Experience A Doors Off Helicopter Flight In NYC

Post Summary: Our Experience With A Doors Off Helicopter Flight in NYC

What sparks your sense of adventure? Bungee jumping? Skydiving? (no thanks) Cave spelunking? But what if you’re in the middle of a big city with no mountains in sight, and still want that thrill of something new?

If you’re craving that sense of excitement and adrenaline in the Big Apple, then it’s time for you to experience a doors off helicopter flight in NYC!

Helicopter aerial photography feels like a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. However, it’s more accessible than you think!

In this post, we’re sharing our experience with FlyNYON, what a tour with them is like, and what to expect on this epic helicopter trip around NYC.

Freedom Tower NYC Aerial Photo

What To Expect On A Doors Off Helicopter Flight In NYC

Note: This trip was hosted by B&H Photo/Video and FlyNYON. We tried the new mirrorless Canon EOS R during our helicopter flight around NYC. We had no obligation to post or write about our trip, but had such a fantastic time that we wanted to share our experience anyway!

What Is FlyNYON?

FlyNYON is a recreational and private charter flight company. They specialize in scenic doors-on/doors off helicopter flights in NYC, and also have locations in Miami, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Las Vegas. They also do commercial filming for large video projects!

Berty and I were connected with them through our collaboration with B&H Photo and Video. We went up on a doors off helicopter tour in the early morning with the team to catch the sunrise over Manhattan.

Looking for more amazing photography locations New York City?
Check out the 20 Most Instagrammable Spots in NYC Here!

Aerial Photography during sunrise over NYC

But Isn’t A Doors Off Helicopter Tour Scary?

Doors off helicopter flights are very safe. One would actually argue that they are safer than other types of NYC helicopter tours because of the recent extra precautions that are taken to keep you secure.

FlyNYON takes safety seriously and has a set of videos and demonstrations (that you personally participate in!) to help you feel secure and confident on your aerial photography tour.

They also provide personal flotation devices, emergency release harnesses, and accessories to keep things like phones and cameras secure during flight.

Helicopter Safety Gear Prep

Helicopter Safety Gear Emily Mandagie

Watch this clip of the helicopter getting ready to take off! (Video by Jason Puma of FlyNYON)


Can I Bring My Camera On The NYC Helicopter Tour?

Yes, and it’s encouraged! For safety purposes, FlyNYON allows a max of two devices, which can be any combination of cameras, GoPros, phones, or any other documenting devices you prefer. They even provide camera rentals at their facilities just in case you forget yours or just want an upgrade for the ride.

You can also find them on their active social media scene and hashtag (#FlyNYON) – where they can reshare the photos taken during your aerial photography tour!

Note: Leave your photography accessories on the ground! Lens hoods and add-ons have a risk of falling off, potentially causing serious harm in its fall! You’ll be told to leave these at the base, so be prepared for that.

We’ve written a review on the new Canon EOS R – which is our new favorite mirrorless camera!

Emily Mandagie aerial photography about NYC

Emily Mandagie shooting Canon EOS R above NYC
Watch to see Berty stick his feet off the side of the helicopter! (Video by Jason Puma of FlyNYON)

What Do You See On A Doors Off Helicopter Flight In NYC?

That’s up to you! FlyNYON caters the experience to what YOU want to see. If you’re new to New York City and need some suggestions, here’s what you can see:

  • Statue of Liberty/Ellis Island
  • Governor’s Island
  • Freedom Tower
  • Brooklyn/Manhattan Bridges
  • Central Park
  • New York City Skyline from east and west sides
  • Brooklyn
  • Empire State Building
  • Lower Manhattan
  • Hudson River

Watch this clip to see the Brooklyn Bridge from above! (Video by Jason Puma of FlyNYON)


Berty Mandagie Red Wing Heritage Boots over Lower Manhattan NYC

Statue of Liberty from Doors off Helicopter Flight In NYC

We specifically wanted to schedule a flight for sunrise. This meant we had to arrive and prep for the flight at the FlyNYON facility at 4:30 am! If you’re not an early bird though, no worries. They have plenty of flight times to choose from throughout the day.

Sunrise over Manhattan Skyline

Sunrise over Manhattan Skyline - aerial photography

Red Wing Heritage Boots over New York Skyline in Helicopter

Lower Manhattan Complete view

View of Empire state building from doors off helicopter flight in NYC

Governor's Island from doors off helicopter flight in NYC

Aerial photography of Skyline of West Manhattan NYC

What Do I Pack For A Doors Off Helicopter Flight In NYC?

A doors off helicopter flight in NYC requires a bit more planning than a regular scenic flight. You have to consider the weather, the wind, loose items and a potential fear of heights. However, most helicopter tour companies will provide you with ample preparation guidelines and let you know exactly what you should (and shouldn’t) bring with you before you arrive.

*FlyNYON requires you to empty your pockets before the flight (and seals them in a locked box!) so you don’t have to worry about any loose items in the air.

If you are considering a helicopter tour in New York City, here’s what we suggest packing or wearing:

  • A snug beanie. Your head will get cold, so protect that noggin and bundle up! It’s important to note that hats with pom poms on the top are not allowed.
  • E-tip gloves. If you are considering taking photos (which we HIGHLY recommend), wear a pair of thin but touch-screen friendly gloves to keep your fingers agile.
  • A Wind-proof layer. Cut through the roaring wind with a layer that will keep you warm!
  • Tightly worn shoes or boots.
  • Layers layers layers! Did I mention layers?

Items to leave at home (or at the FlyNYON HQ):

  • Scarves
  • Hats with pom poms (like stated above)
  • Slip-on shoes
  • Loose fitting clothing
  • Anything that is at risk of flying off in strong winds.
Berty Mandagie in Doors off helicopter flight in NYC

Our FlyNYON Experience

If you’re serious about photography, this is an activity you must experience!

Berty and I, with our friends Michael and Rachel, woke up at 3 am and arrived at the FlyNYON HQ at 4:30 am for check-in! We signed up for a sunrise flight, so this meant getting everyone’s paperwork ready, safety videos watched, and gear prepared all before the sun rose.

We all were greeted by the friendliest staff, who helped up gear up, lock our things away, and take us on a short drive through the hangars to greet our pilot. Once at the hangar, we chatted with the pilot about our route and together walked to the helicopter to get properly strapped in!

From there, we spent the next half-hour experiencing the city from the sky. Berty and I shot incredible aerial photographs and new angles thanks to our doors off helicopter flight in NYC. We even dangled our feet off the edge!

We loved FlyNYON because we felt like we were in charge of our own experience. Since New York City is so big, we were able to pick and choose the landmarks we wanted to see during our helicopter tour.

Berty and I experienced New York in a way that many people don’t get to! Seeing Central Park from the sky, the sunrise above the Manhattan skyline and the Statue of Liberty from above was just the beginning of an amazing morning.

Thank You FlyNYON!

We wanted to fully disclose that we were fortunate to have this flight experience compensated for us. However, we believe that gifted or not, we would still take the time and money to invest in this trip. We paid for a similar helicopter tour in Kauai, Hawaii, and those pictures are still some of our very favorite images we’ve ever taken!

Watch this video of us flying over Lower Manhattan! (Video by Jason Puma of FlyNYON)


Would you ever consider taking a doors off helicopter flight in NYC? Tell us what you would want to see first from the sky!


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Want to impress all your Insta friends on your latest vacation? Explore New York City in the sky....on a doors off helicopter flight above NYC! You've never seen New York like this! Get the best aerial photos from the sky. Read all about it here... #NYC #NewYorkCity #sunrise #aerialphotography #manhattan #skyline #brooklynbridge #Instagram #Photography #Travel #helicopter #doorsoff #themandagies


    1. We love it! The Canon EOS R is super lightweight and it performs as good as the Canon 5D4, if not slightly better. We love the color it produces especially for the post-processing in Lightroom and Photoshop. The single card slot is a bummer but we’re going to use it as a great compliment to the Canon 5D4. And not to mention the flip out screen is super nice! πŸ™‚ I’d say, you can’t go wrong by going with the Canon EOS R!