December 3rd, 2021
Today was another light day with just one really important attraction planned. We had a little bit more shopping planned and nothing else really for the day before we had to head over the Kearny for a Doors-Off Helicopter Flight.
This meant a nice and easy morning. We had some Bagels and Smoked Salmon for breakfast and a bit of a lie-in, still getting out the door for 9 AM however, after spending a couple of hours working in the office mainly processing last night’s Summit photos.
I had bought a brand new camera for this trip a Sony Alpha A7iii and need to know how to get the best of it for tonight’s aerial expedition over the City. We were pretty exhausted after yesterday so a nice easy morning fitted perfectly.
We then headed over to Grand Central, had a look around as per usual, and then jumped onto the 4,5,6, Train to head uptown to Bloomingdales. We just had a few things to pick up and then headed back to Midtown and Bryant Square to take in the Holiday Markets and the Ice Rink. Ice Skating is a BIG thing in New York at Christmas but neither of us skates and we really don’t want to risk being the one barely able t stand holding the rail the whole way round, or worse and taking a big tumble and injuring ourselves writing off the rest of the trip.
We keep saying we will learn BEFORE we come to New York but have never got around to it. Regardless just sitting by the rink people watching for an hour is more than enough entertainment. We love Bryant Park, especially during the holidays, while the markets are not quite up to European standards, they are still nice to browse around.
After this, we headed back to the Apartment to work out a plan. We needed to be at FlyNYON 1:15 mins before the flight and the journey over here takes around an hour so despite not flying until 5:05 pm we would lose nearly a half-day traveling.
Due to the Jet Lag, we were finding ourselves really hungry at around lunchtime and not really at all at dinner, so we decided to head out and get a hearty lunch. naturally, we pulled up our trusty Best Dining Locations in Time Square Article and picked out a nice spot.
This authentic BBQ Joint is just across the street from our Apartment and we have massive BBQ-Fans so headed on over. Lunch was pretty quiet so we got a table straight away and ordered some Ginat Cocktails and a Huge Sharing Platter of BBQ Meats.
The Margarita and Spiked Lemonade came in huge Quart Glasses and were really good. The meat was pretty epic, consisting of Brisket, Half Chicken, Pulled Pork, Memphis Ribs, and served with Cornbread and two sides, Mac and Cheese, and Potato Salad. The Chicken and Pulled pork were fantastic and the Ribs were pretty awesome, the brisket was good but not the best, it was tender enough but was a little dry, but perfectly fine for anything other than a contest level brisket.
This was way more than we could manage and we boxed the rest up for another time. We then headed back to the apartment to get ready to head out to New Jersey.
FlyNYON Doors Off
This is a 3 leg journey and the first of is the walk through Times Square to New York Penn Station. Here we hop on the NJT Train to Newark Penn Station. From here the only option is Uber or Taxi. Fired up the Uber but the arrival time was over 20mins and by this time we would be perilously close to the cut-off for check-in!
We noticed there were Taxis just sitting waiting and hopped in the front cab. The driver was really nice and offered us a price about the same as the Uber ($20) and we headed straight for the heliport. Traffic was terrible and as we got to the FlyNYON Base a huge train was completely blocking the entry at the level crossing! This was moving slow and kept stopping, after 10mins it actually started going backward!
Our Check-in time was missed and FlyNYON Uses some pretty string wording on their bookings claiming you will lose the flight if not checked in on time. We have always doubted this but never wanted to test it! So we got on the phone to see what they say.
This all seemed to be no problem at all and they gave us, well our driver, an alternate route and we whizzed round the train and into the depot in a few mins.
Here we went through the lengthy process of checking in, watching the safety briefing, getting geared up, stowing all our personal items, and practicing the emergency Evacuation procedure. We then loaded up the vans and headed out to the choppers.
There were 4 helicopters heading out at the same time, the FlyNYON outfit really has come on leaps and bounds since we first flew with them. Great to see them doing well after the last two years of trouble!
Out at the choppers and the most nerve-wracking part of the trip was about to commence…the seat assignments. We hate this lottery. FlyNYON claims there are no bad seats but the truth is some are FAR better than others. The middle-back and front-right seats are poor choices and the Cockpit seat is really cool but lacks the door-off feature. Read more here.
When the names for our flight were called, and only 4 people asked to step forward we knew we had won the jackpot. Me and Kate were given the right-hand side of the Chopper, with me in the prime photo seat and kate given the front-right which for many is a bad seat but kate actually likes hiding from the intense wind and the scary drops.
With Kate nice and secure, and I perched hundreds of feet over the Manhattan Skyline we were very happy. There was a lot of talk about the Temperature. The weather was really good, with light wind and a clear cool night sky, but the temps were getting down to zero, and with the intense wind chill it was looking like it was going to be frigid.
These flights are insanely exhilarating. As the Chopper lifts upwards and the ground falls away beneath you it really is a feeling like nothing on earth. We have always flown daytime with FlyNYON but have been eager to take an evening flight. However, I have always been scared of the level of skill needed to get good shots and shied away from the challenge, it is a lit of money to spend for a bunch of fussy blurry images!
The City is just breathtaking any time of the day but at night it’s something else. The Towering skyline sparkles and shines below you like a GCI movie set and is scarcely believable to your eyes and a lot of photos seem unreal and highly edited, but this is exactly how the Cit looked!. The route the FlyNYON takes has changed slightly, you now head straight up the Hudson with views out over Downtown then, Midtown before heading out over the park. Here you are given a little elevation to get those sweeping Midtown views.
The route then drops down the east river over the bridges before heading over to the WTC for stunning views of the freedom tower and the memorials. Next, we get high again for the money shot of the NYC Skyline, the new section, which replaces a close-up of the Empire State is to drop down low and close to the Brooklyn Bridge. This was a lot of fun and got us some great shots.
Next, we head out low over Lady Liberty and take a couple of passes of the island. The bay looks very dark and cold from here and you definitely don’t fancy a dip, but the Statue stands out bright and proud in the complete darkness with the stunning backdrop of the City.
And with that, the flight is over. We now race back low over Jersey in a really stunning manner. This feels really military and reminiscent of a Marine heading into battle, one foot on the skid. It was so fun and great to get a break from the Shutter as most of the flight was spent firing off shots of the incredible scenery.
Back at the base and the adrenalin has taken over and all feelings of cold are gone. This really is the ultimate thrill ride and one of the best views in the world.
We collected on things and ordered an Uber to retrace our steps into the City. We were so buzzed we didn’t even have dinner that evening and just had Snacks and Leftovers in the Apartment.
We jumped straight into some editing and got ready for a really busy day tomorrow.
Walking Total – 13,120 Steps – 6.6 Miles
Live Blog – Trip Report