My first helicopter ride happened a few days before Valentine’s Day and in the company of dating couples. The Euro Chopper, which can carry six people including the pilot and in other days is used for traffic reporting, waited at the rooftop of the Hotel InterContinental Manila for the excited passengers.
Being in the chopper was like being inside a glass bubble that floated over the city. The "back seat" was elevated so that passengers had the same view as those in front. The takeoff gave us a rush of feeling -- a mix of nervousness, anticipation, excitement and elation. The city revealed it, bathed in the late afternoon sun, like never before.
From the take-off point in Makati, we passed by buildings and surveyed the highway and the flyovers of Edsa. It was disorienting at first, trying to figure out the place. We saw the expanse of green we thought there wasn’t and an urban sprawl bigger than we had imagined. The huge block of SM Megamall was not that huge after all, facing now an expanse of green that was the Wack Wack golf course. Couples in the helicopter might have a Superman moment, where Superman takes Lois Lane for a ride over New York City at night, and before she knows it, she has fallen in love.
For five years now, Trapik.com, the traffic information provider, and Flowers Express, the on-line flower provider, together other partner companies, have been creating these Superman moments with their "Date in the Sky" gimmick, which they created to veer away from the usual Valentine ritual. They take couples for an eight- to 10-minute helicopter ride over Metro Manila and a poolside dinner afterwards. Very neat. Imaginative and unusual, the concept, however, is not altogether new. A great romantic moment seems to require a grand and awe-inspiring view. It seems that the feeling inside must manifest in the physical world. The feeling requires it to be beautiful.
The chopper flight provides the opportunity not only to fall in love with a partner, but also to fall in love with the city we move and love in. The chopper flight is a manifestation that love is something like flight.
(The Daily Tribune, February 14, 2007)