Easter weekend, what an amazing long weekend the Gold Coast had this year. Superb weather with crystal clear skies and the long running summer the GC is known for. The southern states have already met their winter season, but thank goodness for the Gold Coast.
Families flooded the theme parks, beaches and restaurants. Surfers and stand up paddleboarders were out in their hoardes, making the most of the turquoise water and warm temperature.
But I explored the Gold Coast from a different angle, a birds eye view. Located next to the Gold Coast Airport in Bilinga at Hangar 51, my journey started here. On entry to the hangar, I was escorted through to a viewing platform overlooking the runways of the airport.
It was early, I had not yet had a coffee, but there was a vending machine staring at me clear in the face and yes, they had iced coffee. Boom town! I was now very hyped to go.
From the viewing platform, I was able to watch a couple of helicopters go up and return. And then, it was our turn.
We met our pilot, Captain Muffet (codename: Muffin), possibly the friendliest (and best looking) helicopter pilot there ever was. Maybe it was the aviators, apparently a compulsory apparel item for pilots (thank you Top Gun).
After a minimum briefing and a small amp up for our trip, we were out on the runway, walking past numerous aircrafts that I would be quite happy to shoot up to Hamilton Island in, no doubt they cost a pretty penny.
We could see Chinese tourists lining up to take photos with their hero pilot after their own flights in front of another helicopter. A minibus of tourists were all on a total high after their flight, so I was ready for ours.
Our helicopter was a little maroon one (obviously QLD proud). They always look so much smaller close up. I was beginning to think, ‘this is all that is going to hold us’. But there’s no room for nerves, I was in the front seat. Next to the Captain though, so that made me feel safer.
After jumping in the front, putting our fancy seatbelts on, and chucking on the headphones (with mic!), now I felt like we were ready. A few more safety reminders and it was go time. One of the cool benefits of sitting in the front, while yes, you get to have the best view in the house, you also get to see how tricky it is to fly one of those things. Yep, don’t think I’ll be doing that anytime soon, leave that one to the professionals.
Captain Muffin had a cool story how he fell in love with flying. Originally a Gold Coast Surf Lifesaver, he left the GC lifestyle for the joy of jumping out of helicopters and saving people in northern QLD. Yeah that’s right, JUMPING out of helicopters to save people in rough seas. I saw some of his videos, it’s insane and not for the faint hearted! But not content with that, he wanted to be the one flying the helicopters, so low and behold, here he is flying tourists around his beloved GC on the weekends and jumping out of helicopters during the week.
Anyway, back to the flight. The control tower gave the ok. The blades overhead began to turn slowly, as they turned faster, we slowly began to lift off. We were airborne and hovering above the takeoff point ready to go.
To be honest, one of the best things about this experience is taking kids. We had a wee one with us who loved nothing more than listening to his own voice on the microphone. I’m pretty sure the Captain turned his mic off for some silence, but screams of excitement really add to the experience.
We took off from the airport and looped down over Kirra, onto Coolangatta and Tweed Heads. As it was a perfectly clear day, the waters at this end of the coast never looked so blue. We saw skydivers landing on the beach, another spectacular way to see this amazing part of the Gold Coast. Personally, the beaches in the south are my favourite. They offer calmer waters for casual swimmers, but the outstanding waves at Snapper Rocks for keen surfer. The turquoise water was dotted with brightly coloured surf boards all along the coast awaiting their turn for the next big wave.
As we flew north up past Tugun, Currumbin and to Palm Beach, the famous coastal skyline was never far away. Overlooking the houses of the Palm Beach, while I couldn’t quite spot mine, it was interesting to see the development that is happening on the Coast. Not long ago, cranes in the sky were a distant memory, but it’s great to see the Gold Coast moving again with some positive changes.
It wasn’t long before we were flying back to our initial departure point and getting ready to land. The flight was so smooth, it felt like a dream. Hovering over houses, floating over seas and drifting back to earth. But the dream was over, back to reality.
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By Carly Snodgrass