Friday, August 2, 2013

Sunset Papillon Grand Canyon Helicopter's Tour (AS-350 N834PA)

Weeks before our trip out West, my mom told my brother and myself that while in Las Vegas, we would be going on an adventure with one of her friends who lives in Las Vegas. She said it was a secret and that her friend wouldn't tell us what we were going to be doing. Little did my brother and I know, she had plans in the works for a Helicopter Tour of the Grand Canyon, leaving from Boulder City, not too far from Las Vegas. 

For the afternoon, she told us to have our cameras charged and ready... that was all that she would tell us. At 5:00pm we walked down to the Mandalay Bay lobby (where we were staying) to get picked up by our moms friend. I saw that there was a chauffeur with a sign and our name on it... hmm, so no friend? He led us out to the Papillon Grand Canyon Airlines van. By that time, we'd figured out what we were going to be doing. Needless to say, I was so excited and surprised! My brother and I hadn't ever been on a helicopter tour before, so this was to be a first for both of us. 

About 30 minutes later, we were at the Boulder City Municipal Airport (KBVU). Papillon Grand Canyon Helicopters has quite the operation out there, they had an awesome building with a central atrium for panoramic views of the flight line. There were a couple dozen helicopters on the ramp, all of them either AS350's or EC-130's. After short wait, we were greeted by our pilot who walked us out to the red Eurocopter AS350 (N834PA) that we were going to fly in. 

Here is the full video (including canyon flyovers) from my youtube channel: MartinsAviation1:

Our pilot sat in the front with two other passengers, both from Bournemouth in the UK. My mom sat on the right window and I sat on the left window. (my brother was in one of the two middle seats)

Here is a video of our AS-350 taking off from Boulder City Airport. You can find more videos like this on my youtube channel, MartinsAviation1:

Powering up in the helicopter and taking off for the first time was pretty incredible. It was a lot more smooth than I thought it would be! We took off from KBVU and flew East, towards the Grand Canyon. 

Just a minute or two after taking off, we flew over the Hoover Dam. We'd visited the dam early in the day, even going on a tour inside of it! It was awesome to see from the air.

Continuing East, we flew over more of Lake Mead, heading towards the Western edge of the Grand Canyon. Flying over Lake Meade, as you can see in some of the photos below, one notices where the muddy Colorado River enters the blue waters of the lake. The silt settles shortly after the estuary, leaving Lake Meade it's blue color.

We flew over a little airport named Pearce Ferry (L25), which is situated atop a Mesa just West of the Grand Canyon. The airport is really incredible. Runway 01 ends just before the edge of a massive cliff. 

Entering the Grand Canyon and seeing it up-close for the first time is something I'll never forget. The colors of the surrounding rocks during sunset are indescribable. 

Looking a full mile down in some places, I couldn't imagine what a daunting challenge it would have been to explore the canyon for the first few times. 

From the helicopter, to our right, we could see the new Grand Canyon skywalk and the Grand Canyon West Airport. (I was glad that we didn't have to drive 4 hours each way from Las Vegas to see the canyon)

A few minutes later, we made our U-Turn and headed back out the canyon, where we came from. As we were turning, I looked down and saw quite a few helicopters from other (more expensive) tours which landed in the bottom of the canyon. 

Leaving the Grand Canyon was sad. While our time there wasn't super long, it was enough to get a good sense for the enormity of the park. I can't wait to go back one day and see another section of it! Here are some more photos on the way back to Boulder City. You can see another amazing desert airport below (Temple Bar U30): 

Landing in a helicopter was an awesome experience as well. I loved how easy it seemed for the pilot to maneuver us onto our landing pad. Check out the video of our AS-350 Landing at Boulder City KBVU: You can find more videos like this on my youtube channel, MartinsAviation1:

Here is a photo of my brother and mom, myself, and our pilot by the Eurocopter AS-350 (N834PA) that we flew in: 

Thanks to all of the people at Papillon Helicopters! My first flight in a helicopter was an amazing experience, I might have to take a flight lesson in one sometime soon! 

Swayne Martin
Twitter: @MartinsAviation
Youtube: MartinsAviation1


  1. Good afternoon,

    We are glad you enjoyed your first helicopter ride aboard one of Papillon Grand Canyon Helicopter AS350 or AStar. :)
    We enjoyed reading your post about it and all the pictures and videos you took. If you want, you can send us other pictures or videos to

    E-communication support
    American Eurocopter

    1. Thanks so much! It was an awesome flight!

      I will send a few more over to that address. I loved flying on the AS-350, lots of fun!

      Thanks again for the comment,
      -Swayne Martin

  2. You have the greatest mother ever! I am green with envy over your trip but so glad that you could share it.

    1. I know! The trip was so much fun! I have my first glider lesson today in Truckee, CA... can't wait!

      Thanks again,

  3. Swayne, what a fantastic trip! Your mother is awesome to set this up for you!

    1. Thanks Karlene! It was such a nice thing of her to do for us, still can't believe we did it!

      Hope everything has been going well,

  4. These helicopter tours can be extremely cheap. The best prices are on the Internet. I recommend purchasing direct from the tour operator. In addition to getting the best price, you'll also have peace of mind knowing that your reservation is confirmed and that there will not be any "day-of" reschedulings. Which reminds me: Never book when you arrive in Las Vegas. These tours sell out. Always book in advance.
    Grand Canyon Bus Tour from Las Vegas


Thanks for your comment; I really appreciate it! Glad you are here with me on the blog. If your comment does not appear right away, it will after verification.

Many Thanks, Happy Flying,
Swayne Martin