Furthermore, for most people, flying by helicopter is an experience in itself. It can't be compared with other methods of flying. It's very different - and just has to be experienced.
By Steffen Fog
I hear the jet engine begin to whine and shortly afterwards the rotor blades start to whirr. I sit with a boyish grin on my face, butterflies in my stomach and find it very difficult to sit still as my excitement reaches fever pitch.
The pilots work the controls and press various buttons in preparation for take-off. Soon we see the ground disappear below us, whilst the body of the helicopter quivers from the vibration of the engine - with my own body also quivering with excitement!
The helicopter soon dips its nose, accelerating as it climbs. I can now see the fells from above and the enormous icebergs in the bay resemble small flakes of ice. Shortly afterwards, the helicopter banks and rises up through a small gorge in the fells, onward through a valley and out over the fjord
The Icefjord from above - an outstanding adventure
There are many opportunities to get onboard one of Greenland's many helicopters and set off on an adventure such as this. This particular trip was heading for the Icefjord and the glacier near Ilulissat. From the airport in Ilulissat, the helicopter heads over mountain peaks, lakes, valleys and rivers out towards the Icefjord and the Ice Sheet.
From the air we see fishing grounds along the edge of the Icefjord and further out we fly past one iceberg floating shoulder to shoulder with the next. The Icefjord is densely packed with several hundred - in fact, thousands - of icebergs, both large and small, floating in the fjord. We fly low over the magical scenery and after around half an hour in the air the pilots skilfully set the helicopter down on the fell close to the front face of the glacier itself - at the place where the Ice Sheet breaks off and forms the icebergs that can be seen floating in the Icefjord.
Powerful sensory perceptions
We clamber out of the helicopter and are immediately hit by two powerful sensations. Once the noise from the rotors has stopped, it's the almost deafening silence that dominates the location. This sensation is followed closely by the sheer coldness of the ice. The visual impression is no less profound: Everything's just so big! The glacier is enormous, the volume of ice colossal, the distances inconceivable, the colours numerous, the light moving and your state of mind is - for want of a better expression - light and happy.
After another half hour outside the helicopter, we're ready to return. The same procedure is repeated and it's not long before we're back in the air - although this time the sedate journey over the ice is superseded by a more aggressive hunt along the front face of the glacier. The pilots throw the bird out over the edge of the cliff, we speed at several hundred kilometres an hour at low height over the glacier face and a little way in over the Ice Sheet - which is markedly more jagged and cracked here.
The journey of the ice
The passengers on both sides of the helicopter are treated to this fantastic scene as the helicopter flies along the front of the glacier first one way and then the other. After a while spent in the company of nature's dramatic backdrop, we head - still at low altitude - out into the fjord, on the way flying around an iceberg with a peculiar, mystical blue hue. We follow the journey of the ice out of the fjord, and at its mouth the helicopter seems to dance intimately with the icebergs on the iceberg bank.
A joy flying above the peaks
Unfortunately every intimate dance comes to an end, and after around one and a half hours we land at the airport once more having flown past Ilulissat's brightly coloured houses shortly before landing. In high spirits, we disembark from the helicopter and walk contentedly, yet still full of awe, back to the airport building.
Flying in a helicopter in Greenland is a delight; wonderful and fascinating. It feels totally right speeding over the mountain peaks, rivers and ice with the rotor whirring above our heads. It's both strange and exciting to experience; fun and captivating at the same time.
The helicopter is the ideal way to ensure an adventure on the largest island in the world. A helicopter flight in Greenland just has to be experienced before it's possible to understand the feeling of taking off quietly and calmly, before accelerating smoothly up to several hundred kilometres an hour; to understand why a smile spreads across your face when looking out of the window and seeing the fells, the sea and Greenland from a completely new perspective.
Flying by helicopter is such a different experience that in my opinion you haven't really flown until you've flown in a helicopter.
There are three options that enable you to fly by helicopter during your stay in Greenland: a scheduled service, an organised excursion or chartering your own helicopter. A great number of scheduled services in Greenland still take place by helicopter, e.g. in South Greenland and Disko Bay during the winter. This enables you to see Greenland at low altitude when going from A to B.
In addition, there are a number of organised excursions by helicopter. The tour to the Icefjord near Ilulissat described above is available at several bureaus. Please refer to tour operators here.
However, if you really want to experience a great adventure, you can also charter your own helicopter - and thus decide yourself where you wish to fly and for how long. Air Greenland, airgreenland.com, is the biggest operator of charter helicopters in Greenland.