We are all set for our Noosa helicopter tour but it looks like we’ve taken a wrong turn when we arrive at a gate on a dirt road with a ‘Private Property. No Parking and No Entry’ sign. “I’m sure this is the right place,” my wife insists, pointing to the Google map and display showing the Noosa Aerodrome. Hoping no one is going to ask us to go back the way we came, we notice the gate has been left open and drive down the road to arrive at some run-down buildings, and a shiny Robinson R44 waiting for us in the sunshine. So is Morgan, our cheerful helicopter pilot.
Welcome to Salt Air Aviation and Noosa’s only locally-based helicopter company flying out of the little known Noosa Aerodrome which is only a 10 minute drive from Hastings Street. As we take in the grass strip and the glistening waters of Lake Weyba behind the helicopter, Morgan tells us that the airport was once used by TAA in the 1980s before the land was sold and became a private landing strip. There are plans to restore the ‘run-down buildings’ which we discover are actually the historically significant original airport terminal and hangars to their former glory.
Salt Air Aviation is run by Morgan and Bel, a husband and wife team who are both experienced helicopter pilots and have big plans for their new helicopter company at Noosa. They met in the Northern Territory when they were both flying for different companies and have more than a dozen years in the air between them. Despite our slightly unorthodox arrival and surrounds, there’s no doubt we’re in capable hands despite the lack of fancy facilities at the historic airstrip.
Salt Air Aviation offers a range of tours from 10-minute flights that take in the highlights of Noosa Heads to big adventures that offer a full weekend getaway including winery visits and private cottage stays. Other tour options include winery and pub helitours and some truly romantic options for proposals and other special occasions like a ‘big birthday’.
We are taking a 30 Minute Scenic Flight today that takes in all the highlights of Noosa and the Sunshine Coast. As Morgan does the last pre-flight cheeks he asks us if we would like the doors off or on. We both shout “Off!!!” like we have won the Lotto. We have done flights with the doors off before and love the unobstructed views and extra thrill. Next is our safety briefing and we jump in.
Morgan warms up the Robinson R44 and we hover to the edge of the runway for take-off before he throttles up and we are flying low over Lake Weyba on a stunning sunny morning. We couldn’t have asked for better weather and gain altitude then head south along the coast towards Coolum. The Sunshine Coast’s spectacular wetlands and national parks are a sea of green from the air then we cross the coast and take in the stunning coastline and shining Pacific Ocean.
It’s easy to take loads of videos and photos with the doors off as we head up the coast towards Noosa National Park and Noosa Beach. We are mesmerised by the amazing scenery as we pass over Noosa Heads and head inland to Cooroibah and onto Boreen Point. Morgan tells us that he regularly drops people for lunch at the historic hotel as part of a helicopter tour where he lands on the lawn. We’re soon over sparkling Lake Cootharaba just north of Noosa Heads and at our halfway point.
As we head down Rainbow Beach, Morgan tells us about all the amazing sights he sees like sting rays, small sharks and big schools of fish. We turn back over the main beach at Noosa to take in all of the famous beaches before turning over Alexandria Bay where we spot multiple pods of dolphins splashing happily as we circle overhead to take in the sight of about 20 jumping dolphins.
We head back over Sunshine Beach and are soon back flying over Lake Weyba and descending for a soft landing back at the Noosa Aerodrome where some more passengers are waiting to board. Morgan shuts down the helicopter and then takes a few photos of us with the helicopter before he prepares for the next tour. As we say hello to his next passengers, we rave about our tour and they tell us how excited they are as they’re doing the wine tour that heads out west for lunch at a winery and a scenic tour over Noosa before heading back to the aerodrome. The combination of incredible scenery and lively and interesting commentary make a Noosa helicopter tour with Salt Air Aviation a must-do on a trip to the Sunshine Coast. You’ll be talking about the amazing views and posting on social media for days.
Disclosure: The writers travelled with assistance from Tourism Noosa.
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