Living the High Life
Hit the Grand Canyon and Electric Daisy Carnival with Maverick Helicopters' unforgettable tourss
We’ve just left Las Vegas behind in our $3 million Eco-Star helicopter. Seven of us are strapped into seats and surround-sound headsets, listening to pilot Jim Ogletree describe the vistas and points of interest below us to his iPod soundtrack of songs such as “Free Ride” and “A Million Miles Away.” We’re on the Wind Dancer Air and Landing Tour, one of a dozen airborne rides offered by Maverick Helicopters. Subdivisions that look like model train neighborhoods give way to red rock mountain ridges that we fly over before heading toward Lake Mead, the Hoover Dam, a dormant volcano called Fortification Hill and the Grand Canyon.
Maverick’s Eco-Star fleet hovers over Las Vegas day and night, providing multiple ways to experience the neon of the Strip or the natural wonder of the Grand Canyon, and shuttling passengers back and forth between Maverick’s terminal located west of McCarran International Airport, just south of the “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” sign, and the Las Vegas Motor Speedway for special events. This week, Ogletree’s hours will be 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. as Maverick enables Electric Daisy Carnival partiers to fly over the traffic and strike out for the three-day festival directly from the Speedway’s landing pad. He’s not really an electronic dance music aficionado and has seen a lot of terrain from a high altitude, but describes viewing the glowing nighttime EDC spectacle from above as unforgettable.
“We’ve been with EDC since they moved to Las Vegas,” says Bryan Kroten, Maverick’s vice president of marketing. “This will be the fourth year now. We also have exclusive rights to the NASCAR races as well. It’s a straight shot, going from Point A to Point B, but the good thing about going to Point B is it goes right over the Vegas Strip. You get to see the Bellagio fountains and the new High Roller (at The Linq), but also, as you’re approaching EDC, you get a great view of the festival from the sky.”
Last year, Maverick transported several hundred people per night via 15 helicopters. “We transfer not only the fans but many of the artists as well. The who’s who that you see on the billboards around town could be sitting next to you on the way to EDC.” But even if they aren’t sitting next to you, a Maverick ride could mean riding in the same seat in which Tiësto or Avicii was shuttled to the Speedway. It definitely makes the trek back to the hotels easier for weary partiers who just finished dancing until dawn.
And it could lead to temptation to try more tours. Ogletree is a fount of light humor and factoids about Hoover Dam community Boulder City, Fortification Hill and the Grand Canyon itself. We descend 3,500 feet into an area on the Grand Canyon’s western edge and touch down on landing pads 300 feet above the Colorado River. Brief walkabouts are encouraged after Ogletree breaks out some champagne, cheese and fruits, then it’s a short skip to a refueling zone before heading back and getting one more run over the Strip before my fellow passengers return to their hotels and cross one more entry off their bucket lists.
Maverick Helicopters, 6075 Las Vegas Blvd. S., prices and packages vary. 702.261.0007