For my birthday, Rich arranged for us to take a 30-minute helicopter ride over Seattle through Classic Helicopters. I didn’t know what to expect, but was surprisingly calm about going up in a small mosquito of a helicopter with a front windshield that provided a greater than 180-degree view from top-to-bottom, and side-to-side.
Because Rich had been in a helicopter before, he wanted me to sit in the front seat with the pilot. With two cameras in hand, we gently lifted off the ground and hovered for a few minutes before getting clearance from Boeing Field air traffic control.
The word that keeps coming to mind when I think about the ride is "floating." Aside from moving across the horizon, which my eyes perceived, there was virtually no movement. It was this glorious floating sensation that allowed me to look down at awe at Seattle and the surrounding landscape and many waterways, including Lake Washington, Lake Union, and the Puget Sound.
I was Peter Pan’s Wendy for 30-minutes drinking in the sites and occasionally snapping a picture. Fortunately, Rich was more composed and snapped most of the nearly 100 pictures that we took. Here are some of my favorites.
This is downtown Bellevue with Interstate 405 to the right. I work in the Bravern I tower, which is the first building, across from the circular cloverleaf with a tree in the middle.
Bellevue is a few miles from the Microsoft main campus in Redmond.
Mercer Island is in Lake Washington. A bridge connects the "east side" to this island and then continues west to Seattle. Rich and I have sailed on this lake many times.
From a helicopter, you can see how much water surrounds the area.
The Montlake Cut connects Lake Washington to Lake Union and Seattle. To the right is the University of Washington campus. North, through Lake Union, you can see the houseboat where "Sleepless in Seattle" was filmed along with several of the boats from the series "Deadliest Catch."
Seattle is a BIG city with over 600,000 people and over 3,340,000 in the metro area. No wander why traffic is so bad. Between the number of people and constraints imposed by the waterways, traffic is terrible!
The Space Needle was built for the 1962 World’s Fair The quirky blue, burgundy and silver structure to the left is the Experience Music Project, built by Paul Allen.
This area has been attractions and parks that were originally built for the fair.
Here’s another view of the Space Needle, which is 605 feet tall and 138 feet wide. It can also withstand winds up to 200 miles per hour along with earthquakes up to 9.1 magnitude.
At the top is an observation deck and restaurant; neither one we’ve been too.
Towards the top of the picture, you can see two "bridge-like" structures. This is the roof of Safeco Field, which can be opened during fair weather. Microsoft holds their annual company meeting at Safeco Field. Dozens of buses transport tens of thousands of employees.
The helicopter pilot banked over Safeco Field so we could snap a few pictures.
The grass is very green as is the landscape around the area. Seattle is called the Emerald City because of its lush vegetation… and because it’s truly a magical place to live (or visit).
Seattle’s waterfront host vehicles of all sizes from huge cruise ships coming and going to Canada and Alaska to ferries, tour boats, barges, tug boats, commercial ships (notice the cranes for loading and unloading ships), and of course yachts, sailboats, and motor boats. The tall buildings are downtown.
This is the popular Shilshole Bay Marina, north of downtown Seattle. Most of the marina is comprised of sailboats, which enables direct access to the Puget Sound and smooth sailing to the San Juan Islands up to Canada and Alaska.
There’s a large sailing school at this marina.
Rich snapped a shot of me as we returned to Boeing Field. Below is Interstate 5 along with a railroad corridor. This corridor is also where the helicopter fly to keep out of the way of commercial and private planes going to and from Boeing Field, and the main airport for the area, SeaTac. The latter is halfway between Seattle and Tacoma, hence the name.
While we were in the air for just 30 minutes, the experience and the sites will last a lifetime.