Do You Dare? Helicopter Tours Amazing but not Failproof

  • Grand Canyon, Arizona

    The Grand Canyon attracts more helicopter tour passengers than anywhere else in the United States – an estimated 800,000 per year. Unfortunately, with such beauty comes great danger, as is proven by the fact that at least 50 people have died in fatal crashes in the past 15 years.

    Photo courtesy of Martjin Nijenhuis

  • Victoria Harbour, Hong Kong

    A 2010 brush with death will likely have the 13 passengers of a tour helicopter that crashed into Hong Kong's Victoria Harbour thinking twice before leaving solid ground again. The chopper in question was ferrying visitors from Hong Kong to the nearby gambling island of Macau when it had to make an emergency "landing" in the harbor. All 13 passengers survived the ordeal. . . would you? 

    Photo courtesy of JMR_Photography

  • Niagara Falls, Canada/New York

    After a mid-air collision killed four Niagara Falls helicopter tour participants in 1992, a local lawmaker commented that such an accident was "inevitable," but that hasn't done much to squelch the popularity of the tour. If you decide to hop in a chopper to see the falls, you can expect to share that limited airspace with a dozen other aircraft – what many would call a disaster waiting to happen.

    Photo courtesy of Triple Tri

  • Ayers Rock, Australia

    For Australian model Beverly Weynton and her fellow helicopter passengers, taking a helicopter was probably a once-in-a-lifetime experience, especially since they crashed into an rocky outcropping after a photo shoot on the famous Ayers Rock.  Luckily for them, the gas tanks didn't explode upon impact and Beverly walked away relatively unscathed.  Would you fly to Uluru via chopper?  

    Photo courtesy of Marc Veraart

  • Las Vegas, Nevada

    Several tourists - including at least one pair of newlyweds - didn't survive their bird's eye view of Las Vegas.  Since the fatal Sin City crash which killed seven people back in 2003, helicopter tour companies have started to change flight routes and institute pilot surveillance systems to prevent future incidents, but birds have still gone down since.  Would you gamble by placing your fate in rotors?   

    Photo courtesy of Pete the painter

  • New York City, NY

    New York City is the third most popular helicopter tour destination in the US, and many an unlucky passenger has gotten a closer look at the Hudson and East Rivers than they would have liked. Sightseeing helicopters crashed into the Hudson in 2005 and 2007, while another collided with a small plane in 2008, killing all nine passengers.  Helicopters don'e have the same options as Capt. Scully on his glide to safety. 

    Photo courtesy of CBP Photography

  • Cozumel, Mexico

    Cozumel has only had one dangerous helicopter incident, but it resulted in the deaths of 14 passengers, including 12 Americans. In November 1994, a helicopter pilot taking passengers just off the coast of Cozumel radioed in to report engine trouble and crashed into the waters of the Caribbean just minutes later. Next time you're in Mexico, should you stick to the beach?  

    Photo courtesy of Ed Schipul

  • New Zealand

    While New Zealand's helicopter tour safety record is certainly better than some, there have been fatalities and brushes with death. In March 2013, it was the helicopter pilot who died upon crash, after dropping off some visiting hunters in the Omaru Valley.  Would you charter a chopper to a remote location?   

    Photo courtesy of Phillip Capper

  • Kauai's Na Pali Coast

    Hawaii, one of the world's most popular helicopter tour destinations, is also one of the deadliest. Between 1997 and 2007, 13 crashes were reported, and in November 2011, five people, including a pair of newlyweds, lost their lives in a crash while touring the island of Molokai. While nearly every island has been marred by accidents, Kauai's Na Pali Coast has proved the most dangerous.

    Photo courtesy of Kory Westerhold

  • Greenland Glaciers

    Helicopter tourism is only just taking off in icy Greenland, but the industry has been deadly from the get-go. In 1993, a Bell 212 helicopter crashed near the town of Innaarsuit, killing both pilots and two passengers, but leaving three survivors – a mother and her two children.  Would you take your family aboard a helicopter tour?  

    Photo courtesy of Visit Greenland