Michael James takes a Maverick Helicopter night tour
[Author’s note: After Michael Movestro’s hiatus from Vegas Bright, I needed a short one of my own due – in part – to helping my daughter take care of her premature baby. Want to see him?]
So let’s see, where did I leave off? Right… it was Tuesday, April 25th. I had gotten a brutal shave from Ernesto in the morning, then an (eventually) delicious meal served by Ernesto in the afternoon. Brings us to sundown…
But first, a diversion; I started playing MyVegas on Facebook a few years ago, and have accumulated those gold LP coins faster than I can use them. I’ve redeemed them for numerous freebies at the Mirage, Mandalay Bay, Palace Station, MGM and Hexx (among others). Though I’ve never used them for a room because I can get actual comps without resort fees, I’ve struggled to find ways to use the MyVegas comps that I’ve earned.
On a random particular evening before our trip, I was looking for something-anything-in which to spend my 750,000 accumulated gold coins when I spotted it. For a mere 200,000, I could get a buy-one-get-one Maverick Helicopter Night Tour of the Strip. I hadn’t seen that before (and to be honest, I hadn’t really looked) so I snapped it up.
Once I had the certificate, the reservation process couldn’t have been easier. I called the Maverick number and the reservationist knew all about the MyVegas certificate and politely described the process.
Part of the price of the tour included a bus that would pick up from any area hotel (in our case, we chose the Palms as we had just completed dinner). We were dutifully at the valet before the prescribed 8:00 PM time, and because the bus was early, we were on our way to the next stop at Bally’s well before eight.
It seemed like a big downer would be that we arrived at Bally’s just after 8:00 as the pickup was scheduled for 8:45. However, that group was ready early, and so was the group at the next stop (Planet Hollywood) so that we arrived at the airport before 9:00 in advance of our 9:30 flight.
Inside the Maverick building, we were told to wait in the lobby (and gift shop) until a cashier called our name and processed the payment ($124.00 per person, which is a little rich, except for those of us with MyVegas rewards). After a little more waiting – made easier with complimentary champagne – the five pilots came out and called for their passengers. Some flights had four and some had five passengers, based on group size and weight.
Our pilot gave us a quick primer on what to expect, and how to secure the safety belts, and we headed to the helipad… first for our purchasable, souvenir photo.
I am sure most of you have seen any scene in M*A*S*H where the helicopters rise straight up off of the helipad, so I was surprised when the helicopter took off similar to an airplane. Before long, we were behind the MGM Grand on our way up the east side of The Strip.
The views were spectacular, and though it was described as a tour of The Strip, I had expected a swing around the Stratosphere. Instead, we continued north and didn’t make the turnaround until just past The Plaza.
Heading south, I started feeling a little melancholy as I started realizing just how quick this ride was. The trip was so cool that I needed more than about 12 minutes to fully appreciate and enjoy it.
Heightened excitement levels occurred, however, as we started to descend behind the Mandalay Bay. There was a cross-wind which shook the helicopter pretty good. I’ve been in plenty of airplanes with significant turbulence, but the helicopter was already pretty close to the ground. I’ve got to admit, the thought did cross my mind that if I had to go right then, it had been a hell of a ride.
However, by the time my mind had processed that bit of fright, we were already back to the Maverick building and preparing for the bus ride back to the Palms.
Adam from Vegas Fanboy also took the trip recently, and his thoughts are here. Adam said, “No pictures or videos will do the ride justice.” However, let’s give it a shot…
What a wonderful way to end an evening in Vegas. If you’ve got an extra 200,000 LPs on MyVegas, do allow yourself the absolute treat of the Maverick Helicopters reward.
[Photos and video: Michael James, Maverick’s souvenir picture-taker]