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Monday, Mar 30, 2015
Out and about

Going to new heights

Hernando Today correspondent


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It may not be magic carpet ride, but it's a majestic flight just the same.

The aerial view is up close and personal.

The ability to hover in mid-air is captivating.

If you are game for an adventurous way to see the Bay Area's prominent landmarks, then a helicopter ride is the way to go.

Katie Dainson, helicopter pilot for Old City Helicopters in Tampa, said, "First time helicopter passengers often comment that the ride is a lot smoother than they anticipated. Most people expect the ride to be shaky or rollercoaster-like, but it is actually quite comfortable."

Helicopters can fly much lower than an airplane, thus, giving passengers a unique vantage point in the air.

"It's a fun way to sightsee." Dainson said. "Our helicopter can cover a lot of ground in a short amount of time.

"Much of the coastal area that we fly over is impossible to access without a boat, but from the air, our passengers can get a great view of the bay's landscape, the mangroves, and the bird islands."

For a real bird's eye view, Dainson explained that the Robinson R44 helicopter flies about 800 feet above downtown Tampa and as low as 300 feet above the bay waters to check out the marine life.

"During our tours, we fly next to and around the skyscrapers of Downtown Tampa," Dainson said. "We are able to spot animals at the Busch Gardens Safari, and if we get lucky, we will even see dolphins, manatees, sting rays and sharks over the bay. On our longer rides, we cruise past the Alafia River, Little Manatee River and over the Sunshine Skyway Bridge, Fort De Soto and St. Petersburg."

Old City Helicopters, based at Peter O. Knight airport in Tampa, offers flights daily, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Tours packages start at $39 per person, ranging in duration from 5 minutes to 45 minutes. Custom tours are also available on request. Besides Tampa, they also offer tours in St. Augustine and the Florida Keys.

"A helicopter ride can be an unforgettable way to celebrate a special occasion such as an anniversary, a birthday or a marriage proposal. We also offer romantic sunset and night flights," said Dainson.

Old City Helicopters can accommodate up to three passengers at a time.

"We can accommodate families of four and five people by splitting the group up into two flights, allowing the kids to fly a second time at no charge. We take children of all ages," said Dainson.

And undoubtedly, it would be a flight that any child would remember.

For more information, contact Old City Helicopters at (813) 254-1300 or visit www.tampa

Hernando Today correspondent Heather Francis can be reached at

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