Come Fly with Me: Wheelchair-Friendly Helicopters

Come Fly with Me: Wheelchair-Friendly Helicopters

19% of the population is wheelchair-bound, according to the latest U.S. census. Thanks to a combination of technology and the indomitable human spirit, however, a healthy chunk of this percentage consists of people that are embracing their physical challenges and living life to the full. This list includes enjoying a helicopter ride, which is a bucket list experience for many. If you wish to partake, there are a few things you need to be mindful of before coming aboard.

Embarking and Disembarking

While the shape of a wheelchair-accessible helicopter is the same as a traditional helicopter, there are a few alterations to make it easier to board and exit. The biggest alteration is the entry door, which is typically larger than a standard helicopter’s entryway.  Wheelchair-accessible helicopters also feature the presence of a ramp, which allows the passenger to gradually be rolled into the cabin.

In some cases, ramps can be attached to the entrance at arrival and departure time. In this case, the ramp is typically stored at the landing spot and is brought out when necessary. Some helicopters, however, may already have the ramp built into its design.

Special Requirements

A helicopter can oftentimes be a tight space – much tighter than your typical airplane. Because of this, riders must prepare for certain wheelchair requirements. It’s important to know these requirements before booking your flight, let alone arriving to fly. Failure to do so may result in an experience ranging from frustrating to even impossible.

For instance, helicopter companies typically require you to have a collapsible wheelchair with removable wheels. It’s also common to have them require you to have someone with you to help aid you in boarding and exiting the aircraft. Staff can only usually help board and disembark during emergency situations, with the reasons for this ranging from passenger safety to liability. It’s important to know that putting this latter requirement in place does not put the entity in violation of any ADA regulations.

What’s it Like?

Once you’re seated in a helicopter, your experience will be simply exhilarating. You’ll have no problem seeing the sights from your unique airborne perspective, whether you’ve signed up to fly over a city landscape or a legendary natural wonder. There’s really nothing to enjoying the ride other than look out the window and enjoy the visuals.

There are a few housekeeping rules that you need to be mindful of prior to boarding. For instance, you should wear long pants and a light jacket, and you shouldn’t wear any loose clothing like hats or sunglasses. If you have long hair, you should keep it pulled back. You should also follow all instructions given by your pilot as best as you can. Don’t worry about an emergency while on board, either – your pilot will inform you of an emergency, as well as what to do in the event of one.

If you keep these things in mind, your helicopter trip will be a fantastic excursion. It will also produce memories that will last a lifetime. At the end of the day, that’s exactly the kind of experience you want.

By Jackie Edwards