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How long is a 12 mile helicopter ride

Know that a 12 mile ride won't last long unless the area where you're taking the flight is not too busy, with a longer flight expected in a rural area's.

How long a 12 mile helicopter ride will be is calculated at 8 to 10 minutes. The helicopter in use can have an effect how long it will last; so if its a helicopter with a fast cruise speed, the flight will end sooner. On the otherhand, if its a slower model, such as pistol engine chopper, the ride may last longer.

If you're afraid the helicopter ride you wish to take is not enough to enjoy the experience, you should really take a flight based on minutes, not miles.

Helicopter rides calculated by miles can be misleading in that they don't last very long.

If you want to book a 12 mile helicopter ride then do so knowing what helicopter type will be in use - and from what location.

While the helicopter operator will give you an estimate how long a 12 mile helicopter ride will be, its only a guess and not a guarantee.

So let's take a look at what the official helicopter ride operators are saying, along with my estimates for all common helicopters in use for rides in the UK.

What the operators tell us

So while my estimated time to travel a 12 mile helicopter ride stands at a reasonable 10 minutes, 22 seconds...

Let's take a look at what the helicopter operators have to tell us with there estimates.

If going by the big 4 helicopter day experience services who offer a 12 mile helicopter ride, that brings there average to 8 minutes, 37 seconds.

That is a fair guess on there part as in total, all estimate a time of around 8 minutes beforehand; with my calculations increasing the time by an additional 2 minutes.

What that tells us all, is the helicopter operators will bring there cruise speed to under half of its maximum speed.

Its also hard to take into consideration if the flight time is calculated if the helicopter operators start the clock when the engines are turned on, off, etc.

My Estimated 'Miles' to 'Minutes' calculations

While the leading helicopter experience operators estimate around 8 minutes, and I won't disagree with that as it seems very fair.

This is how I calculated how long a 12 mile helicopter ride is; estimated by the helicopter commonly used for helicopter rides in the UK.

Cruise speed is a maximum speed reached by each helicopter model if the flight is a no-nonsense circuit or circle around the airfield.

If that maximum speed was reached for rides, then it would be an average of just 5 minutes for a 12 mile helicopter ride, so things have to be slowed down.

So expect the speed to be cut in half as the pilot doesn't venture to far out, so will have to fly more gently as to not be to disruptive.

Therefore, I assume the cruise speed will be cut in half, thus increasing the time of a helicopter ride to last twice as long.

Helicopter-Type: Cruise Speed Est. Speed In 12 Miles: Est. Time:
Airbus H130 147 Mph 73 04:54 09.08
Airbus H125 161 Mph 80 04:28 08.56
MD 500 141 Mph 70 05:06 10.12
Bell 407 153 Mph 76 04:42 09.24
Bell 206 JetRanger 126 Mph 63 05:43 11.26
206L LongRanger 120 Mph 60 06:00 12.00
Robinson R44 125 Mph 62 05:46 11.32

Average time it will take

Once I've calculated all estimated speeds to miles, the average 12 mile helicopter ride will last 10:22 - give or take a minute or so.

If you care to view the column in my table labeled 'Est. Time:' this is my calculated time (or estimated time) I have created in quite a simple, yet fair way.

Take the full cruise speed the helicopter model in use is capable of flying at, then cut this time in half as to bring the flight time up, while the helicopter ride is more a pleasure flight.

That's oppose to a helicopter BUZZ flight that relies on thrills and spills at great speed.

At the end of the day, the average minutes spent on your helicopter ride will instead be set on a time, regardless of how far you will travel.

So it could be anywhere between 8 minutes as mentioned by the operators, or upward of 10 minutes or more as estimated by me.

Speed of helicopter in use

What helicopter model or type you fly in will have an effect of how many minutes you will spend on your themed 12 helicopter ride in the UK.

While operators will tend to bring the 12 mile trip to an 8 or 10 minute flight; the helicopter in will see you traveling at a greater speed, within the promise of the 12 mile helicopter ride.

However, there's a catch in that if you do the 12 mile circuit in a short time at a faster speed, it will in turn bring your ride to an abrupt end, sooner rather than later.

If you instead take a helicopter ride in a helicopter model that cruises at a slower pace; then the 12 mile flight would, or in theory - will last longer.

Thus getting your monies worth with more time spent in the air.

If you want to spend more time in the air, its essential you drop the idea of a 12 mile helicopter ride, well instead choosing a flight that is based on minutes.

Low sightseeing speed

Its very normal to see any helicopter speed brought down a notch so the passengers can view the sights at a reasonable sightseeing pace.

If you're taking a helicopter ride in the Lake District, then for sure people won't want to miss a thing, so the pilot slows the chopper up.

That also goes for viewing other UK national parks by helicopter, including Snowdonia or the Peak District.

Don't expect to be traveling at full cruise speed in built up areas in busy air traffic, such as London or Manchester for safety reasons.

I've mentioned previously low speed helicopter rides can only mean the flight will last longer.

If taking a helicopter ride in a more rural area or over the water, things might be sped up a little as the pilot as more freedom.

Full 'Cruise Speed' ahead

Its not always possible you'll go at full cruise speed in a rural location, such as near an airfield or farm land, but it is more a possibility.

Here's why, where there's limited helicopter flights that have been arranged out of a secluded spots around the country, its possible there's more flights to be had.

So as there's more helicopter rides in a single day to complete in an appropriate time, its vital the helicopter operator does the 12 mile ride as quickly as possible.

The number of passengers waiting for there turn can add up a hundred people, so no time is waisted.

Full cruise speed for a 12 mile helicopter ride over cities is less possible due to strict rules, even though capital cities can be busy for people waiting there turn.

Lingering or circling

All calculations and guesstimations all outlined above don't matter if the helicopter pilot is instructed to circle for safety reasons or if its part of the helicopter ride.

So well a 12 mile trip will be met more often than not, its possible its only 12 miles in name only as the helicopter travels no farther than say, 6 to 7 miles away.

Reason for that is the helicopter might be taking a sightseeing ride where the pilot makes sure passengers see all the sights.

That can be a half-circle at a lower speed, or a complete circuit around a landmark or tourist attraction on the ground.

Completing a circuit or full circle could be part of that 12 mile ride.

So well it might seem you will be traveling 12 miles away, you really will not. In fact, you will be flying 6 miles out, then 6 miles back to make up the 12 miles.

So in that respect, you will only be seeing 6 miles there, with a similar flight route back.


While estimated time for a 12 mile helicopter ride is expected to take 8 minutes and 37 seconds by official operators.

My estimates bring there average flight time up to an additional 2 minutes at 10 minutes, 22 seconds.

How long a 12 helicopter ride is could depend on the helicopter type in use with a cruise speed ranging from 120 to 161 miles per hour.

What that tells us if the helicopter travels at full tilt, or brings its cruise speed to a slow; it will bring the helicopter ride to and end more quickly.

Whereas a helicopter that as a slow speed, the helicopter ride is likely to reach the time that I calculated, 10 minutes or so.

Remember you won't be necessarily travel 12 miles in total; as its possible you'll do a long circuit near to the airfield or helipad you originally departed.

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