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Let me just preface this by saying that I didn’t mean to become the blogger obsessed with air tours. It just kind of happened.

It all started many take-offs ago in Las Vegas, when I decided an aerial view of the city’s neon lights would be the perfect birthday kick-off. Then came Hawaii, where the only way to spy red-hot lava was from the seat of helicopter. The only way, you guys! In Peru, my friend Zoe dared me to fly over the Nazca Lines, and I just couldn’t say no. Later I found myself back in Nevada, and realized the only way to top my first Grand Canyon experience was to literally top it. And recently I found myself in New Orleans, where my sister giddily expressed interested in seeing her new city from above.

Miami Sightseeing Flight

So, you see, it was kind of an accident. But, now being a bit of a flying aficionado, I couldn’t help but think that the perfect way to celebrate my girl Michelle’s first trip to Miami was to take her on a .

Miami Sightseeing Flight

When we arrived at North Perry Airport, about thirty minutes north of Downtown Miami, we were greeted like old friends. The charming guy at check-in joked that he was going to work on switching shifts with the pilot on duty to take us up himself, and pleasantly taking endless plane-side glamour shots with our multiple cameras. Later, the patriarch of this charmingly family-run business came out to introduce himself as well, and after a chat about where we were from and what we were doing in Miami, he pressed his card into each of our hands, assuring us in thick Italian-American accent, “We’re New Yorkers too, you know. God forbid, anything happens to you down here, you just don’t hesitate to give us a call. You’ve got friends here now.”

It was such a warm, sincere gesture I felt a lump rise in my throat.

The sky was inky black as we took off, and I calmed the familiar jitters in my stomach by chatting to our pilot about his extensive aeronautical engineering career. Soon, however, the conversation turned to the beautiful sights below, starting with the Fort Lauderdale skyline.

Evening Flight over Miami

Miami Sightseeing Flight

One frustration on this tour was that I found picture taking extremely difficult — it was later at night and therefore darker than my New Orleans tour had been, and there was less ambient man-made light than in Las Vegas. Eventually I resigned myself to putting down the camera and just enjoying seeing the sights from not behind a lens.

Evening Flight over Miami

Miami Sightseeing Flight

From the air, we excitedly caught peeks of both my cousin’s downtown apartment building and the stretch of South Beach where we’d stayed. Our pilot also pointed out additional sights, like — I kid you not — Ricky Martin’s Miami Beach mansion, topped in a dome that pulsed with technicolor lights.

We were able to get a full lay of the land, and I felt like I understood the layout of ribbon-like Miami Beach with new clarity.

Evening Flight over Miami

Miami Sightseeing Flight

Soon, we were back on the ground and giggling from the adrenaline rush. Waving goodbye to our sweet new friends, we were ready to take on the night.

Driving back to Miami, I mused that both tours I took this trip were huge successes based on the fact that I basically plan to repeat them on my next trip to Miami — I’m already looking forward to the Wynwood or Little Havana version of the food tour I took, and I’d love to fly above Miami for a second time and appreciate the various turquoise hues of the ocean.

My only hesitation in recommending this amazing tour is that it’s best for those with their own wheels. We extended our road trip rental for this reason, as an hour-long round trip cab ride outside Miami to the North Perry Airport certainly can’t be cheap.

North Perry Airport Miami

Miami, I’ll be back soon.

Miami Sightseeing Flight

What’s one city you’re itching to fly over? My next conquest, I hope, is New York City!

. . . . . . . . .

I am a member of the Viator Ambassador initiative and participated in this tour as part of that program.

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38 Comments...
  • Carmel
    April 10 2015

    It’s so true what you said about getting the lay of the land below. I’d love to do an air tour. I enjoy having a good read of a map before I go anywhere. I like to get an idea in my mind of the layout of a town or city. An air tour would be just the ticket for that!I’d love to visit New York someday so if or when that happens, maybe I’ll take to the sky some evening!
    Carmel recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      April 11 2015

      Yes! I still need to see New York from above. The rare glimpse out the window of a commercial flight isn’t enough…

  • Priya
    April 10 2015

    Sounds like a good obsession. I’ve never did an air tour. Maybe I’ll put it on my list of things to do πŸ™‚
    Priya recently posted..

  • Kacy
    April 10 2015

    I’ve never done a helicopter tour and have to admit the idea of it gives me a bit of a twist in my stomach, but I’m hoping to tackle at least one while in South America. I’m thinking maybe over the Iguazu Fall may be the perfect first flight.
    Miami definitely looks gorgeous from above!
    Kacy recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      April 11 2015

      That would be unreal! Or if you’re heading to the Nazca Lines, that might be something to consider!

  • Katie
    April 10 2015

    Gah! I love skyline shots! Fine, I’ll put Miami on the list. πŸ˜‰ Your photos turned out lovely after all, and as an added bonus you put down the camera for a minute. I know how hard that can be!
    Katie recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      April 11 2015

      Ha, for me, it’s usually basically impossible! I’m always grateful when I do though.

  • Marni
    April 10 2015

    Beautiful photos and it looks like such a blast! Every time you do an air tour, it makes me want to go on one even more!

    • Meihoukai
      April 11 2015

      They are pretty addictive… just wait till you start doing them yourself!

  • Leah
    April 10 2015

    I’ve never done a flight tour at night! I imagine that would be tricky to photograph, but you got some good ones anyway! New York would be awesome, but I’d probably want to go during the day…or during the sunset!
    Leah recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      April 11 2015

      Yeah, New Orleans at sunset was the perfect call. We got the best of both worlds!

  • Emily
    April 10 2015

    It seems like a neat way to explore a city. I would love an air tour of New York, Paris, and ALL of Iceland πŸ™‚
    Emily recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      April 11 2015

      Ah, we looked into doing one in Iceland but they are CRAZY expensive there (as are most things in Iceland!) But I bet it would be magical.

  • Justine
    April 10 2015

    It’s decided…when I strike it rich I’m going to have a dome on top of my mansion that lights up. Amazing!
    Justine recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      April 11 2015

      Ha, we could not stop laughing at that tidbit. It seemed so unreal I had to look it up when we were back on the ground — but it’s a fact!

  • Camels & Chocolate
    April 11 2015

    I feel like “scenic flights over cool ass cities” has kind of become your brand.
    Camels & Chocolate recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      April 11 2015

      I wouldn’t mind using that as an alternative tagline…

  • Kat
    April 11 2015

    It’s so amazing seeing cities from above like this in your posts. Always think they look so pretty at night too! I did a helicopter tour over Cape Town with my family when I was younger, but I seem to have become a bit of a scaredy cat over the years so haven’t done one since – though your posts are making me reconsider!

    • Meihoukai
      April 11 2015

      Oh man, I still get scared! I think it is worth working through the fear for, though. Amazing views and such a thrill!

  • I have some amazing air tours coming up this year which I am really looking forward to! I wouldn’t be surprised if I became addicted like you. You did really well with those photos, even with the difficulties.
    Michelle | Lights Camera Travel recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      April 11 2015

      Thanks Michelle, I appreciate that! It was quite the photographic struggle.

  • Lucy
    April 11 2015

    I’ve been enjoying your air tour blogs so, so much. I’ve always kind of felt like they were a lot of money for not a lot of buzz, but I’m really feeling like this is changing my mind – it looks absolutely incredible. Cheers! xxx
    Lucy recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      April 11 2015

      I’m definitely a convert. For a special trip or occasion? Well worth the cash!

  • becky hutner
    April 12 2015

    I can’t say I have a specific city flyover in mind but my best one to date was Los Angeles on 4th of July, landing just as the fireworks started going off. I’d completely forgotten what day it was so it was a blissful surprise.
    becky hutner recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      April 13 2015

      Um WOW! I’m actually surprised they let you fly when fireworks were going off? I don’t know why but I would have guessed that would be some kind of hazard!

  • Ayngelina
    April 20 2015

    Sometimes you just need to put down the camera and enjoy, it sounds like this one was worthwhile.
    Ayngelina recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      April 21 2015

      A hard thing for a blogger to accept, but yes… it is necessary on occasion πŸ™‚

  • Laura
    April 20 2015

    I’ve never done anything like that before. Seems like such an awesome way to see a city. You’ve inspired me!
    Laura recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      April 21 2015

      What a compliment Laura! Definitely give it a try one of these trips…

  • Diana Edelman
    April 20 2015

    What a gorgeous view! I’ve only been in a small plane once, and while I loved it, I still cannot believe I had the guts to do it. Your experiences sound amazing, and I hope one day I can harness that newfound scaredycat-ness and hop on one of these tours!

    • Meihoukai
      April 21 2015

      I bet if you did it once you could do it again πŸ™‚

  • Ligeia and Mindy
    April 21 2015

    Great post with fantastic pics!!!
    Have you ever thought about getting your pilot’s license? Might be something you would enjoy. πŸ™‚
    We think getting areal pics of the Vatican would be pretty cool…and of course New York City!
    Ligeia and Mindy recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      April 21 2015

      Actually, during the last few flights I’ve taken I have thought about what a cool thing that would be to do someday! I really look forward to tackling it at some point… if I dare!

  • Giselle and Cody
    April 21 2015

    That looks like so much fun. I’ve (Giselle) done a flying tour over the Nazca lines in Peru, a helicopter tour over Toronto, and took a very small plane into the Amazon in Peru. They were all fantastic, but we’ve never done a moonlight tour. Very cool.

    • Meihoukai
      April 21 2015

      It’s definitely a little eerier at night! I think the Nazca lines was the coolest flight I’ve ever done… that or the Vegas strip πŸ™‚

  • Yolo Boat Rentals
    November 30 2015

    WOW what a amazing view that must have been, like never before seen footage of Miami excellent pictures!
    Yolo Boat Rentals recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      November 30 2015

      Thank you! Loved seeing Miami from this angle!