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Sightseeing at New Heights

Behind the Scenes with Vertiport Chicago VIP Helicopter Tour

A helicopter flight with Vertiport will literally take the Chicago sightseeing experience above and beyond expectations, covering major attractions and beautiful skylines in a brief flight. Vertiport pilot, Ken Janik, shares his experience as the guide and pilot of the helicopter sightseeing tours.

While sightseeing tours may still be new to Vertiport, piloting helicopters is no new feat for Janik. With 25 years of flying experience, Janik said he doesn’t really face any challenges during the flights, a positive reassurance for passengers.

“The only sort of thing we don’t like is bad weather to where we would have to cancel tours or postpone them,” said Janik. “There really is not a down side.”

Not everyone is as comfortable flying, however, and Janik said he often meets passengers who express being very nervous before the flight.

“I always tell them that they may be scared now but five minutes into the flight they’ll forget why they had any questions about going,” said Janik. “When we fly around the city, they are more excited about seeing more attractions and buildings and different things that they have heard about if they are from out of town or things they’ve always wanted to see from the air if they’re from Chicago itself.”

Tourists and locals alike are eager to fly over Downtown Chicago and spot major attractions such as Grant Park, Navy Pier, Wrigley Field, and more.

“It’s a completely different sense of the city,” said Janik. “On the aircraft that we use, you are flying with headsets on and can talk to family and friends. It is a nice experience seeing the city from that high, not dealing with all the traffic and the people and the cars, you are sort of by yourself just looking at what you want to look at.”

While Janik said he is aware most people can’t or won’t do both the day and night tours, he said he always recommends people try out both very different experiences.

“The night tour is completely different than the day,” said Janik. “Usually during the day, they can pick up more sights, more buildings. Then again, the night tour is just a completely different experience all together, with the lights on the buildings, the skylines, and, depending on the time of year, we do firework tours.”

Anthony Pontarelli, the CEO of Vertiport, added that the night tours tend to be more romantic for couples, and calls for planned proposals have become common.

Guests who are limited to one tour however, will find that the Windy City tour is the most popular sightseeing flight. This 15-minute tour for $150 per person is the shortest tour and significantly cheaper than the other options.

“The price point is better for 15 minutes,” said Pontarelli. “People can justify it, you know, 300 bucks for two people, money that people would spend on dinner or going to a show or a Hawk’s game.”

While 15 minutes may sound short, Janik said it is a good timeline for people who may be hesitant to flying, to hit the major sights without dragging on for too long.

“To most people, the city is so condensed in a 15-minute tour you can see, I want to say, about 95% of everything that you would want to see,” said Janik.

Whether flying day or night, for 15 minutes or 30 minutes, Janik enjoys all the sightseeing tours the same.

“Every time I fly it’s a different experience, so there is really not a down side to going up and flying,” said Janik. “Seeing the reactions of people who haven’t seen the city that way before, it’s good to hear.”


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