Aerial Photos from Our Las Vegas Flight

Better late than never.

Back in the beginning of March, while my mother-in-law was visiting us from New York, I flew the three of us from Wickenburg to Las Vegas by helicopter.

I chose my favorite route for that flight: straight to Lake Havasu City and up the Colorado River all the way to Lake Mead, then west to McCarran Airport. The flight went well, but strong headwinds turned what should have been a 1.8 hour flight into a 2.5 hour flight. (It also made the flight a bit rough in some places.) Mike, sitting in the back, had my old PowerShot camera. Here are a few of the photos he took along the way. I chose the ones where you can see details within the cockpit to put the scenes in perspective. It’s also kind of cool (at least to me) to see the instruments and gauges in the panel.

Here’s Lake Havasu City. That’s London Bridge below us — the real thing, brought over from England in the 1970s. I always start my upriver flights with an overflight of the bridge.

Much farther up the river, we reached Hoover Dam and the bypass bridge, which is still under construction. Hoover Dam, in case you don’t know, holds in Lake Mead. The white line right above water level is about 60 feet tall and marks the high water line. (The water level is way down.) We would have gotten some better photos of the dam and bridge if the area weren’t so darn congested. There was a tour helicopter high over the dam and a pair of military helicopters that would be cutting right between us, less than 500 feet over my head. I didn’t waste much time there.

After crossing the southwest corner of Lake Mead, I headed west toward the city. Here’s a shot as we were getting ready to cross Lake Las Vegas. If you’ve got sharp eyes (or the full-sized photo) you can see the Las Vegas skyline on the horizon on the right side of the photo.

Air Traffic Control at McCarran instructed me to fly toward the Stratosphere when I was still 15 miles out. I wound up flying just south of it — my altitude was below the glassed-in restaurant/ amusement level of the tower. (At the time, I recall wondering what people looking out at us must have been thinking.) I’m particularly fond of this shot because it’s so damn surreal.

We made our approach to McCarran flying down I-15, then descending between Luxor and Mandalay Bay to land on the ramp. I have video of it from my POV.1, but I don’t think it’s all that good. I’ll have to do it again one of these days with the camera mounted in its new position. (More on that another time.)

5 thoughts on “Aerial Photos from Our Las Vegas Flight

  1. Although I live on the east coast my heart is in Las Vegas. We will retire there someday….sigh…but for now our home is being rented. I’ve seen lots of photos of Las Vegas, many arial shots, but these photos coupled with your passionate descriptions of flying were far above the others. Thank You!!

  2. As someone who is working to get my private pilot ticket, and can only fly a helicopter on Flight Sim…

    I LOVED this report!

    I’ve also read some of your previous posts and really enjoy seeing/reading what it is like to fly in the desert southwest. Including previous trips to Las Vegas.

    Please keep up the great flying (and Las Vegas when y0u go) posts with the photos. Those of us who live here often watch the approach along (more of less) Charleston Blvd. heading toward Stratosphere Tower.

    Ted Newkirk

    Access Vegas CEO

  3. If you’re using a Powershot camera for these photos, I’m guessing it doesn’t have a filter of any kind over the lens.

    So how do you manage to get such clear and glare-free photos?

    Even most of the shots looking forward don’t have any glare or reflection from the helicopter ummm windshield.

    Is it just the skill of the photographer?

    Miraz Jordan’s last blog post..Leopard Tips book

  4. Yes, it was my old PowerShot, the one that subsequently became unreliable. There’s a reflection in one of the photos I included — the one with the Stratosphere. Otherwise, he did a great job. It could be the curvature of the bubble and the fact that the sun was behind us for most shots.

    You need to know that he took about 90 photos. About 10 of them were “good” and interesting. I chose these four to share. The cream of the crop.

    The PowerShot was a good little camera. The replacement I bough — a little Nikon point and shoot — takes better pictures but is much more difficult for me to use in bright sunlight, since it lacks a viewfinder and I must rely on the LCD screen in back for framing.

What do you think?