Can anyone offer advice on a good helicopter tour to take in Switzerland? Thank you in advance!
Where in Switzerland? It is too vague. Bear mind the excessive regulation mentality "chime in" the Swiss as well. In some valleys, panoramic leisure helicopters rides are forbidden under a silly guise of "not disturbing the environment and the expectation of quietness of trekkers and inhabitants".
Right so we will fly helicopters over your house every 20 minutes or so and see how you like it. Julie, I hope you find what you have dreamed of, but I will say that when I was hiking above Wengen last year I got pretty sick of all the noise from the helicopters.
I have never taken one but there is a scenic helicopter ride in the Lauterbrunnen valley. The airglaciers.ch web site is in German. The cost will be several hundred (500+) dollars for 13 minutes. A much cheaper way to get a similar view is to take the aerial tram from Stechelberg to Murren and walk along the edge of the valley. The view out the window coming out of the Stechelberg base station is great.
Nigel, I know you hadn't a way to know this, but I live very close to a NATO air force base whose main crafts overflying me are... helicopters!
My advice: bring lots of money and be prepared for sticker-shock. A helicopter ride costs a lot anywhere. It's going to be super-expensive in Switzerland. FWIW, flying on any small aircraft in Europe is generally way more expensive than the same flight in the US. I'd look for other ways to do sightseeing there (and if you really want a helicopter ride, do that back home in the USA).
I'll stay off-topic and agree! I've never seen so much military activity as I did in Switzerland. I've been anticipating an invasion of Italy for years!
One avenue to finding a reputable helicopter tour is to contact ski rental companies/sport shops in the ski resort areas. In winter you can get dropped on some mountains by helicopter and ski down. Perhaps they would thus know of a helicopter tour company.
With no personal experience, but having done some reading on the matter, it's my impression that, even people used to flying, get the squeamies in a helicopter. I've even heard of experieced fighter pilots getting a case of the acute pukes their first time out in one. I've also read that they can come unglued rather easily. Harry Reasoner: 'The thing is, helicopters are different from planes. An airplane by it's nature wants to fly, and if not interfered with too strongly by unusual events or by a deliberately incompetent pilot, it will fly. A helicopter does not want to fly. It is maintained in the air by a variety of forces and controls working in opposition to each other, and if there is any disturbance in this delicate balance the helicopter stops flying immediately and disastrously. There is no such thing as a gliding helicopter. This is why being a helicopter pilot is so different from being an airplane pilot and why, in general, airplane pilots are open, clear eyed, buoyant extroverts, and helicopter pilots are brooders, introspective anticipators of trouble. They know that if something bad has not happened, it is about to.' You might want to think twice about the suckers.
Helicopters in Switzerland are workhorses. In the mountains you will see them hauling construction materials and also supplies to the mountain huts. We were at Freundenhütte above Oescheninsee when a copter dropped off a pallet of beer kegs and picked up the empties. A friend of ours saw one carrying an injured cow down from the high pasture ( the cow was in a sling below). The companies that take people heli-skiing in winter use their birds for flight seeing in summer. I am sure the pilots are very good and the companies trustworthy.
Not to get too off-topic, but I've seen more military activity in Switzerland than any other place in Europa. I usually visit in October when the Swiss Military is on maneuvers and the fighter jets zooming around the valleys and the constant sonic booms are fascinating. I was once on the Golden Pass train between Interlaken and Luzern and the train was help-up for about 30 minutes while a squadron of jet bombed a nearby hillside.
With regard to Ed's comments, I can give you my personal experience. I took an hour long helicopter flight in Hawaii. I thought it was thrilling. However, I did get nauseous, mostly in the second half. My one son was felt really lousy the whole time. My other son and husband handled it pretty well. I'll probably never do it again, due to the expense, but if I did, I wouldn't go for more than half an hour.
Expensive no doubt but what a view that would be. If you get HDNET they have a series of programs you would probably enjoy called "Alps from Above" with some great scenery in hi def. I never can hear the sound of a helicopter without the first thought of Vietnam coming to mind. Practically 24/7 for a year listening to that sound will forever be associated with VN.
@Ed, I always enjoy your insightful and often entertaining posts. The quotes from Harry Reasoner were interesting. I've flown in both large and small aircraft (including float planes) and numerous helicopters, and so far haven't had any problems with "acute pukes". Travel in Helicopters is somewhat unique, and something I always enjoy. However, I do agree that there are some parts on a Helicopter that will cause catastrophic results if they fail, and that's something that's always in the back of my mind each time I fly in one. Hopefully any failure will still allow auto rotation and somewhat of a "soft landing". Cheers!
To answer a general medical question... Yes, from the perspective of passengers, helicopter rides are far more likely to become a vomit-comet than airplanes. As Ed noted, the act of flying a helicopter is one of constant adjustments to opposing forces. A given flight will also usually involve far more banked turns than a trip in a fixed-wing aircraft. Hence, more opportunities for your visual and vestibular systems to receive conflicting information and therefore... more nausea and more puking. Personally, I never get sick on airplanes, but I can barely tolerate helicopter flights without an anti-nause med.
Check out the price list at www.airportheli.ch and see if you're really still interested. ;-)