Come Fly with Me

Fly god knows how many miles high over a huge gaping gorge in a piece of flimsy tin ? I must be mad.

We are introduced to our pilot, Chuck. He's a wisecracking, weather beaten, big bear of a guy who looks like he's been flying all his life.
'Don't worry' he says - 'I haven't lost anyone yet!'
I laugh nervously as he leads us to our waiting chopper at Las Vegas' McCarran airport. Our destination – the Grand Canyon.
Chuck hands out life jackets. Because we will be flying over water it's a Nevada requirement. (What about a parachute? I think to myself.)

Chuck chooses our seats to balance our weight. I find myself upfront, wedged against the door, slightly apprehensive that it will slide open

Seat belts and headphones on and Chuck starts the engine. One of Vegas' best loved sons croons ‘Come Fly with Me’ as the chopper starts to lift off. It feels as light as a feather. In the blink of an eye we are soaring high above Sin City . My stomach lurches.

The glass panoramic view is almost overwhelming. I feel I could fall through the window and glide over the candy coloured casino rooftops as they fall away beneath me.

The Strip is soon behind us as we head out over the Mojave desert. The sun is bathing everything in a warm haze. Chuck points out landmarks .There's Lake Mead........and there's the Hoover Dam. No longer a half remembered geography lesson ...but actually there below us.

'Now, lets go see how amazing Mother Nature really is' ! says Chuck and flips the tape. The Ride of the Valkyries swells in our ears , the helicopter rises over a rocky lip... and there it is ...suddenly spread before us. The Grand Canyon. I swear I gasped.

Astounding in its glory, I am overawed by the sheer scale of it –and painfully aware how small and insignificant we are, huddled in our tiny tin fly, high above its vast emptiness.

'I'm The Grand Canyon ‘ it seems to say and ‘you're just a speck of humanity'. 'Let’s take a closer look!' says Chuck with a manic glint in his eye as he swoops down, dancing and hovering among the neverending riot of colours and crags and crevices.

Too soon the sun starts to turn deep orange and we're heading back to Vegas...

The Strip comes into view as dusk falls and the neon starts to twinkle. Vegas looks like Christmas and fairyland and every magic wish you’ve ever wished. But its manmade pleasure palaces can't quite match up to nature at it's most magnificent....

Back on terra firma I am teary and tell Chuck it was one of the best experiences of my life . He gives me a bear hug. He knows. He experiences it every day.

T Bertram

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