The Grand Canyon from Helicopter: Photos by GoPro Hero 3

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This post is dedicated to the victims of the 9-11 terrorist attack. I watched several specials on it the night before this flight and it just served to convince me more than ever to LIVE my life NOW! Tomorrow is NEVER guaranteed for any of us. There are no do-overs in this life.
Yesterday, (September 12, 2013) I took a helicopter ride over the Grand Canyon. The Canyon is so huge it is very difficult to comprehend the scope of the thing; that’s where the helicopter comes in. By flying over it you can finally start to see its scale.

The GoPro takes great still-photos,

The GoPro takes great still-photos,

Sony DSLR

Taken with the Sony DSLR

It’s an expensive trip but I decided it was a once-in-a-lifetime thing, so I decided would do it. Normal price is $200 for a 25 minute flight, and I upgraded (that cost another $30) to an Eco-Star helicopter because of its superior view. I also paid an extra $50 to get a front seat. I’m glad I did, the view from the front seat is awesome! There were three of us in a front row, the pilot on the left, another passenger, and myself. I had an incredible view! This post is going to be mainly photos from the trip.
The Colorado River taken with the Sony DSLR.

The Colorado River taken with the Sony DSLR.

I told you in my last post I had just bought a GoPro adventure video cam, and this was my first time using it. It cost $329 for the Hero 3 Black Edition, but it is totally worth it!! It has a couple of huge advantages:

  1. Its tiny and light.
  2. Because it is small and light (and the fact it has an ingenious mounting system,) it can be mounted to almost anything in a huge variety of ways.
  3. It comes with an underwater housing (good down to 90 meters) that makes it almost indestructible.
  4. It comes with a remote control and you can also get an app that lets you control it from your smart phone.
  5. It has a super wide-angle lens (fisheye) so you can catch adventure sports up close. For these shots I had it set to it’s narrowest setting to get rid of most of the fish-eye affect.

Here is a link to it on Amazon: GoPro HERO3: Black Edition

Here is a link to the Nikon AW110 on Amazon: Nikon AW110 Waterproof Camera with GPS
For this trip I mounted it onto a head-strap and wore it like a headlamp. It was remarkably comfortable; I wasn’t in a hurry to take it off at the end of the flight. In fact I think I could easily wear it all day. It took some work to learn how to aim it, but once done it’s easy. One nice thing it does is take still-shots as it records video. You can set the interval and I think I set it to take a still shot every 10 seconds. So at the end of the flight I had both a video and many still shots of the flight all without using my hands. The photos speak for themselves! I also shot with my Sony DSLR in my hands. In the caption of each photo, I will tell you which took the picture in the caption.
Here is a link to the head-strap mount on Amazon.com ($10 as of now): GoPro Head Strap Mount for HERO Cameras
Here we are loading onto the aircraft. I think he was getting impatient with my picture-taking! The camera stopped the blade motion but the engine is on and the rotors are turning. You can see how long the shadows are--this was the last flight of the day: 5:20 pm to get the best light.

Here we are loading onto the aircraft. I think he was getting impatient with my picture-taking! The camera stopped the blade motion but the engine is on and the rotors are turning. You can see how long the shadows are–this was the last flight of the day: 5:20 pm to get the best light.

DCIM101GOPRO

The lens was all set the same, but for some reason on this shot it got a lot of fish-eye effect from the GoPro. Probably because the horizon was so far away.

Sony DSLR

Sony DSLR

Taken with the GoPro as we were landing. You can see a private jet in the foreground.

Taken with the GoPro as we were landing. You can see a private jet in the foreground.

Sony--our shadow coming in close.

Sony–our shadow coming in close.

GoPro--Hoovering at the heli-pad.

GoPro–Hoovering at the heli-pad.

The chopper I flew on. Sony

The chopper I flew on. Sony

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32 Comments

  1. CAE

    GoPro’s really are an example of innovation taking a market by storm. The digital camera market has been saturated by major players for quite a while and then along come these guys with a very cleaver and innovating set-up. Almost a garage story.

    • Bob

      CAE, it’s the old story of find a need and fill it. With the explosion of adventure sports there was a huge need for a hand-free, extremely rugged, waterproof camera, and this is it!!
      Bob

  2. m.a.

    Beautiful! I’ve traveled it down below, but from the air it’s spectacular. Glad you did it to share with us.

    • Bob

      m.a. the scale the Canyon makes it hard to comprehend and other way but from the air.
      Bob

  3. DougB

    Thanks, Moneybags! You just saved me $280 plus the cost of the hardware! They use GoPro’s a lot in vintage race cars and motorcycles, and I can tell you that they will give far, far better results that attempting to hand-hold a DSLR while rocketing around a race track as a screaming passenger. Plus, you get to enjoy the ride undistracted.

    • Bob

      Doug, now that is an image, you on the back seat of a motorcycle screaming around a race track taking videos. The GoPro is sounding better all the time eh!
      Bob

  4. Desert Rat

    I flew over Kauai once in a chopper, also various other places, but that’s the one I remember best – the Grand Canyon of the Pacific. If you do that next, you’ll have it all covered, but it might be a bit more costly, given the plane ticket to get there.
    Great photos, BTW.

    • Bob

      Desert Rat, that will have to go on the bucket list!!
      Bob

  5. Kim

    Awesome images, Bob. I’m sure it’s an experience you’ll never forget.

    • Bob

      Kim, it really was a once-in-a-lifetime deal! I’m very glad I did it!
      Bob

  6. gary green

    hey bob ,nice pix’s , were the video?

    • Bob

      Gary videos are a whole new thing for me, so there is going to be a learning curve, and I am not got with those at all!! Don’t hold your breath!!
      Bob

  7. Traveling Troy

    Now that’s the way to do the Grand Canyon! I’m sure your GoPro will come in handy for adventures or possibly an RTR time lapse.
    I haven’t been to the Canyon yet, but last year I was driving from Utah to Texas with my bother and passed near the Grand Canyon. I was thinking we should stop off and do a quick Chevy Chase (National Lampoon’s Vacation) photo opt, but we were in my brother’s car and he didn’t want to pay his half of the 1 car entrance fee. Drat! So close.

    • Bob

      Troy, it isn’t going anywhere!! You will get there at the right time!!
      A time lapse at the RTR! What a great idea, I never would have thought of that. Thanks!
      Bob

  8. DougB

    Now you’re going to get a lot of pressure to get on top of the learning curve of whatever software you’ve chosen, and post a video. Now! Now! Where is it? Daddy, are we there yet?

    • Bob

      Doug, leaning curves and I are not on a very friendly basis. In act I would describe us as mortal enemies. But I will give it a try!
      Bob

    • Bob

      That looks really good Charlene! There are an abundance of mounts and arms on Amazon.com for the GoPro. But that just looks like PVC so it would be very easy to build.
      Bob

    • Bob

      Charlene, great video! It looks like you were moving along pretty good! At first I thought it was a tiny kite but when he reeled it in I could see it was pretty large. Looked like lots of fun.
      The cheapest GoPro Hero 3 (White edition) is only $199. But the Silver is much better for $249 and the Black is a whole magnitude better than either. You get the remote with it and that alone pays for the upgrade. Beyond that it is much more capable.
      Bob

  9. Curtis

    Very beautiful pictures Bob thanks for sharing.:)
    Looks like a helo ride over the grand canyon goes on my dream list!

    • Curtis

      Hmm
      Not sure why but when I add my blog url gravatar don’t show my photo.

  10. Gloria Brooks

    Wow! What an adventure, Bob! I’m glad you’re loving the Grand Canyon! I hope you’re still going to Sedona! I bet the Go Pro would be fabulous there! I think I’m going to put it on my to bye list! I love my Canon, but, I need something smaller for similar adventures. Good for you living your life to the fullest. I’m right behind you!

    • Bob

      Thanks Gloria. One of these days all your hard work is going to pay off and you can get whatever you want! Keep plugging away at it and you will get there!
      Bob

  11. Steve N Zeke "Da Mountain Dog"

    Grand adventure indeed, and the price was lower than i would have thought for the great seat and views that were presented… there is just some thing about helicopter rides that just excites the little boy in me…
    Now the white water with the GoPro is going to be superb and the pictures of the scenery will probable be breath taking…

    • Bob

      Thanks Steve! It was my first time on a chopper and it was an odd sensation but the little boy in me loved it too!!!!
      You know you are always welcome to come along to Colorado and utah with me. I’m going to Ridgeway CO to do a Jeep trip over the mountain passes there and with Forest and Beth (and their chocolate Lab in the Sprinter) then to Moab to do whitewater rafting. The trip is 930 miles at its shortest and figuring 10 mpg it will cost around $300 in gas. I may go on to see the other 5 National Parks in Utah but you can go back to Flagstaff to save money. Nothing would make me happier than to have you and Zeke join me.

      • Steve N Zeke "Da Mountain Dog"

        Sounds like a hoot, but after the money hits for tires, controller and the like I have to stay serious about my budget and savings…
        going back up to WA. for the spring and summer of 2015, visit all my haunts,hidden camp sites and the family thing… Think about it…

        • Bob

          Steve, I’ll keep that in mine. I’m still thinking about Alaska for next summer but they might work together.
          Bob

  12. Al Christensen

    One of the things that helped me get rid of stuff was the realization of how little of it I actually used day to day.
    Then, after getting rid of a lot of stuff and selling the house, I spent a few weeks at a friend’s place, sleeping in a 6×12 utility trailer with my stuff while I finished building out the van. I saw that I only used part of what I’d thought was important to have for this next phase of life. And once the van was finished, there were a few more things that wouldn’t fit.
    I had saved two 1TB hard drives full of important stuff. But after a few weeks I couldn’t remember what was on them. Guess they weren’t so important after all. Bye-bye.
    Now that I’ve been on the road for a couple of weeks, I’ve learned what I actually need day to day. Not much at all.

    • Bob

      Al, it sounds like you are on the right path and making great progress! You’re right, there is very little we actually NEED. But for must of us the WANTS are so powerful we can’t overcome them. It sounds like you are becoming a minimalist very easily while for most of us it is very difficult. I envy you that!
      Bob

  13. Bodhi

    I love sky tours! Thank you so much for sharing this with us.
    In Alaska, I flew a five passenger prop plane half way up Mt McKinley and we landed on the mountain next to it at a place called Mountain House. Spectacular!
    I also took a helicopter tour of Anchorage. The pilot said, “sight seeing or adventurer tour?” I asked him if he was generally happy… no depression… etc. He assured us that he was still loving life, so we said, “ADVENTURER!” He spun us and stalled the helicopter, he did a pendulum thing over Cook ‘s Inlet and huge chunks of ice and mud. We had so much fun.
    Thank you again for sharing your Grand Canyon Adventure with us.

    • Bob

      I’m planning a trip to Alaska next year and I will for sure add that to my itinerary!! I’ve been to Mckinley hundreds of times but never by air. That has to change!
      Bob

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