Soaring Above Los Angeles – Celebrity Helicopter Tours

Soaring above the congested traffic amidst the Los Angeles skyscrapers was an exhilarating experience made possible by Celebrity Helicopter Tours. The VIP Grand Tour covered all the destinations I wanted to see in the LA area. With a little bit of beach, Beverly Hills, Hollywood, and the heart of downtown, this thrilling tour featured an exciting jaunt around LA. With a bird’s eye view of one of the most amazing metropolis cities in the US, Chief Pilot Robin Petgrave gave us an extravagant helicopter tour.

Surprisingly enough, though, the helicopter flight and all of the beauty that unfolded before my very eyes was not the most eye-opening experience of my day. It was before, during, and after my flight that I learned about the remarkable journey and overwhelming accomplishments of the pilot, Robin Petgrave. He is a true inspiration with an extraordinary ability to reach and motivate children. Robin donates most of the profits from Celebrity Helicopter Tours to Tomorrow’s Aeronautical Museum (T.A.M.), one of the only interactive aviation museums in the United States that offers hands-on involvement with its static displays, virtual reality aircraft simulators, and youth programs. Another one of his projects is Positive Vibrations where he lands his helicopter on school grounds and delivers motivational speeches for students. He has transferred his entrepreneurial success  to the public sector to empower and encourage youth; he’s the Erin Gruwell, Freedom Writers, of aviation.

Because Robin loves flying so much, it is a gift he would like to give to potential pilots. T.A.M. is a non-profit organization that gives Robin the ability to realize this gift. In one of the most violent cities in America, Compton, CA, the museum has established an Aviation Explorers program that encourages interest in the field of aviation by providing scholarships and allowing at-risk youth to learn to fly. Students are given the responsibilities of caring for the community by washing aircrafts, up-keeping the airport, maintaining the facility, setting up computer labs at local schools, and volunteering for flight training credits. It provides a place for kids to go after school so they stay off the streets, mentoring for those that really need it, and allowing them to reach new heights through actual flight time.

As my husband and I entered the facility, I noticed several young men in uniforms keeping themselves busy with the general running of Celebrity Helicopter Tours. A well-dressed young man, about 17 years old, introduced himself and asked if we needed assistance. When we told him that we had an appointment at 4:30, he showed us to a waiting area and told us that someone would be with us shortly. Another young man, showed us to our first flight, Sightseers Dream, that was piloted by a former student of Robin Petgrave. His friendly attitude and professional manner made us feel like we were royalty being escorted by a seasoned chauffeur.  The relaxing, 25-minute smooth flight consisted of a breathtaking narrated aerial view of some of the most beautiful cities by world famous beaches & landmarks. Sightseer’s Dream focused on the “South Bay” or rather the “Peninsula” of Los Angeles, a hidden gem and definitely a destination not many tourists get to see while visiting. The pilot, Brian Monette, earned his Commercial Pilot Licence by working toward flight credits at Celebrity Helicopter Tours. He works at T.A.M. to help the students who are following in his footsteps, and he is pursuing his CFI Certificate. He serves as just one example of the difference Robin has made in the community.

Robin reaches out to local schools by visiting the school, landing with his helicopter to elevate the excitement and attention of both students and teachers through his Positive Vibrations program. Positive Vibrations is a unique youth mentoring program that utilizes positive and constructive initiatives to teach and assist parents and teachers to motivate and inspire youth. Robin is able to connect with the students on their level as he speaks about serious and adverse affects of the real world such as the gangs and other dangers on their streets. He’s not just another voice in the crowd because he grew up on the same streets and dealt with the same pressures. He teaches kids how to aim really high and by taking kids under his wing, he’s giving them a pair of their own.

Thanks to one man’s vision, Celebrity Helicopter Tours is far more than a helicopter tour company. It’s a place for young people to hold on to their dreams. I witnessed first-hand the work and accomplishments happening at Celebrity Helicopter Tours. The airport grounds were buzzing with local teens working hard at something they love while earning flight time.

I would have assumed that after such great accomplishments and contributions, that some of the fame and recognition would have gone to Robin’s head, making him pretentious and reserved, but as we embarked on our second flight, The VIP Grand Helicopter Tour, I experienced his warm, laid-back, positive attitude that brought out happiness and ease. During the 55-minute flight, we covered a wide enough range of grater LA to complete all the sites I’d longed to see. I truly felt like a real VIP as we weaved through LA’s skyscrapers and celebrity homes. Robin narrated the flight and pointed out several famous landmarks. When he wasn’t acting as tour guide, he was happily singing and telling jokes. He’s impulsive, free-spirited, and a big kid at heart.

There are people out there who truly make a difference in other’s lives and Robin Petgrave is one of them. His vision and implementation expands beyond the inspirational messages and hype to a level that creates exposure, opportunity, and support for young people to develop their own dreams. I was honored to sit next to him as I explored Los Angeles from a new perspective.

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76 thoughts on “Soaring Above Los Angeles – Celebrity Helicopter Tours

  1. What a great post. I know LA well, having lived there for years. And I think the fact that you found such a wonderful connection in Celebrity is great. I wonder if he knows about Inner City Arts…a charity that helps kids in LA ? I think they might like to connect. They seem very complimentary.

    Like

    • I was blessed to find such a great tour company and I encourage others to soar over LA with Celebrity Helicopter Tour, especially knowing that the money is used for a great cause.

      Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment; it’s appreciated.

      Lesley

      Like

  2. Wow, great story and images Lesley!! I went to LA about 10 years ago very briefly and now want to go back and do the helicopter tour too. I have always wanted to take a tour while in Vegas but no one else wanted to come along, now I am going to venture out on my own and love it. Thanks for the inspiration.

    Like

    • I’ll be doing the Grand Canyon Flight from Vegas with Papillon Airways – Papillon.com – in November. I’ve yet to see the Grand Canyon and it seems like a spectacular way to enjoy the sights along the way and experience the “grand” finally at the end.

      I hope that you experience a helicopter tour, regardless of the location. It certainly provides a unique perspective. Have you ever been in a helicopter before?

      Thanks for reading,

      Lesley

      Like

      • Lesley~

        When you do the Grand Canyon, you’ve GOT to visit Sedona, AZ, home of the red rocks. I live in Phoenix so we go there frequently…it’s breathtaking. I know November will be cold, but there’s no place like Sedona on Earth. If you get the chance, stay the night, visit the shops, get a psychic reading, and do some hiking.

        Like

    • It was only my desire to see LA from above that led me to Robin. His contributions to society are enough alone to make me want to return to Celebrity Helicopter Tours.

      Have you ever been in a helicopter before? The initial take off can be a little intimidating but the views are well worth it.

      Thanks for reading,

      Lesley

      Like

  3. Really interesting post, Lesley. An aerial “walk”, a amazing man and a positive tool in the Freedom Writers. Some day i’ll take land in yours great country.

    Like

    • Great blog. I love the “Surf” section.

      Hopefully you’ll make it to this side of the world someday. Have you ever been in North America?

      Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment; it’s appreciated.

      Lesley

      Like

    • It was beautiful and we touched down on the tallest skyscraper in LA; what a day!

      Have you ever been in a helicopter before?

      Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment; it’s appreciated.

      Lesley

      Like

  4. Hi,
    A fun and fascinating way to see the sights, you certainly would get a different perspective of everything from a helicopter, looks like you had a great time, and I love the photos.

    Like

    • Soaring through the tallest buildings in Los Angeles was amazing! Robin’s ease and control of the helicopter was beyond words. I love being in the sky!

      Have you ever been in a helicopter before?

      Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment; it’s appreciated.

      Lesley

      Like

    • We thought about living in any place in the world and chose southern California as our home. It is my favorite place in the world. I only wish I had my family here with me.

      Where do you live now? What are you studying in college? I was an English teacher for 8 years.

      Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment; it’s appreciated.

      Lesley

      Like

      • I’m from Philadelphia, PA but I attend Howard University in Washington, DC. I’m studying Journalism with a concentration in Print/Online and I think I may minor in Photography, thanks to blogs such as this. And your welcome for reading, thank you for taking a look at my site as well, hope you liked the content.

        Like

        • Good luck with your studies. I loved being in university. My first degree is in Advanced English with a minor in History; then I took a Bachelor of Education degree followed my a Masters in Literacy. After 7 years of university, I almost didn’t know how to be away from studying.

          Like

  5. Been reading your blog for a few days now. Just wanted to say you are awesome. Seeing you do all this awesome stuff inspires me to do (and keep doing) all the things/adventures I do. Keep it up! Thanks.

    Like

    • As an English teacher, I love Atticus Finch 🙂

      Thanks for the positive words and I hope that you continue your adventures. Do you have a bucket list? Or maybe a list of things you’d like to accomplish? I find it always gives me a direction and something to aspire to.

      Thanks for reading,

      Lesley

      Like

      • I do have a “living” bucket list and I am working through it all the time. Sometimes I think I get as much enjoyment from crossing an item off the list as I do actually participating in the event. It’s very satisfying…

        Like

    • We live in Orange County, but surprisingly enough, don’t travel to LA very often. The consistent over-flow of traffic usually keeps us away, but with an opportunity to see LA and avoid the traffic was a dream come true. We soared through skyscrapers and watched the busy 5 o’clock rush below.

      Are you from California? We moved here one year ago, almost to the date, and we’ve loved every second of it.

      Thanks for reading,

      Lesley

      Like

  6. Awesome story and great photos. My five-year-old wanted to go on a helicopter ride for his birthday and I went with Celebrity Helicopters because of their excellent prices. Robin was awesome and we had a great flight. My son wanted to fly over Long Beach and see the Queen Mary.

    But the best part for me was when we went inside and got a tour of the facilities by a Tuskegee Airman. Nothing like a little bit of living history before zooming over Long Beach at 150 mph. The work Robin is doing in the community there deserves attention, so thank you for posting this.

    Like

    • They have great prices and even better service. After learning about what Robin is doing for the community and beyond, I felt honored to fly with him.

      Thanks for reading and recognizing an amazing man!

      Lesley

      Like

  7. first I want to say thank you for liking my blog on wordpress and second I see you are a woman of travel…Enjoy the life my friend..

    Like

  8. What a great story! It’s amazing when someone believes in kids and gives them a chance, which results in improving their lives in the long run. Often that positive outlet for the kids makes such a huge difference in their future.
    I read in the above comments that you graduated in education. I did as well, only mine was elementary education. Do you miss teaching? I taught for several years and then went into the world of business. I enjoyed the change of scenery!
    I went on a helicopter tour in Hawaii, and it was amazing! We got to see such beautiful scenery such as the ocean, beaches, waterfalls, and lots of vegetation. I’ll always remember the pilot, as he flew barefoot and had such a dynamic personality.

    Like

    • I do miss teaching a great deal, but I’ve decided to take some time away to start a family. Teaching has always been my life’s dream. Since I was in middle school, it was all that I ever wanted to do, but having my own children and teaching them is a greater joy than I ever thought imaginable. I can’t wait until I can see new places, explore new cultures, and have new adventures with my baby girl and my husband.

      Thank for you reading and taking the time to comment; it’s appreciated.

      Lesley

      Like

  9. Traveling over LA in a helicopter is definitely the way to go. If only you could always travel that way & avoid all of the traffic! Before moving to Tokyo, I lived in LA. Your blog brings back good memories of the awesome weather and blue skies! Thanks for checking out my blog 🙂

    Like

  10. What an awesome article. Great writing and nice pictures. You have done some really cool things. Very impressive. Time to get out here to Colorado and have some extreme adventures.
    🙂
    Keep up the good work.

    Like

  11. Love the post! I’m in South Africa now but lived in Laguna Beach for 2 years and worked for a company called (then) CalActive, now Kijubi,com and did so many of the things you are writing about, including that helicopter tour – mindblowing! Will upload some pics to my blog soon as I just have them on my Facebook page at the moment. Small world! Keep up the exciting work and the great blog.

    Like

    • When I learned of what Robin was doing for the community, I was honored to sit next to him. He is making a difference!

      Thanks for taking the time to read about my adventure with him and others.

      Lesley

      Like

  12. Wow, Lesley…I gotta say I’m honored that you took the time to read my blog last night. Your life is nothing short of amazing–you really do the things most of us only dream about. I commend you! And now I follow you, blog-style, because you’re oh-so intriguing. Congrats on the baby, yo! One more life adventure I won’t have…I’m a crazy cat lady, but proud of it. My husband and I have 7!

    Like

  13. I’ve learned that the most important thing about blogging is finding an audience so I take time each day to read other blogs and “like” the ones that stand out to me.

    Travel and adventure have shaped my character as much as family and friends. I’m constantly looking for the next new thing so if you have any suggestions in mind, let me know.

    I prefer cats to dog, although I don’t have any pets currently. They can be great companions and bring comfort and joy into our lives.

    Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment; it’s appreciated,

    Lesley

    Like

    • We’re quite the homebodies in our house, but do read my other comment about Sedona AZ as part of your Grand Canyon trip–people visit from all over the world just because of Sedona’s striking beauty. If you do Sedona, let me know if you need recommendations on a place to stay or where to eat.

      My big adventure is that we just got cat #7 on Sunday afternoon. He’s a polydactyl with extra toes on each paw–pretty groovy!

      Like

  14. This was great and touching! next time I’m in LA I might take advantage of it! and thank you for liking my post! As you know it can make your day to see that someone taking the time to encourage other bloggers!

    Like

    • Robin’s skills are amazing and his donation to such a great organization is payback enough. The next time your in LA, you should give it a try.

      Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment; it’s appreciated.

      Lesley

      Like

  15. HI Lesley,

    Well it’s always exciting to meet a fellow globe-trotter on wordpress! I’ve been living abroad since 2006 and loving every minute of it. Funnily enough, when I go home to visit family, I always end up in California and helicopters are usually a part of my visit…..
    More on that later though. Flying over LA is a wonderul experience, that’s for sure!
    I’m glad our blogs found each other, because I will definitely be back to read up on your adventures.
    Congrats on the little one 🙂

    Like

  16. I loved flying in helicopters when I was in the Air Force. Always great fun. So I appreciate this story all the more. As for inspiration, I worked with a man who had been involved in youth work for over 60years. He still came to the clubs, played chess and card games with the kids of all ages.

    One evening discussing the behaviour of some who had been a little unruly, he merely said of our concerns about one child, they are only lost when we give up on them. I carry that advice with me whenever I deal with youngsters today. It will always be true.

    Jim

    Like

  17. You truly are living the dream, young lady! Your kindness is going to serve you well throughout your journey across the world – and the vast, ever-changing landscape that is motherhood!

    Like

  18. What an inspirational story and you thought you were just going for a helicopter ride 🙂 It’s wonderful to know there are people out there like him. We need more people like that and it would be amazing to see how that would affect the world we live in in such a positive way. Thanks so much for sharing this post! Glad you had a great time and met a wonderful person in the process.

    Like

  19. If you had only taken the time to really dig into the truth behind this guy, your story would have been much different! How many children he has scammed out of dreams, the unpaid operators he has dealt with, the bridges he has burned, the works who have gone unpaid! The total scams!

    Like

    • I’m glad that if there is another side to the story, I have the opportunity to research a little more. Thanks for commenting and I’m going to dig a little deeper this week to see what I can come up with.

      🙂

      Like

  20. Pingback: Into the Wind – Engine Free Flying in Southern California | Indulge – Travel, Adventure, & New Experiences

  21. Pingback: “The helicopter is evidence of how man’s imagination can be given physical form.” ~Wheeler, Howard A. | Indulge – Travel, Adventure, & New Experiences

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