Once upon a time, birds were the envy of humankind because of their unique view of the planet. For years, Leonardo da Vinci sketched and designed flying machines that could achieve vertical flight. It wasn’t until the early 1900s that first helicopter flights took place. This feat of modern engineering and ingenuity makes it possible to feel the thrill of liftoff and the ground falling away from you. Thanks to their ability to fly lower than planes and hover over points of interest, you’re rewarded with a jaw-dropping aerial perspective. When the leaves start turning, some landscapes deserve a view from above. Charter a jet to a beautiful fall destination, climb aboard a chopper, and prepare yourself for an unforgettable experience.
Hudson Valley, New York
Get an eyeful of New England’s brilliant colors with a foliage helicopter tour by Wings Air Helicopters, which offers private tours that begin in midtown Manhattan or the Westchester Airport. During the flight, you’ll soar over landmarks like the Tappan Zee Bridge, Bear Mountain, and West Point. Because fall coincides with grape harvesting season, Wings Air also offers fall vineyard tours and picnics on Long Island or Pennsylvania’s rolling hills. If you want to take great photos, opt for an open-door aerial photography flight of the Hudson Valley, Central Park and other landmarks.
During the fall, the sun sets over the Alaskan horizon in the early evening through late October. There’s no better way to enjoy its 16,000 square miles of glacier ice, endless alpine ridges, thriving rainforests, and hundreds of bodies of water than from the air. Temsco Helicopters in Juneau offers a brilliant launching pad for flights to one of the state’s most magnificent features, the Mendenhall Glacier and its azure crevasses, melt-water pools and spires of ice. As the leaves change color on the deciduous trees in the Alaskan tundra, dazzling red, orange, yellow and purple colors light up mountainsides. Thanks to the state’s abundance of wide open spaces, you’ll get a fantastic glimpse of the spectacle.
Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada
Sure, maybe you’ve already seen the splendor of Ontario’s Horseshoe Falls. But, have you seen it from above with beautiful fall foliage competing for attention? Tours by Niagara Helicopters take off from Victoria Avenue and takes you down the Niagara River to the Whirlpool Rapids, Rainbow Bridge, and Queen Victoria Park. The tour company also offers a spectacular Niagara wine tour in the area’s Fruit Belt that the Canadian Tourism Commission named a “Signature Experience.” The excursion takes you over Niagara Falls to the wineries of Niagara-on-the-Lake and includes a gourmet meal and tasting.
Ashville, North Carolina
Get a bird’s-eye view of the turning leaves at the scenic Blue Ridge Mountains, the Hickory Nut Gorge, Cascade Lake, Looking Glass Rock, DuPont State Forest, and Pisgah National Forest with a helicopter tour from Ashville Helicopters, which offers custom private flights along a variety of routes. The company’s latest offering is a Waterfalls Tour that reaches elevations of up to 4,500 feet, weather permitting. During the excursion, you’ll have a first-class view of Bridal Veil Falls, Lake Julia, Hooker Falls, Triple Falls, and High Falls surrounded by foliage in a kaleidoscope of colors.
North America isn’t the only land to be dazzled with mesmerizing displays of autumnal colors. Japan Flight Adventures takes you on a luxury helicopter tour that impresses with views of leaves turning around the Ryoan ji and Nanzen ji shrines, Kinkaku Ju (Golden Temple), Nijo Castle, and the area’s forests and glistening rivers. It’s true feast for your eyes and the ultimate leaf-peeping adventure.