The beautiful blemish of the Earth, Mt Pinatubo, has constantly been an impressive sight to behold. It’s hard to imagine that the destructive power of this stratovolcano has transformed its surrounding area into a magnificent alien landscape that’s constantly changing and molding. I have been to Mt Pinatubo many times already on land and have appreciated its sandy trails and oscillating cliff walls. Recently I had the fortunate chance to take a helicopter tour of this famed volcano. The Mt Pinatubo Aerial Tour was offered by ArchipelagoPH as I accompany their photo contest three winners and document their winning flight. It was also my first time to ride a helicopter so it was an opportunity that’s too hard to pass.
Mt Pinatubo Aerial Tour
I met up with the rest of the passengers at the AAOP Hangar 2 Manila Domestic Airport. The three talented photo contest winners, William Clemente, Rey Carinungan and Hannah Cepe arrived and were excited waited for our flight. The Mt Pinatubo Aerial Tour is operated by PhilJets. While waiting for our chopper to arrive, we lingered at their hangar and feasted on the handsome EC130 T2 chopper parked at the hangar. It is the same model we’ll fly into which got us more excited. Finally past lunchtime we were cleared to fly.
Flying Low to the Crater
The thrill of flight elevated as we took off vertically from the ground. The city seemed like little blocks of lego from the air. We were flying low, somewhere between 400–500 meters high. My companions were shooting in frenzy on both directions – the view and themselves. Who could blame them, it’s not everyday we could ride a chopper. I marvelled at the patterns below, from roads and rivers winding through the city and patches of fields and concrete lands. I try to make out landmarks I could recognize just to figure out where we were exactly.
It was amazing to see the transitions from the patches of towns and cities to the rugged peaks and undulating hills coming towards Mt Pinatubo crater. From the barren landscape it once was after the eruption, nature has already found its way to turn itself back in its verdant state. The greens were abruptly interrupted by the fragile gray cliffs of rocks and ashes as we got close to the mouth of crater. We hovered over the crater, circling around maybe up to 4 times. I was to excited to count. Suddenly I knew how it felt like to be a drone. Flying low and close to the peaks, swooping down and making sharp turns around the bend. It was exhilarating. As much as we want to do more rounds we found ourselves on our way back. The clicking (still on both directions) didin’t stop (yes even as we had landed). The whole tour lasted over an hour but it was an exciting hour worth remembering.
Philjets offers Mt Pinatubo Helicopter Tours.
The Discovery Mt Pinatubo is Php 83,253 for 3 pax. Flight duration is 1 hour and 40 minutes in a R44 Helicopter. Includes 2 cycles over Mt Pinatubo in 10 minutes.
The Pinatubo Aerial Tour is Php 133,653 for 6pax. Flight duration is 1 hour and 25 minutes in a Brand New EC130 T2. Includes 2 cycles around Mt PInatubo. Includes onboard GoPro Camera and iPad. Bose® Noise-cancelation headsets.
PhilJets Aero Services Inc
AAOP Hangar 2,
Manila Domestic Airport
Domestic Road Corner MIAA Road
Pasay City, 1300
Metro Manila, Philippines
Tel: (+632) 851 0639
Hotline: (+63) 998 974 0497 / 998 843 5956
Fax: (+632) 851 0248
Email: [email protected], [email protected]hiljets.com
Many thanks to Archipelago.com.ph/InFlight Mag for the flight.
Ferdz Decena is an award-winning travel photographer, writer and blogger. His works has found print in publications such as Singapore Airlines’s Silver Kris, Philippine Airlines’ Mabuhay, Cebu Pacific’s Smile and Seair InFlight. He has also lent his expertise to various organizations like the Oceana Philippines, Lopez Group Foundation, Save the Children and World Vision, contributing quality images for their marketing materials.