Learn more about who you’re flying with!
Meet your pilot: Lorenzo Lamas, Hollywood actor with a passion for flying. Lamas picked up flying in the 90s as a way to spend more time with his three children who lived in Arizona. For years he flew back and forth between Los Angeles and Arizona, now he is an on demand charter pilot for HeliNY who loves giving tours of NYC. We asked him to share a little bit about himself and his experience as a HeliNY pilot.
Q: What’s the coolest part about your job?
A: It’s just great to put smiles on people’s faces. I used to fly tours in the Grand Canyon and Los Angeles, so, it’s a series of being able to share these wonderful sites with people up in a helicopter. People who have never been in one before and you really haven’t seen a city until you’ve seen it from a helicopter.
Q: Do you have to know a lot about the history of NYC?
A: Yeah, you have to do your research. When you get hired at HeliNY they teach you the tour routes but it’s really up to each individual pilot to learn as much about the history of the city and the sights that they’re seeing so you can make it a really enjoyable experience. The first two weeks I started giving tours, I would rehearse with my family at the dinner table. “Did you know, Carol, that the French gave us the Statue of Liberty you in 1886?”
Q: What’s your favorite NYC landmark?
A: No question, the Lady! I love flying by the Statue of Liberty, not just because it’s an amazing sculpture, but because it represents a time in our country when people would come across the ocean and see that symbol of freedom and democracy that was the first thing they would see. It tends to hit the soft spot of your heart.
Q: Did you know that when you first started flying that it was going to be something more than a hobby?
A: If you would’ve told me 20 years ago that I wouldn’t be acting anymore, but that I would be flying commercial helicopters over Manhattan…I would’ve told you you were crazy. But life sometimes takes different turns and opportunities come up. You’ve got to make your way somehow and continue to grow as a person and provide as a father for your kids.
Q: Do people ever recognize you as an actor during tours?
A: I used to, more in the Grand Canyon, because I was giving picnic tours and spending almost two hours time with the passengers. But here in New York it’s different. Passengers are getting into a running helicopter. Blades are spinning. It’s noisy, chaotic. They get in the helicopter and boom, we take off. So there really isn’t time.
Q: What is your favorite part about working at HeliNY?
A: I think the most important thing is the people you work for in a company. Because you could have great equipment, which we do, but it really is about the personality and the people. I think this really is an amazing group of staff, we’re all a family. And that’s so rare in this world to find a company that you actually like to hang out with, even when you’re not working. We have barbecues on Fridays…and I feel blessed to be working for the company.
Q: Do you have any advice for people who want to get into flying?
A: It’s like learning a language, full immersion is always the best. If you can afford to fly 3 to 4 days a week and invest an hour to two hours of bookwork every night, you can probably get a private license in 6 months. But you have to treat it like a school, like a bachelor’s degree. You really have to put the time into it. I started flying because of my children and once I started flying airplanes it just became my passion. Now that I’m a career pilot, it’s still a passion for me. I don’t even feel like I’m going to work.
Keep checking our blog posts in the coming months as we feature more of the HeliNY team so you can learn more about how we operate both in the sky and on the ground!
Interested in a NYC helicopter tour? View our tours here