Safe Helicopter Tours in Las Vegas: Choosing the Best

helicopter pilot flying

Seeing Las Vegas and the surrounding sites from a helicopter tour is amazing!  The Strip’s glitz and glamor sparkle from above, especially at sunset, and the expansive aerial views of the Grand Canyon and Hoover Dam will take your breath away. Plus, riding in a helicopter is just so darn cool!

But are Las Vegas helicopter tours safe and how do you choose the best options? Helicopter tours in Las Vegas are safe because local tour operators must adhere to stringent Federal Aviation Administration requirements. Also, helicopters are maintained regularly, and pilots receive thorough training in flying, maintenance and safety procedures.  

While helicopter tour operators are generally safety conscious, some may prioritize safety more than others. Below are a few considerations that are important to me when I consider which helicopter tour company to choose.

Nationwide Helicopter Safety Statistics

Over the past three years, due to stringent Federal Aviation Administration requirements, the number of commercial helicopter operation accidents in the U.S. has steadily decreased (source).

The majority of helicopter accidents reported nationwide involve personal and private helicopter use, not commercial tour operations.

Earlier this year, Aviation International News (AINOnline) reported a breakdown of where the accidents occurred and the overall decrease in crashes involving commercial tour operators.

According to the 2018 report, fatal helicopter accidents involving commercial operations dropped from 12 percent to 4 percent of the total number of accidents (source).

Commercial operations accidents have substantially decreased from 12% to 4%!

The United States Helicopter Safety Team reported that

“Each year the U.S. helicopter industry safely flies more than 3.2 million flight hours…. There are 32,000+ U.S. helicopter pilots, 10,500+ helicopters and over 292,000 aircraft mechanics!”

USHST.org

Newer helicopters and technology help to reduce incidents caused primarily by faulty equipment.  Also, FAA required training and flight simulations have increased pilot experience, which subsequently decreased helicopter collisions blamed on pilot inexperience.

The main takeaway here is that commercial helicopter tours have a low degree of risk and the risks are decreasing each year.

Las Vegas Helicopter Tour Safety

If you’re still worried about how safe a helicopter tour in Las Vegas is think of it this way, statistics show that you are far safer in a helicopter than you are riding in a car and you probably wouldn’t think twice about driving or riding in a car (source).

Most helicopter tour operators in Las Vegas are running large commercial operations. As such, they hire highly qualified pilots, give safety factors a high priority and are sticklers for upkeep and mechanical maintenance.

To make sure the company you choose makes safety a high priority, here are some things you can check before booking your Vegas helicopter tour.

Your Pre-Arrival Safety Check for the Tour Company You Choose

  • Has the helicopter tour company met the FAA Certification Requirements?

Single tour operators are only required to have a Letter of Compliance by the FAA. Tour companies with up to five helicopters and five pilots are required to have a General Operations Manuel, a Training Program, and a Letter of Compliance.

Choose a helicopter tour company that is FAA certified.

  • Does the helicopter tour company operate equipment approved by the FAA? 
Helicopter over the Strip at night | Photo by Colton Kresser

For example, the tour operator’s helicopter should have an FAA Part 135 Air Carrier license, which indicates they are subject to higher standards. If the tour operator’s website doesn’t mention their compliance, call them directly and ask if their helicopter is equipped with Emergency Locator Transmitters?

Also, ask what visibility equipment the helicopter has in case of inclement weather.  It should have visibility lights as standard equipment. Does the chopper have bright landing lights, highly visible rotor blades and outside strobe lights?

  • Does the helicopter tour company have a track record of safety?

The National Transportation Safety Board publically shares its accident reports on its website.  The Aviation Accident Reports list all aviation-related incidents. 

Use the search bar to search the database by entering the name or state of tour operators you consider using. It’s a fascinating website identifying not only accidents but also the recommendations the National Transportation Safety Board deemed necessary to prevent future incidents.

The Federal Aviation Administration has a database of accident information enabling you to research further.

If you’re still concerned, check to see if the company has changed names or has a DBA (doing business as) and check those names in the databases, too.

  • How experienced is the helicopter pilot?

The Federal Aviation Administration requires private pilots to have 500 hours of flight experience before being hired by a sightseeing tour company. 

You can always ask how many times the pilot has flown your selected tour?

  • Have you read the company’s online reviews?

As you’re choosing a tour operator, be sure to read online reviews about the company and its tours. People give candid reviews of bad experiences and poor service to warn others considering the tour company. People who love the experience tend to share, as well. So check them out and see if others felt like the company was a good fit for them.

Highly Rated Las Vegas Helicopter Tour Companies

Each one of the Las Vegas helicopter companies below has an average Yelp rating of 4 to 5-stars and dozens of reviews.

  • Maverick Helicopters
  • Sundance Helicopters
  • Papillon Grand Canyon Helicopters
  • 702 Helicopter
  • Grand Canyon Helicopter Tours
  • Skyline Helicopter Tours
  • 5 Star Grand Canyon Helicopter Tours
  • Serenity Helicopter Tours

You can read some of the reviews from previous guests here (Yelp.com)

Helicopter Tour Operator Certifications

In conjunction with your safety check, check out optional certifications that can be acquired by your selected tour company. These certification badges will probably be displayed on their website.  If not, you can always call and ask.

  • Tour Operators Program of Safety (TOPS) prioritizes safety among tour operators. Their mission is to make helicopter sightseeing tours the safest way to fly. This is the basic certification in the industry.
  • Federal Aviation Administration’s Diamond Award for Excellence is received after participating in the William (Bill) O’Brien Aviation Maintenance Technician Awards Program, which promotes continuing education programs in helicopter maintenance. The FAA awards those companies reaching the top of the program criteria.
  • International Standards for Business Operations (IS-BAO) certification is the fixed-wing business aviation operators’ global gold standard. Awarded by adhering to stringent business requirements.
  • Safety Management System (SMS) became a global standard for aviation safety, including specific helicopter operation standards.
  • United States Department of Defense (DOD) uses commercial helicopter operators in various ways to assist the US military.  The Department of Defense determines an operator’s usability by exacting examinations of their flight operations, maintenance, safety, and quality assurance.
  • Air Methods Corporation leads the industry in medical transportation. Tour operators can participate in medical services efforts by demonstrating a similar commitment to safety and capability.

When You Arrive at the Helicopter Tour Company in Las Vegas – A Quick Checklist

  • Are the helicopter and pilots ready to go as promised? If not, walk away.
  • Did they give you a preflight safety lecture? If not, walk away.
  • Do they allow luggage or camera cases on board that aren’t strapped down? If so, walk away.
  • Is your safety restraint the same caliber as the pilot’s safety restraint (IE a one-point quick release system)? If not, walk away.
  • Did they show you how to release your safety restraint? If not, walk away.

Choosing Your Las Vegas Helicopter Tour

Las Vegas flight tour operators offer a wide variety of tours. There are so many different types of helicopter tours to choose from!

Woman taking helicopter tour | Photo by Jon Ly

Some things to consider when choosing your helicopter tour include:

  • What is your budget? Helicopter tours I found ranged from around $53 to $600.
  • What is your available time frame? You can experience 10-15 minute tours over the city if your time is short.  If you’d like to extend your helicopter adventure, you can find whole-day tours that are 8 – 10 hours long.
  • How many people are in your party? Many of the helicopter tours I know of will accommodate up to 6 passengers who all weigh less than 300 pounds.  Folks that weigh more than 300 pounds can still participate but may have to buy an extra seat.
  • Do you want to group any other activities in with your helicopter tour? A helicopter ride is a thrill in and of itself, but tour operators combine all sorts of activities to enhance visitors’ experiences.  Amongst the many varied activities paired with your helicopter tour, you can ride a boat down the Colorado River, experience the Grand Canyon Skywalk, add a Vegas show or meal, and even go horseback riding.

Recommended Helicopter Tours From Las Vegas

Las Vegas helicopter tour operators offer a wide variety of tours.  Here is a condensed view of the best options of tours of Las Vegas and nearby sites, including Grand Canyon Tours.

Best Helicopter Tours in and around Las Vegas:

  • Las Vegas Strip Helicopter Night Flight
  • VIP Helicopter Strip Flight with Eiffel Tower Dinner
  • Vegas Night Out: Helicopter Tour and Show Package
  • Bus Trip to Hoover Dam from Las Vegas with an Optional Helicopter Ride
  • Helicopter and Wine Experience Tour

Best Helicopter Tours of the Grand Canyon:

  • Grand Canyon Skywalk Express Helicopter Tour
  • Grand Canyon All-American Helicopter Tour
  • Grand Canyon 4-in-1 Helicopter Tour
  • Grand Canyon Sunset Helicopter Tour with Dinner
  • Grand Canyon West Rim and Hoover Dam Tour with Optional Skywalk
  • Grand Canyon Western Ranch Experience with Helicopter Tour and Optional Horseback Ride

Best Helicopter Tours over Las Vegas

Las Vegas Strip Helicopter Night Flight

This Las Vegas city tour offers a glass of bubbly before guests enjoy a helicopter ride over the sparkly Las Vegas Strip at sunset.

From $99 per person

Duration: 2 hours

Itinerary:

  • Depart from hotel
  • Champagne toast
  • Aerial views of Las Vegas Strip at Night/Sunset
  • 10 minute flight time

Included:

  • Hotel pick-up and drop-off
  • Champagne

Find out what you’ll see on this flight here (viator.com)

VIP Helicopter Strip Flight with Eiffel Tower Dinner

This Las Vegas city tour features an aerial view of the Strip and a 3-course dinner at the Eiffel Tower Restaurant. A truly romantic evening!

From $300

Duration: 3-6 hours

Itinerary:

  • Depart from hotel
  • Pre-flight champagne toast
  • 15-minute flight over Las Vegas Strip
  • Aerial views of Las Vegas landmarks
  • 3-course dinner at the Eiffel Tower Restaurant enjoying panoramic views of Las Vegas

Includes:

  • Ground transportation from hotel to heliport to restaurant
  • Souvenir Las Vegas helicopter tour photo and frame
  • Glass of Champagne
  • Helicopter flight over the Strip and Las Vegas landmarks
  • Diner at the Eiffel Tower Restaurant with gratuity included

View the detailed itinerary of this romantic tour! (viator.com)

Vegas Night Out: Helicopter Tour and Show Package

This Las Vegas city tour incorporates tickets to one of two of Las Vegas’ premium shows: Legends in Concert or Magic Mike Live. Enjoy the glitz and glam of the helicopter ride above the Strip and then enjoy a show!

From $157

Duration: 3 hours 30 minutes to 4 hours

Itinerary:

  • Depart from hotel
  • 10- to 12-minute helicopter ride over the Strip
  • Show Tickets to either Magic Mike Live or Legends in Concert

Included:

  • Ground transportation from hotel by luxury vehicle
  • Show tickets to be used either the same night or on a different night

The best sights in Vegas and a show! View a detailed itinerary to find out which landmarks you’ll see (Viator.com)

Hoover Dam Bus Trip from Las Vegas with Optional Helicopter Ride

This tour featuring the Hoover Dam transports you to the dam via bus. You’ll get to experience the dam from the outside then go on a guided interior tour to see the huge turbines in the generator room. Followed by an option to view the dam from a helicopter. Find out the best ways to visit Hoover Dam from Las Vegas in our article here.

From $53

Duration: 4 hours and 30 minutes

Itinerary:

  • Depart from hotel
  • Motorcoach ride to the Hoover Dam
  • Photo op from the O’Callaghan-Tillman bypass bridge
  • Hoover Dam interior tour
  • Helicopter ride over the Hoover Dam

Includes:

  • Ground transportation to and from hotel
  • VIP Discovery Tour
  • Access to the Visitor’s Center, movie room, exhibit areas, generator room, and observation deck.

Find out exactly what to expect as well as answers to frequently asked questions about this tour (viator.com)

Helicopter and Wine Experience Tour

This Las Vegas tour features the opportunity to be flown via helicopter to Pahrump Valley Winery, where you will enjoy a delectable 4-course meal with incredible sightseeing along the way.

From $417 per person

Duration: 4 hours

Itinerary:

  • Depart from hotel via stretch limousine
  • Helicopter ride over Las Vegas
  • Aerial views of Red Rock Conservation
  • Aerial views of Mount Charleston Peak
  • Land at Pahrump Valley Winery for wine tasting and 4-course dinner
  • Aerial views of Spring Mountains
  • Aerial views of Las Vegas Valley at dusk as the Strip lights turn on

Included:

  • Ground transportation
  • 90 minutes of flight time (round trip)
  • Wine tasting
  • 4-course meal

View the detailed itinerary and learn what to expect on this amazing journey (viator.com)

Las Vegas Helicopter Tours to the Grand Canyon

Las Vegas helicopter tour companies offer many different kinds of tours to its number one scenic spot.

Grand Canyon Skywalk Express Helicopter Tour

This Grand Canyon tour features VIP admission to the Skywalk so guests can experience the canyon on a 70-foot glass bridge situated 4,000 feet above the Colorado River.

From $530 per person

Duration: 3 hours 30 minutes

Itinerary:

  • Depart from Vegas Strip Heliport
  • Aerial views of Las Vegas Strip
  • Aerial views of Lake Las Vegas
  • Aerial views of Lake Mead
  • Aerial views of Hoover Dam
  • West Rim of the Grand Canyon
  • VIP access to the Skywalk (glass bridge extending 70 feet from the rim and over 4,000 feet over the Colorado River.)
  • 45 minutes of time on the ground at Grand Canyon West

Included:

  • Skywalk admission
  • Live narration during the flight
  • Ground transportation
  • Souvenir photo
  • 90 minutes of flight time (round trip) in a jet helicopter

Find out exactly what to expect and read reviews of the tour from previous guests (viator.com)

Grand Canyon All-American Helicopter Tour

This Grand Canyon tour offers guests the chance to land at the West Rim to enjoy the view up close and personal with a drink and snacks.

From $429

Duration: 3 hours 30 minutes

  • Departs from Las Vegas Heliport
  • Aerial views of Lake Mead
  • Aerial views of Hoover Dam
  • Aerial views of Grand Canyon West Rim
  • Land on a canyon bluff below the rim to enjoy a glass of Champagne and snacks

Included:

  • Hotel pickup and drop-off by limousine
  • Glass of Champagne
  • Snacks
  • 90 minute flight time (round trip) on a modern jet helicopter

Read reviews from previous guests and find out more about landing on a bluff below the canyon rim (viator.com)

Las Vegas Super Saver: Grand Canyon Helicopter Tour

If you’re short on time this Grand Canyon tour is time economical.  Enjoy the grandeur of scenic vistas from the air on this helicopter ride out to the West Rim of the Grand Canyon and back.

From $354 per person

Duration: 1 hour 30 minutes

Itinerary:

  • Depart from Las Vegas Strip Heliport
  • Aerial views of Hoover Dam
  • Aerial views of Lake Mead
  • Aerial views of West Rim
  • Aerial views of Las Vegas
  • Morning and afternoon itineraries available

Included:

  • Live narration during the flight
  • Bottled water
  • 90 minutes of flight time (round trip) in a sleek, modern helicopter

Find out why travelers to Las Vegas select this tour (viator.com)

Grand Canyon 4-in-1 Helicopter Tour

This Grand Canyon tour incorporates other fun canyon experiences with its helicopter ride.  The chopper lands on the canyon floor and guests ride the Colorado River to their lunch destination and enjoy a cultural presentation and West Rim tour at Eagle Point.

From $600

Duration: 6 hours 30 minutes

Itinerary:

  • Depart from Las Vegas Strip Heliport
  • Aerial views of Las Vegas, Hoover Dam and  Lake Mead
  • Aerial views of West Rim
  • Land on the canyon floor
  • Colorado River pontoon boat ride
  • Lunch at Guano Point
  • Native American cultural performance
  • Shuttle between Guano Point and Eagle Point (West Rim)
  • Optional Grand Canyon Skywalk upgrade

Includes:

  • Hotel pickup and drop-off by limousine
  • Lunch at Guano Point
  • Boat ride on the Colorado River
  • Shuttle between Eagle Point and Guano Point
  • Access to the Hualapai Ranch
  • 90 minutes of total flight time
  • Grand Canyon Skywalk (if upgrade selected)

Find out what previous guests have to say about this tour and see a detailed itinerary (viator.com)

Grand Canyon Sunset Helicopter Tour with Dinner

This Grand Canyon tour presents the stunning scenic canyon views at sunset with a sumptuous meal and boasts the longest basin landing of all the other tours.

From $509

Duration: 5 hours

Itinerary:

  • Hotel pickup and drop-off by Mercedes
  • 35-minute helicopter flight from Boulder City
  • Aerial views of Hoover Dam
  • Aerial views of Lake Mead
  • Aerial views of West Rim
  • Land below the rim of the Grand Canyon for the longest basin landing
  • Gourmet sit-down dinner and Champagne with china, silverware, table linens, and flowers
  • Sunset over the Grand Canyon

Includes:

  • Hotel pickup and drop-off
  • Gourmet dinner and beverages
  • Live narration
  • 35-minute flight each way

This is an exclusive tour offered nowhere else! Read the reviews and check out the detailed itinerary for this thrilling adventure (viator.com)

Grand Canyon West Rim and Hoover Dam Tour with Optional Skywalk

Fully experience the Grand Canyon from the air, water and land on this full-day guided tour.

From $140 per person

Duration: 12 hours

Itinerary:

  • Day trip to Grand Canyon West Rim via coach
  • Stop at the pedestrian walkway to get photos of Hoover Dam
  • Option to explore the Grand Canyon Skywalk
  • Grand Canyon scenic views from Guano Point and Eagle Point
  • Hot lunch provided from your choice of locations
  • Add a helicopter and boat ride combo

Included:

  • Transportation provided by air-conditioned coach from Las Vegas
  • Photo stop on the pedestrian walkway to view Hoover Dam (15 minutes)
  • Hotel pickup and drop off in Las Vegas
  • Grand Canyon Skywalk (upgrade)
  • Colorado River boat ride (15 min) and Helicopter ride (optional upgrade)

Wow, people love this trip! Read what others have to say about this full-day tour and view the complete itinerary (viator.com)

Grand Canyon Western Ranch Experience with Helicopter Tour and Optional Horseback Ride

A great way to get an authentic Old West experience at the Grand Canyon! Visit the Grand Canyon Western Ranch and take a wagon ride to the heliport where you’ll get to experience a 20-minute helicopter flight above the Grand Canyon.

From $330 per person

Duration: 8 hours

Itinerary:

  • Depart Las Vegas on a drive to Grand Canyon Western Ranch
  • Ride in an old-fashioned wagon to the heliport
  • 20-minute helicopter tour of the Grand Canyon
  • Western-style barbecue dinner complete with cowboy tales and Native American history
  • 45-minute horse ride through historic ranch property (optional upgrade)

Includes:

  • Hotel pickup and drop-off
  • Grand Canyon Western Ranch
  • Headsets for the guided tours
  • Live entertainment
  • Meal with a non-alcoholic beverage (alcoholic beverages available for purchase)
  • Optional horseback ride

A fun day at the Grand Canyon! View the full itinerary and read what other travelers had to say about this tour (viator.com)

Final Thoughts

For the value, and my sense of adventure, my top two tours are the:

Grand Canyon 4-in-1 Helicopter Tour where I can see the Grand Canyon from the air, river, and a cultural perspective. The price is great and it gets us outside and enjoying a day of sunshine and activity juxtaposed to enjoying our time indoors on the Strip.

Vegas Night Out: Helicopter Tour and Show Package because I visit Las Vegas to see shows! My show pick for this tour is Legends in Concert and enjoying a helicopter ride just adds to the glitz and glam that would make this a fantastic night out. Whether you pick one of those or another one, enjoy!

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