Expert Interview with Thames RIB Experience

theLast week we stopped by the Thames RIB Experience dock on Embankment Pier, where we got to meet some of the team and have a chat about the history of the company. We met the lovely lady working in the kiosk named Fiona who answered some questions for us on behalf of the team at the Thames RIB Experience.

Q1. How did Thames RIB start/ how was it founded?

Around 8 years ago by Dean and Charlotte who were in other professions at the time. Dean was an engineer and Charlotte was a mortgage adviser and then they came up with this brilliant idea. It was a struggle at first obviously, they had to start the business from their house. So, their home was their office. They then bought their first boat and originally only had a tiny little kiosk. You couldn’t get in it and it was very wind swept – the paper used to fly around everywhere! But the business took off from there and they bought a boat almost every year, developed the kiosk and opened  another one in Tower Bridge. The coats now are a lot warmer for customers as well so everyone is super warm.

Q2. What would you say sets you apart from other boat companies?

To be fair, I haven’t really done the other ones so I can only comment from ours but I think the service here is better. We aim to personally greet each and every customer and we offer the photos that, as far as I know, no one else does. We have microphones whereas one has a recording of a person describing the sights. Our seats are comfier and our boats are the only ones that have James Bond in with our tour. So you get James Bond music at high speed, the mention of James Bond as we filmed him in the film Spectre and chased him down the river. We have our famous wall (which leads nicely on to our next question…..)

Q3. Have you had any celebrities on board?

There have been lots of celebrities aboard the Thames RIB, including David Beckham and Victoria, which was when he did the Olympic torch. We’ve also had David Walliams, Richard Hammond, Zane Lowe, Susan Boyle, Ant & Dec and many, many more!

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Q4. What would you say is the best part of working here?

It’s the whole environment really and good rapport with the office. It’s mainly just myself in the winter, so I sometimes I have to occupy my time and talk to myself. But, I think it’s great all around, they really look after you and the idea that they have come up with makes it a really good environment to work in. It’s a small work place with few people so everyone really does get on well with each other. We all have nights out and staff parties which helps integrate each other and lets everyone get to know each other. I also love being on the boat, I think it’s absolutely glorious when I can sneak on!

Q5. What’s it like working in central London?  

It can be stressful sometimes, with all the hustle and bustle and having to get the tube to work every morning. Other than that I think it’s great and I’m not really an office person anyway so I really enjoy working outside. It also gets a lot busier and manic in the summer. The other services on the pier have a lot of people loading so it gets a bit busy but we all help each other out. So this is really calm, in the summer it can be chaos. We do a few rescues sometimes, if we’re the nearest boat to the incident. Like the time the docks caught on fire we were the nearest boat. So they got an Innovation Award for that. Customers that have had to go on the rescue haves come back and said that was an adventure!

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Q6. If you could advise your customers to do one thing what would it be?

I’d probably advise them to book the boat for New Years Eve! It is literally so amazing, I’ve done it for a few years now and sitting out on the Thames with the amazing buzzing atmosphere waiting for Big Ben to strike 12 is so great. You get some bubbly, chocolate and cakes on board and wait for the strikes. When the fireworks go off you’re just sat in the middle which is an amazing way to see all the lights and fireworks without standing between crowds of people!

Q7. Any plans for the future/anything you would like to add?

Just that Dean and Charlotte are really good and I really enjoy working for them! And apart from the occasional difficult customer, it’s a really nice environment to work in. Everyone is usually really happy and has a good time, it’s great to work here! And I just want to say thanks to Dean and Charlotte, they are always trying to think of new trips and expansion ideas. Watch out for Father Christmas on the boats as well!

We would like to thank Fiona and Thames RIB Experience for taking the time to answer some questions and we hope you have enjoyed learning a little more about the company!

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Emirates Arsenal Football Stadium Tour

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People aren’t wrong when they say that the atmosphere at a football stadium makes for a truly unique experience! Even though it wasn’t a match day and there were few people there, it was incredible – so you can only imagine what it would be like on a match day. We were lucky enough to get complimentary passes for the self-guided audio tour, which, as neither of us had been inside a football stadium before, we were rather excited about.

We started our day by catching the Piccadilly line from Kings Cross St. Pancras, which took us all the way to Arsenal station. We hopped off the tube and followed the sign to the Emirates Stadium, which was an easy five-minute walk from the station. Once we got to the stadium we were amazed by its vast size and atmosphere, with the sun shining and clear blue skies, we were excited to get going! Once we had explored the outside of the building, we followed the signs to the Armoury Store, which is where the tour was due to start.

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Upon arrival, we were met by the team who gave us our own set of Arsenal headphones (to keep!) and a small portable media player. Once we were clued up on how to use them, we were off! Each area in the stadium had a clearly displayed number, and this number matched up to the chapter on the media player, so everywhere we went we had running commentary about what we were seeing and various interesting facts about each room and what sorts of things go on during the football season.

This was a great way to be toured and highly efficient as we could go at our own pace and pause, play and rewind whenever we needed to. There is also no time cap for the tour, so we could spend however long we wanted in each section and go back if we needed to!  The first part of the tour took us to the Restaurant and Bar, which had access to the VIP spectators box on the side of the pitch. We then continued the tour and followed the numbers all the way through to the Directors Box, Home and Away Changing Rooms, Players Tunnel, pitch-side, Trophy room and Press Conference Room. On the way to each room, there were various statues and memorabilia which the audio would explain more about as we made our way around.

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Our favourite sections were definitely the Players Tunnel, as we got to see what the players see as they walk out on to the pitch. The Pitch was also magnificent, even though we didn’t get the chance to walk all the way around, it was still amazing to be on pitch level and sitting in the managers’ seats! Did you know that the manager decides on match day whether the players get to wear long or short sleeves? And everyone on the team has to match each other, so their uniform is always the same!

We finished our tour stocked up on knowledge about the widely loved Arsenal Football Team and all its players, and buzzing with everything we had just seen and learnt. This was a truly unique experience and we would highly recommend going (especially on a sunny afternoon), even if you’re not a massive football fan! Tickets also include entry to the museum, which is by the Armoury Store, which gives a more historical context to Arsenal players, fans and the Emirates Stadium.

We woud like to say a massive thank you to the team at Arsenal and letting us come and meet them and enjoy this fantastic London day out.

 

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Staff Review: Hidden London Experience with Fun London Tours

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The bustling city of London is notorious for its skyline, featuring such landmarks as The Shard, London Eye, Somerset House and many more. But, I bet you’ve never explored its hidden streets, tucked away pubs or ghost stories of the past. Well, recently Leoni and I were invited to take part in an experience that would give us a different perspective of the city and learn a thing or two about its intriguing history.

First agenda of the day was meeting our bubbly tour guide, Jess, outside Temple Tube Station. He was easy to spot with his bright blue tour jacket and matching flag (great when you’re making your way through the crowds of London), then we set off towards out first stop.

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Our first stop was on Strand Lane, outside some baths believed to be from the Roman era. However, this has been disputed over the years. It’s hard to think they are Roman Baths as the area of London the Romans invaded was actually miles away… suspicious. Turns out, they were branded as Roman Baths as an advertising gimmick and were actually a portion of a cistern built in 1612 to feed a fountain nearby, oops!

We moved onto our next stop which was an abandoned underground station. Jess filled us in on stories of how the underground was used in the war as a bomb shelter and they’d play live music to entertain people throughout the raids. We don’t want to ruin all the stops on the tour before you go out and enjoy it for yourselves, so we’ll move on to the last stop…..

Jess’ story begins on Fleet Street about a particularly infamous barber you may have heard of – Sweeney Todd. The ‘demon barber’ would entice customers in for a haircut and shave; then slit their throats. The story gets worse as he would then give the bodies to Mrs Lovett for her pies in the shop next door. Whether this story is fiction or a true story, it’s up to you to decide!

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Thanks again to Fun London Tours and Jess for inviting us on the tour. We have certainly learnt about a different side to London! This tour is the ideal gift for a history fan, whether they are a London local or planning a trip to the city, you’ll be taken to hidden gems the city has to offer, rich with history and culture.

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Staff Review With Thames Rockets

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With the wind blowing in our hair, eyes streaming and feeling like sailors at sea, Leoni and I took part in our latest adventure –  a  high speed RIB ride on the Thames. Both being complete powerboat ‘newbies’, it was something we both were looking forward to. So, we left our office in Brighton and headed for London Waterloo to begin our experience.

The meeting point for the ride could not have been more central; just a 5 minute walk from Waterloo Station and located at the pier adjacent to the London Eye. We walked down the dock and could see the bright red RIB waiting in the river, ready for action. Dave, our enthusiastic host for the ride greeted us on the dock, helped us on board and provided a quick health and safety briefing. After putting our life jackets on (safety first!), we clambered on board and got our camera’s fitted. Leoni and I chose the back seats in the hope we would miss getting so wet (although luckily you remain a lot dryer than expected!)

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The RIB gently eased us into the adventure with a slow ride through the hub of the city – if it was up to the captain (minus the speed restriction) I’m sure he would have loved to put the boat to the test for the whole experience. We passed the iconic landmarks London is so famous for including The Shard, The Walkie Talkie and Somerset House. Once we had passed the police docks, Salty our captain for the day, put is hand on the throttle and the RIB jumped in speed from 12 to 35 knots. He also mastered quick turns and tight corners, making the boat bank to each side and leaving us feeling like we were on a roller-coaster!

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After our high speed hit on the Thames, we headed back towards the pier and Dave indulged us in some informative history about the riverbank and the surrounding buildings. He had some fun facts to share, including some of the TV productions the boats have worked with. From The Apprentice to Harry Potter & The Goblet of Fire, they’ve worked with them all. So, we even felt a bit like movie stars being in the boats!

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Thank you again Thames Rockets for letting us experience such an adventure! A RIB ride is one for the bucket list when you are next in London. You can see our selection of RIB rides here.

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Staff Review: Haunted Pub Tour With Lantern Ghost Tours

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We really got in the spirit of Halloween this week (mind the pun) and found ourselves on a Haunted Pub Tour in London with Lantern Ghost Tours! This was not only very fitting for the time of year, it was also an interesting and exciting way to spend an evening in London.

Our tour started at Temple Tube Station, which was only a few stops from London Victoria. When we arrived, our lovely tour guide Camelia was waiting for us with a ‘Haunted Pub Tour’ sign. We waited for the rest of the group and set off at around 7pm. It had become dark and slightly misty by then, which added to the effect! Our first stop was the ‘oldest steps of London’. These were built in the 1600s and at the time, were the only steps that led down to the bank of the river Thames. These steps were walked by hundreds of Londoners and as the population increased, helped spark the need to build more bridges over the Thames!

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First pub stop on the list was The George, known for its many celebrity regulars such as Charles Dickens and Samuel Johnson. The pub was founded in 1723 and was originally a ‘men only’ coffee house. Legend has it that this pub is haunted by the Laughing Cavalier, a 17th-century character that has had repeated sightings for centuries. The pub has also dedicated a specially brewed beer to the phantom, named after the Cavalier and only sold in The George.

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We continued on with the tour, stopping at various historical landmarks along the way, such as The City of London gates and the Royal Courts of Justice. The next stop on the agenda was The Old Bank of England pub, a beautiful building with a rich history behind it. We stopped outside to admire the building first and were told that this was where Sweeney Todd, ‘The Demon Barber of Fleet Street’, opened his original barber shop where he committed his first murder! The building was previously the first Bank of England and still has original artefacts from the First World War.

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After our second drink, we all gathered once again, and the tour continued down Fleet Street, past the oldest building in London, and the narrowest pub named ‘The Cock Tavern’. We walked through hidden squares, accessed by small alleyways you wouldn’t otherwise know were there, learning all the different facts and history of London’s haunted past. We were sad to see the tour coming to the end and our final stop was Ye Old Cheshire Cheese. This is one of the most famous pubs on Fleet Street, taken out by the great fire of London, and rebuilt in 1667. This pub is infamously known as being haunted by the ghost of a dog, which often appears when someone is in danger. With the Haunted Pub Tour finished, we made our way back to Temple station, which was a 10-minute walk from Ye Old Cheshire Cheese.

This was truly a once in a lifetime experience, and something we would highly recommend anyone to do at least once. We would like to say a massive thank you to Camelia, our tour guide for making the experience fun and interesting, and to Lantern Ghost Tours for inviting us along! The Haunted Pub Tour runs throughout the year and can be enjoyed on your own or as a group.

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One Hour Horse Riding Lesson with Ellenwhorne Equestrian Centre In Sussex

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Horse Riding is a timeless sport, much loved by many men and women across Britain, throughout the centuries. As much as horses are adored as family pets or used for work, horse riding is also a great way to exercise and keep fit. Leoni and I were hugely excited to be invited down to Ellenwhorne Equestrian Centre in East Sussex to take part in our own horse riding experience.

The Equestrian centre was located down a beautiful country lane near Hastings, with a picturesque scenery of green fields as we pulled into the stable car park. We walked round to reception and were met by the friendly and enthusiastic staff at the centre, including Casper the dog who gave us the warmest welcome! We were introduced to our instructor for our private lesson and set out to meet the lucky ponies we would be riding.

First of all we met BJ, a beautiful skewbald cob who Leoni would be riding. He was a ‘BFG’ of the horse world and was very friendly, we thought it’d be a good idea to get him on our side before we mounted. Next, we went and got our hats fitted with the instructor ensuring that these sat correctly on our heads and weren’t going to wobble all over the place. She then went off to get Badger, the horse I was going to be riding (well maybe more of a pony, he was a bit small but still adorable!)

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Our lesson was going to take place in the spacious indoor school and after mounting our steeds we set off around the track. Starting with the basics, our instructor ran through how to control, steer, stop and move forward on our horses. Learning it was one thing, but making our horses (who had a mind of their own) do it was a different story! We then learnt some steering exercises including figure of 8’s across the school and serpentine’s.

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Time to pick up the speed a bit now as we moved on to trotting. We had to master the rising trot so we were in rhythm with our horses. As I have some previous riding experience, I was allowed to canter around the school; Badger however took a bit more persuading to move his legs a little faster, bless him! We had a great private lesson, and the horses were just the teachers we needed to develop our riding skills. They definitely deserved a massive pat and some carrots in their dinners. The horses were then untacked and taken back to their stables.

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We want to say thank you again to Ellenwhorne Equestian Centre for letting us have so much fun and getting to meet some of your lovely horses! If you’ve always fancied a day playing ponies, you can purchase a one hour lesson here or a half day pony riding experience for the kids.

 

 

 

 

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Monster Truck Ride With Leisure Pursuits

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Last weekend we had the amazing opportunity to meet Grizzly – the 4.5 tonne, 7.5 litre V8 Chevrolet Monster truck! She has 5ft 5inch wheels and can crush cars, fly over mounds, climb steep hills and make great speed. Grizzly is a genuine retro American-born ’96 model Chevrolet Silverado, and can get up to 1700 horsepower when racing. We chose the passenger ride experience, but you can also learn how to drive Grizzly yourself and share the driving experience with others!

We set off from Brighton and drove to Blackland Farm in East Grinstead, which despite being in the country was surprisingly easy to find. Blackland Farm is a large activity centre site with several other activity centres in the same area. This gave it a friendly and exciting atmosphere.

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Leisure Pursuits’ meeting point was clearly sign posted and we made it down to the designated car park where we were met by one of the instructors, Daryll. He took us down to the site in a 4×4 Jeep through the forest. We didn’t drive for long but it was still a fun experience as the Jeep was very bumpy, and it got us even more excited for the Monster Truck! The site was a huge open field on one side of a small forest featuring a stationary bus, which contained a seating area and fresh tea which we were encouraged to help ourselves to.

Once everyone had arrived, we were taken through the different parts of the truck and were briefed on the history of how Grizzly got to the UK. Believe it or not, Grizzly has made appearances in several TV shows and adverts, including ‘Don’t Tell The Bride’, ‘The One Show’, ‘Top Gear’ and the recent ‘McDonalds’ advert. Once we knew more about this world famous American classic, it was time for the safety briefing. We were provided with helmets and shown into our seats. There were eight seats in the back of the truck and as a kind gesture I was lucky enough to sit in the front next to the driver!

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The rest of the group got in by climbing a tall ladder, showing off just how tall the truck was. Feeling a little nervous, and not knowing what to expect of the ride, we were off before we knew it! Tim (our driver) put his foot down and floored it – the monster truck raced over the huge hill and as the grass was wet we skidded here and there which made the whole experience even more exciting. Our adrenaline was pumping as we drove through ditches, over steep hills and in-between fields, making sharp turns left and right to give us that true ‘roller coaster’ style ride. The best bit was saved for last as we drove over two cars! Making our way back to our set off point, hearts still pounding and faces aching from smiling, we were so excited to have experienced such an amazing Monster Truck ride.

Huge thank you to Daryll and Leisure Pursuits for a fantastic day in the countryside, and to Grizzly for being such a lovable beast! There are plenty of monster truck experiences available, from drives to passenger rides to off-road combos, you’re guaranteed to find the ultimate grizzly gift that’ll never be forgotten.

 

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Halloween Giveaway! How Many Legs In The Lanterns?

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With Halloween looming, it’s time for our annual spooky giveaway! We are giving away a £100 AND $100 Experience Days gift voucher to celebrate this Halloween! Enter if you dare…

To enter this competition, simply comment on our Facebook post with how many spider legs you think you can see in the picture. We will choose one winner in the US and one in the UK with whoever guesses the right number of legs. If the correct answer is not guessed, the entrant with the closest guess will be made the winner. If more than one entrant chooses the correct answer, the winner will be selected at random from the successful answers.

The prizes are a £100 or $100 open Experience Days gift voucher which can be redeemed for one of many experiences on our relevant UK or US websites.

To enter:

  1. Like our Facebook page
  2. Comment on the competition post with your guess for the number of legs in the image.
  3. Don’t forget to check your Facebook notifications on the 31st to find out if you’re one of the 2 lucky winners!

That’s it! You have now been entered into the competition and have the chance of winning one of the gift cards.

One UK and one US winner will be revealed on the 31st of October at approximately 4pm GMT and 11am EST.

Good luck!

P.S We said legs…think about it!

US: www.experiencedays.com

UK: www.experiencedays.co.uk

*This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed, administered by, or associated with, Facebook. The prize gift vouchers comply with Experience Days Terms & Conditions.

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Must See Attractions: HM Tower of London

the-tower-of-londonAs someone who regularly visits the capital and has experienced their fair share of ‘must do’ attractions, it is a wonder that I have never actually been to HM Tower of London until now – this is certainly a mistake on my part!

Arriving towards the end of a Thursday afternoon, I decided to join the last Yeoman Warder guided tour of the Tower (starting at 15:30 inside the main entrance) to gain some insight. I cannot recommend the tour highly enough…our Warder, Clive was brilliant – highly knowledgeable, enthusiastic and entertaining. The group included a wide range of visitors; young and old, local and international, but the tour seemed to cater for all needs. We gained a snapshot of the Tower’s history, including some little-known facts about some of England’s most famous Kings and Queens and other interesting characters in the Palace’s time-line, as well a few of the more ‘gory’ stories of torture and execution. By the end of the guided tour, we were positioned nicely to be able to explore the separate components of the Tower, at our own leisure.

…And you needn’t be a history ‘buff’ to enjoy your visit to the Tower of London – it is well-known that the Crown Jewels are securely housed here, but the exhibit is truly magnificent and certainly an important feature not to be missed. I’d personally recommend allowing around 15-20 minutes to take it all in…maybe a little longer if you have an eye for diamonds and jewels!

Other top attractions include:
The White Tower, Bloody Tower, Royal Beasts, and Chapel Royal of St Peter ad Vincula

During my visit, I was a little pushed for time, having just over 2 hours to explore the Tower, so would recommend allowing at least 3 hours (especially during peak times) to fully enjoy all that this incredible Royal Palace has to offer.

An absolutely fantastic day out, HM Tower of London should be high on anyone’s London ‘to do’ list and is a great experience to share with family or a group of friends.

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Expert Interview With HeliAdventures

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We have always had a close relationship with Heli Adventures, and this week we had the privilege of interviewing Gemma Heynes on all things airborne. For a first-hand insight into the world of helicopter flying, read on…

Q1. Hi Gemma! So to kick things off, how was HeliAdventures founded?
HeliAdventures provides helicopter tours from a plethora of locations and is part of a long established Helicopter Company based at Cotswold Airport in Gloucestershire. Further services from this multifaceted company include helicopter charters and professional helicopter training.

HeliAdventures was started out of the passion of two pilots who wanted to be able to share their passion and make available to others the experience of helicopter flights. The cost of helicopters make it prohibitively expensive to many, but by setting up HeliAdventures and selling sightseeing tours by the seat we hoped to open up the opportunity to many others to enjoy.

Q2. How do you think HeliAdventures stands out from other helicopter companies?
Not only do we operate all our own events, we always use our own pilots, our own helicopters and operate under our own Air Operators Certificate (AOC), allowing us to provide seamless customer service throughout the booking process and the experience itself. Unlike a majority of UK sightseeing flight operators, we use immaculately presented Airbus Helicopters AS350 aircraft which provides great visibility for all passengers in a much more modern and spacious cabin compared with the Jet Ranger used by most others. Our pilots are very familiar with the specific areas within which our range of helicopter flights and tours are conducted, and they have worked to put together routes that will give you the very best in excitement and spectacle.

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Q3. What is your favourite part of running HeliAdventures?
Seeing the joy on customers faces after their flight when, in many cases, they have just realised a life long dream.

Q4. Tell us more about your story and HeliAdventures’ success..
HeliAdventures has grown over the years to become one of the largest UK pleasure flight operators to cover multiple locations throughout the South West and Midlands. Keep an eye out …more of the UK to be added soon! As well as this our training division has been able to satisfy the dreams of many people of becoming a pilot whose initial introduction to helicopters was a pleasure flight with HeliAdventures.

We flew 450 sightseeing tour in 2015, which equates to more than 2,000 passengers and of those 2,000 passengers over 90% rate us 4-5 out of 5 and say they would recommend us to others. We are aiming for 100% in 2016!

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Q5. If you could tell every customer one thing, what would you share with them?
“ YOLO ” …. so make the most of it. Come and have fun with us!

Q6. Is there anything else you’d like to add/ mention?
If there is anything you want to know about helicopters do ask – we love talking helicopters!

Huge thanks to Gemma for chatting with us, we hope you’ve enjoyed a little insight into Heli and it’s team! Helicopter rides are great ways to see the ground beneath you from great heights, and there are plenty of locations across the country so everyone can have the perfect experience. Enjoy!

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