You look down at the amazing scenery and ‘wow’ just doesn’t do it justice. The view of Muskoka and the surrounding areas from above is a breathtaking experience.
It’s stunning in summer when the lakes are shimmering. And it’s only going to get better. At the height of fall colours, Muskoka and Algonquin Park aren’t just stunning: the sight is truly one of the natural wonders of the world. And there simply is no better way to experience it than from a helicopter.
“There is nothing in the world like witnessing Muskoka’s fall colours from above,” says Jay McMackin. “The blue lakes, soaring green pines, and endless rolling carpet of oranges and reds… Wow! It’s still awe-inspiring even to pilots who have seen it many times before.”
Jay is the chief pilot and operations manager of HOVR Aviation. Fall colour tours are just a small part of the service the Muskoka-based firm offers.
With a fleet of different helicopters, their team of pilots and ground crew are equipped to elevate any travel plans – literally and figuratively.
They offer specialty flights, including a proposal tour which includes travel to and from a cliff with a stunning view, champagne for two, and more.
There are fly-and-play golf tours, trips to view Toronto’s iconic skyline from the air, Niagara vineyard tours at golden hour, fly-and-dine trips to specially selected locations, and much more. They’re all curated to give guests a whole new perspective on destinations – both the well-known and the undiscovered. Each tour provides a new and memorable experience to the guests on the flight.
“No matter who you are with or what the occasion, we make those moments all the more memorable,” says Jay.
Helicopter tours definitely create fantastic experiences, but they also provide incredible opportunities to capture professional calibre photography and video from above.
Whether you’re a professional operator or a keen amateur, HOVR pilots are adept at handling photo and video specific flights to help you get the exact shot you want – including hovering over locations for different angles and repositioning the craft to adjust for the sun’s position in the sky.
A helicopter flight can be an efficient way to conduct a wide array of other businesses, too. Investors can get an entirely new perspective on real estate, even scouting several properties in one short flight. Or you can make an impression on potential clients by inviting them to Muskoka and sending a helicopter to pick them up.
The full-service charter company also offers heavy lifting services, which is highly valued by contractors who need to access remote sites. Their clientele includes commercial clients such as Hydro One, the provincial Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, and many others.
Each helicopter in the fleet has ideal uses, with one being better for carrying building supplies, another perfect for small group sightseeing, one that can carry six passengers plus their luggage, and so on.
Beat the trafficEnjoying the luxurious comfort of being in a helicopter high above the crowded highways is a great way to beat the traffic, arrive at your Muskoka destination faster and allow a little bit of rest time on the way.
The helicopter may even be able to drop you at the end of your dock, on the lawn, or at the resort where you’re staying. Depending on wind speed, the trip from Toronto to Muskoka is only 40 minutes. You’ll be relaxing and enjoying Muskoka well before many others have even made it north of the 401.
Operating out of the Muskoka Airport in Gravenhurst and flying to all major Toronto area airports – Pearson International, Buttonville, and Billy Bishop, as well as private helipads throughout the city – HOVR Aviation’s services are in convenient locations.
“We have flexible times and landing zones,” explains Jay. “We can get you to and from the city without all the stress of being in highway traffic.”
Flight schoolThere are those who take a ride in a helicopter, and then can’t wait to go back up: they have the bug for flying.
For those people, Jay and his team run a Muskoka-based flight school that can help feed the bug in a big way. Becoming a licensed helicopter pilot takes 40 hours of ground school and 45 hours of flight time.
“We’ll teach them everything they need to know to safely fly solo, and fulfill their dream of being a helicopter pilot,” says Jay.
With so many options available, the hardest part isn’t deciding to go up: it’s choosing which trip to enjoy first.
TEXT CHRIS OCCHIUZZI | PHOTOS ANDREW FEARMAN & MIKE REYNO