A beautiful Saturday morning provided the perfect setting for a helicopter tour of the Tucson area.
We chose to fly with Volare Helicopter, with the owner Ryan as our pilot. Having flown in airplanes hundreds of times this was my first ride in a helicopter, but Ryan made us feel at ease from the first moment.
After a few minutes explaining the sounds and feels of the 4 seat Robinson 44 helicopter, we were off.
The first noteworthy view was of the Casino del Sol, backed by the smaller hills in the middle of the shot, with the Santa Catalina’s filling the background.
Just a bit further east revealed this expansive view of the entire valley, with downtown Tucson looking quite small compared to the towering Catalina’s in the background.
The Asarco mine filled the view south. An early visit to this mine is detailed here. https://rdzphotographyblog.com/2023/01/25/sahuarita-arizona-january-2023-a-necessary-evil/
Black Mountain is a lava capped mesa on the San Xavier Reservation. While not visible here, the mountain top is home to ruins of an ancient Hohokam fortification.
The mountain is off limits to the public, so this view from above is the only way to see the saguaros growing out of the lava covered hillside.
The Tohono O’odham Nation owns the somewhat symmetrical Desert Diamond Casino. Clearly a light gambling crowd on this Saturday morning.
The Green Valley Pecan orchards extend as far as you can see to the south. The ponds in the foreground are at a concrete plant.
This simple view of the interstate running through the desert provides a great contrast of nature and development.
This is I 19, which runs 60 miles from Tucson to Nogales. It has for it’s entire existence, been the only interstate in the United States to use kilometers instead of miles for the exit numbers and mileage markers.
The Marriott Starr Pass Resort takes up a huge space at the base of the Tucson Mountains.
A couple of close ups of the mountains as we made our way back west.
The view from 1500′ above the ground shows the varied topography of the area – large expanses of flat desert areas, with some smaller mountains backed by the towering ‘sky islands’.
While this is the first in a series of aerial views of Tucson, our tour ended where it started, at Ryan Field on the far west end of town.