A Helicopter Flight over Bend, Oregon

If you have never flown in a helicopter, it is a must and should be added to your bucket list. It does not even compare to flying in an airplane. 



I recently had the opportunity to take my first flight in a helicopter with Big Mountain Heli Tours out of Bend, Oregon. It was a beautiful clear, warm day in June.  There were three of us and a pilot.

We climbed into the small four-seater helicopter at the Bend Airport.

Due to the warm weather, the doors to the helicopter had been removed, which was an added bonus.  The helicopter had comfortable seating and wraparound windows. They are designed for sightseeing and feature a nearly 180 degree field of view, clear passenger to pilot communications, in cabin air-conditioning, and even a heater for the cooler days.


After strapping in with the seat belts and putting on the headphones, the pilot warmed up the helicopter for a few minutes. During this time, he explained how the helicopter flies and the movement we would encounter within the different air currents.

When we lifted off, you could hardly tell you were in the air or moving. If you have ever been in a hot air balloon, that is what it felt like.

All of a sudden we were off the ground. A gentle lift and we were airborne. It was so different from racing down a runway on an airplane. Instead, we slowly rose vertically much like an elevator. We left the Bend Airport and headed west towards the mountains, gradually gaining elevation. We flew over Pilot Butte, Drake Park, and the Deschutes River.


We saw all the neighborhoods, downtown Bend, the Old Mill District, schools, golf courses, and the big lava flow between Lava Butte and the Deschutes River. We saw Sunriver in the distance and all the mountains in Central Oregon. It started to get a little chilly as we approached the mountains, and thankfully we were advised to bring jackets.

Looking straight ahead, Mt. Bachelor was getting larger as we approached.


There’s still plenty of snow up there, and I expect the Mt. Bachelor July 4 ski weekend to draw a big crowd. We flew around Mt. Bachelor to see Sparks Lake, Hosmer Lake, and bright blue Devil’s Lake in the distance. We then flew towards South Sister and Broken Top. The Green Lakes area is still pretty frozen over and this year, we might have to wait until August to hike in there.


Flying over Broken Top’s rocky ridges was unbelievable. We were so close!

We then came around Tam McArthur Rim, which I have yet to hike. Three Creeks Lake was snow-free and beautiful. It was probably 45 degrees in the air and while we were all in shorts, the scenery we were taking in made us forget the cooler temperature.

We were snapping pictures and taking videos and trying not to miss a thing!


On our way back to Bend, we flew over Tumalo Falls. This was incredible! What a sight to see from the air. The North Fork Trail, which runs along the river above the falls was fun to see as I have hiked and biked that trail many times.

As we approached Bend, we flew over the forested mountain bike trails and had a great view of the new white water park in the Old Mill.

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We proceeded on towards the Bend Airport where we slowly came in and hovered over our landing spot. The pilot easily put the helicopter on the ground and sadly, our flight was over.

It was such a nice day and the flight was so smooth. We did feel the air currents and it was exhilarating as we floated through the air in this tiny, elegant flying machine. I almost felt like a bird flying through the air because you could feel the currents and with no doors, the fresh clean air was all around us.

Flying over Bend offers some spectacular scenery!

I have flown in and out of the Redmond Airport numerous times, but the flights all go to Portland or Seattle so you don’t ever fly over Bend. To see Bend from the air is very interesting with all of it’s unique features.

Big Mountain Heli Tours offers scenic flights over Bend, Mt. Bachelor, the Three Sisters, Broken Top, McKenzie River and Tumalo Falls. They also offer flights over Smith Rock and to the wineries in Terrebonne – they have special permission to land in their fields.

Big Mountain Heli Tours, in partnership with Bend’s premier flight school – Leading Edge Aviation, is staffed by highly experienced commercial pilots and mechanics who have a passion for flying helicopters in and around Bend’s big blue mountain playground.


Big Mountain Heli Tours was created to showcase the very best of Bend and Central Oregon to the estimated 3 million guests who visit us each year.

The next flight I would like to take is to land at Maragas Winery in Terrebonne, have a private tasting, a picnic lunch outside, and fly back to Bend over Smith Rock State Park and the Crooked River. Thank you for a memorable moment, Big Mountain Heli Tours!



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