfortable hanging my legs over the edge like that! The wind/rotor wash up there is very strong too.

  9. I have flown in a helicopter without the doors before. The pilot said the weather was great so today we’re flying without doors. If you trust the seat belt system it’s a great experience!

  10. Fantastic way to experience the city in a whole new way!Nice that you had a sunny day to get some great shorts. Definitely a good advice for our next travels!. Thanks for the inspiration.

  11. Wow! The Central Park is more stunning in aerial view! :) Never tried this kind of photography before. Actually, I never tried flying in a helicopter. Got to cross that one out of my bucket list soon. :) Amazing shots by the way. :) And hey… at least you now have an aerial shoe selfie! :)

  12. I lived in Manhattan for 10 years – going to undergrad and law school and practicing law there – and I never did this. This is AWESOME!

  13. This looks amazing! I’m a bit terrified of heights but I think I would buck up for something like this. I think my biggest issue would be deciding which shoes to wear for the ultimate #whereIstand insta!

  14. I did a similar feet dangling helo flight across Thailand about 15 years ago. Any chance you get to ride feet dangling, take it!! Thanks for the great post and bringing up old memories.

  15. I guess the fact that my hands were sweating all through that video is probably a sign I should ride a doorless helicopter, right?

    • Yes! That’s the sign. You and open-door helicopters were made for each other Marie. It’s a great adrenaline rush!