Ever wanted to buy a helicopter? If you have, you were probably shocked at how expensive they are – typically $400,000 and up. But what if I told you there was a way you could get a helicopter for the price of a Grand Canyon tour?
I know, I know. It sounds too good to be true. But it is true, and here’s how:
The first step is to join the Grand Canyon Tour Guides Association. There’s only one rule: you have to give at least one tour per year. They don’t even care if anyone comes on your tour. The fee is $250/yr.
So far this seems like a terrible deal, but don’t worry – it gets better. Now that you’re a member of the GCTGA, you’re entitled to buy their “shared use” helicopter for only $80/hr (plus fuel). You can fly it anywhere in the continental US, 365 days a year. Their helicopters are all late-model Bell-206s and Robinson R22s – nice ones!
You can even use the heli for personal trips! For example, I might want to go from San Francisco to Lake Tahoe for skiing; instead of flying commercial and paying $200-$300
If you are reading this then you probably have been thinking about buying a helicopter and think that you can’t afford it.
Well, I’m here to tell you that you can. The way to do it is by buying a Grand Canyon tour!
The Grand Canyon is one of the seven natural wonders of the world and seeing it from the air is something everyone should do at least once in their life. That’s why so many people buy helicopter flights over the canyon every year. The problem is that these flights are very expensive, usually over $200 per person depending on how long you fly for.
But what most people don’t know is that there are some companies that offer helicopter tours of the Grand Canyon for close to $100 per person. The reason they do this is because they want your business and know that if they can get you into their store then they have a good chance at selling you an expensive flight as well as other products such as souvenirs or DVDs etc…
So how does all this relate back to helicopters? Well, here’s where things get interesting. If you know where to look, it’s actually possible to find used helicopters for sale at prices similar to those of these cheap Grand Canyon tours! Now I know what some of you might be
A few months ago a friend of mine was looking for a helicopter. He needed one for his business but didn’t want to spend thousands and thousands of dollars. So he bought a Grand Canyon tour, which included a helicopter ride. After the ride he told the pilot that he wanted to buy the helicopter and asked if the pilot had any extras lying around that he could sell.
A few weeks later my friend moved into his new office, a repurposed shed in his driveway with a helicopter parked behind it. The total cost of his helicopter purchase was less than $10,000.
Buying a helicopter is an extreme example, but it illustrates how many things can be bought for much cheaper than their list price. List prices are meant to take advantage of uninformed buyers who don’t know how much things cost. That’s not you, though, because you’re reading this blog post.
Note: I wrote this article a year before I started my business. Needless to say, the blog post was more of a “wouldn’t it be nice if…” type of thing and not a real review. A year later, I started a helicopter tour company in the Grand Canyon.
One of the things I like about living in Arizona is that you can rent helicopters for really cheap and take tours. They are pretty safe too. This makes me want to buy one but they are obviously pretty expensive.
Most people get their helicopter pilot licenses by renting them out for tours or by taking classes. This is how they afford to fly so much and get their license. But what if we just bought it outright?
I was watching a TV show where they were talking about how expensive it is to buy a helicopter vs driving a car and they actually said it would be cheaper if you were to buy a helicopter than if you were to buy a brand new BMW or Mercedes Benz. That is pretty awesome!
My friend told me that there is this place called “Grand Canyon Helicopter Tours” where you can go and take a tour for $150 per person. That is pretty cheap when you consider that you have your own private driver with you and you get to see some
My wife and I have been looking for a helicopter for a while. We’ve been taking lessons and we’re getting to the point where we want our own bird. It was during this time that we got an email from Southwest Vacations about a package deal which would take us down to the Grand Canyon for a few days.
We noticed that one of the options was for a helicopter tour over the Grand Canyon. It occured to us that such a tour could be used as a long test flight on our possible future helicopter. Being able to fly over the Grand Canyon in a helicopter is something we’ve always wanted to do anyway, so we decided to book the package and see what happened.
Our plan worked great! The helicopter we received was one of the most luxurious ones available, with full surround sound and comfortable seats. We were treated like royalty, as if this wasn’t just some random flight over the Grand Canyon but rather some sort of exclusive VIP trip, like how celebrities fly when they visit Vegas.
We were extremely happy with how much value we got out of this package deal, especially compared to how much it cost versus simply buying our own helicopter.
The day I decided to buy a helicopter, I was sitting on the rim of the Grand Canyon, waiting for the sun to come up. It was about five thirty in the morning. The air was still and cold, and fog was rolling across the canyon floor below. At first light, when the sun hit the tops of the cliffs, it turned them orange. Then they started to glow.
I am not very good at doing things slowly. The moment I started taking flying lessons in college, I wanted my own plane. That took fifteen years; I bought a helicopter a year later. I’m not very good at delaying gratification either: after years of saving and planning and watching eBay listings, one day I woke up and bought an ultralight airplane off a guy in Illinois who advertised it as “hangar kept,” which meant that he kept it in a hangar (along with his Cessna) but never bothered to clean it or do any maintenance on it. When I picked it up from him five days later, the plane was covered with dead bugs and bird poop; one of its fuel tanks leaked so badly that I had to use tape to keep it from draining onto my legs when I flew it home; and its engine seized over Missouri on my second day
The Grand Canyon is one of the great natural wonders of the world. I have been there many times and it never gets old. If you are in Arizona or Las Vegas, it is well worth going on a tour.
However, if you have time and money, an even better way to see the Canyon is by helicopter. Helicopter tours cost about $250 per person for a 30 minute ride. A plane tour costs about half that.
You can take a helicopter tour for free if you buy a ticket on Priceline.com for a hotel in Phoenix or Las Vegas. On Priceline you can buy hotel rooms at huge discounts (50% or more) but you don’t know which hotel until after you pay for it. Hotels listed include some of the nicest hotels in each city including the Ritz-Carlton, the Marriott and the Hyatt.
I paid $230 for three nights at a 4 star hotel in downtown Phoenix with my wife and two kids last February (we actually got the Westin but that’s not important). In addition to three nights at a nice hotel, our purchase also included four seats on a Papillon helicopter tour over the Grand Canyon