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Maverick, Papillon helicopters compared head to head

Maverick Helicopters vs. Papillon

Highly respected tourism helicopter operators go head to head in a comparison; though it must be said not much can separate the US giants of helicopter tours.

Not so much Maverick Helicopters vs. Papillon, but more so an head to head in each category, so book a tour according to your needs. I will compare them in a table, before looking at cost, flight duration and extra services. Then its time to know a bit more about the types of helicopters and the tours they operate.

Why you might be interested in pitting the big helicopter tour companies is that you are indifferent to which operator you fly with.

Know that if you select Maverick Helicopters or Papillon; they operate a similar service with only Papillon offering on average, a cheaper price with a longer tour duration.

What you should be doing as a potential customer is weighing the pro's and con's on how they will benefit you.

That is in regards to budget, how long you want to fly for, or more importantly; do you want to a helicopter flight only - or one that includes a helicopter landing tour.

Papillon and Maverick operate out of similar locations; focusing on tours over Las Vegas or Grand Canyon - while Maverick are setup in Hawaii, Papillon are not.

So go ahead and see how the helicopter tour operators do business. Start with my comparison table before going into more in-depth.

Comparison table:

  Maverick Helicopters Papillon
Official Site: Maverick web site Papillon web site
Est.: 1995 1965
Cost: average $370.00 $240
Duration: average 4hr10min. 4hr28min.
Annual No.: 250,000 600,000
In the Air ONLY: 8 9
Helicopter Tour No.: 18 25
Departures: 6 6
Shuttle: YES YES
Flight Footage: YES NO
How many landing tours: 5 11
Fleet No.: -50 48
Helicopter Type: Airbus EC130, Airbus H130 Airbus EC130, Airbus AS350, Bell 206L, 407, MD900
Passenger No.: 6 6
Age Restriction: NO NO
Maximum Weight: 300lb 300lb
Grand Canyon Tour: YES YES
Las Vegas Tour: YES YES
Hawaii Tour: Kauai or Maui NO
Private Flight: YES YES
Booking: 2 Weeks in Advanced 2 Weeks in Advanced
Opening Days:  365 days a year  365 days a year
FREE Lap Child:  YES Unknown

About the companies

To get a better understanding how the helicopter operators compare; you'll first need to know a little bit about the companies.

Maverick Helicopters

Established in 1995, Maverick Helicopters serve over 200K customers annually over the Grand Canyon, Las Vegas - including Kauai and Maui in Hawaii.

Maverick were created out of the relationship of a entrepreneurial couple with one helicopter, before developing their fleet as we know it today.

Today, the company has over 400 staff on their books out of six departure location.


Established in 1965, Papillon were flying passengers across the USA 30 years earlier than Maverick Helicopters - now their closet, yet respected rival.

Papillon cater for more than 600,000 passengers annually with a focus on Las Vegas and what is often cheaper Grand Canyon tour options.

Employing more than 600 staff, Papillon started as a one person operation until evolving into one of the world's largest tourist helicopter operators.

How much do tours cost

When I leave out special private helicopter tours, I will instead add up tours that are accessible to all; You'll find that Papillon and Maverick have a similar tour price range.

Maverick Helicopters

Of Maverick's 18 helicopter tours departing for Grand Canyon, Las Vegas and Hawaii - it will cost you on average $370.00 per person.

That price will change if looking at prices for departure or destination specifically, but overall you should expect to pay the average price mentioned.

Maverick operate a helicopter only tours with an option for adventure landing tours.


Papillon operator 25 exclusive helicopter tours, focusing on the Grand Canyon or Las Vegas - but not in Hawaii, like Maverick Helicopters.

The average cost to take a helicopter tour with Papillon is $240 on average; so much cheaper than Maverick.

Helicopter tours can cost much more or less, but overall expect to pay this price for one of their mid-range excursions.

Duration of tours

To calculate the average time it will take to complete your helicopter tour, I've done so well including all 'in the air' tours and 'landing' tours.

Maverick Helicopters

Duration of flights or landing tours with Maverick averages 4 hour, 10 minutes. So you can expect the whole experience to last more than 8 hours from hotel to hotel.

Las Vegas times are short in supply while the Grand Canyon helicopter tours start from 3 to 3 hours and 30 minutes - up to 7 hours and 30 minutes at most.

Participating in Hawaii helicopter tours are much shorter at 25 to 75 minutes.


While Papillon helicopter tours will cost you $130.00 less on average, the experience will last longer than Maverick with an average of 18 minutes, totaling 4 hours, 28 minutes.

Focus over a Papillon Grand Canyon helicopter tour will take anywhere between 10 minutes to 3 hours, 30 minutes - not including one tour that lasts upwards of 13 hours.

What Papillon lack in Hawaii, they make up for it with Las Vegas helicopter strip tours amongst other landmarks.

In Air Only vs. Landing tours

When a customer pick's an 'air only tour' it can be done on the cheap; while a helicopter landing tour into the Grand Canyon can come at a heavier price with more time needed.

Maverick Helicopters

Of Maverick's 5 helicopter landing tours, four of the tours take place on their exclusive Grand Canyon tours - with a single landing tour in Maui, Hawaii.

Noticeable, yet well known landing trips are the Wind Dance, Free Spirit, and Indian Territory landing at the Grand Canyon - lasting from 4 hours - to 4 hours, 30 minutes.

Maverick Maui helicopter landing is an excursion into a secluded rainforest spot.


With Papillon's 25 Grand Canyon helicopter tours, 11 of them include a landing - so land on the canyon floor, Tower Butte or near the Hoover Dam to participate in an activity.

So many to pick, but you'll be sure to want to focus on their Grand Celebration Tour, Grand Voyage or Tower Butte Landing Tour, respectively.

Landing tours don't exist for Las Vegas, though activities can be arranged for later.

Departure locations

Pay close attention to departure locations as this is where you will have to be at in time to take your helicopter tour via Maverick or Papillon.

Maverick Helicopters

If taking a Maverick Helicopter tour over the Grand Canyon or Las Vegas strip, expect their Las Vegas Terminal to be your departure point.

Second Nevada departure is Henderson Exec. Airport that serves a number of tours, with Grand Canyon National Park Airport or Peach Springs - located in Arizona.

When flying with Maverick in Hawaii, you'll need to arrive at the Kahului Heliport in Maui, or Port Allen Airport if you're in Kauai.


When taking a helicopter tour with Maverick, you will need to be at one of the following 6 locations to participate in their tours.

Nevada location at Las Vegas Terminal serves the Las Vegas Strip and Grand Canyon, while Boulder City Terminal or Hoover Dam Terminal serves Grand Canyon tours only.

Passengers with access via Arizona can depart for the Grand Canyon out of Grand Canyon Village, Grand Canyon West Airport and Page Municipal Airport.

Extra services

You probably won't get it FREE but it is possible to get additional services at costs, namely a shuttle service to and from your hotel.

Maverick Helicopters

Maverick offer a shuttle service using their luxury bus that will pick you up from a location that is mentioned when you order.

Its a hotel pick up so if you're not staying at a hotel available on the reservation, you could simply walk over to the nearest hotel lobby area outside to be picked up.

What else Maverick offer customers is the option to purchase a DVD copy of there flight with an outside or, and in the cabin recording footage.


If you're flying in briefly to McCarran International Airport in Nevada; why not arrange for Papillon to pick you up using their shuttle service directly from the airport.

Otherwise, you're free to select your hotel if you're staying at one; so while Papillon make pick up's from most hotels in Las Vegas available, it won't be a problem.

Papillon do offer a slightly improved shuttle service (all at costs mind you) but they don't have footage of the helicopter flight passengers can purchase.

Helicopters in use

Type of helicopter you'll be flying in will have an effect on your experience; Maverick and Papillon have a fleet of 48 helicopters, with the Airbus EC130 taking the lead.

Maverick Helicopters

Its not very often you'll see the 6-seater Airbus H130 being used by Maverick, but when you do it will be involved with Grand Canyon tours only.

Otherwise, expect to see their distinguished silver, red - 7 seater Airbus EC130 - doing the rounds out of Nevada.

Not only that, but the Airbus EC130 is almost exclusively used for Hawaiian helicopter tours, with the helicopter model used for private charters.


The Papillon Airbus EC130 will be the helicopter model used for passengers flying over the Grand Canyon or Las Vegas

But so is the Airbus AS350 - or AStar - available for use in the Grand Canyon out of Las Vegas or Boulder City.

Likewise, while taking a Arizona helicopter tour departure; you'll be flying in their Bell 407 or Bell 206L - all are spacious with 6 passenger seats.

Passenger must know

To make sure things go off without a hitch; know what Maverick Helicopters or Papillon's rules on passengers are - with an important decision to make based off that.

Maverick Helicopters

While Maverick will fly you in their Airbus EC130 almost exclusively, this type of helicopter allows for passengers weighing no more than 600lbs to fly.

If participating in a Airbus H130 flight, the weight limit for a helicopter tour will be, or should be identical.

No minimum age restriction for a helicopter tour, but for those who bring a child under 24 months - they're classed as a lap child so go for FREE.


Papillon operate a fleet of helicopters almost identical to Maverick; so all models will allow for a passenger minimum weight limit of 300lb, per person.

No age restriction so babies or senior's can fly; but I can't find out if they have a Lap Child policy, so do check as toddlers sitting in laps go free.

Other than flying in the Airbus EC130, the rules outlined might be different if flying in their Bell 206L LongRanger or Bell 407, so do check.

Who operates the best helicopter tours

Do I really have to make a decision based on who are the best helicopter tour operators; because really it depends hugely on passenger's needs, budget and time available.

Maverick Helicopters

What Maverick do well is their helicopter tours over the Grand Canyon, but are limited with suitable flights over Las Vegas.

Where they make up for that is there services out of Hawaii; with Kauai and Maui being two of my favorite places to visit in the world - so I would be a little biased there.

Maverick have top helicopter tours that are known by name, with lots of public interest.


Where Maverick lack in Las Vegas tours catering for everyone; Papillon make up the difference with their Las Vegas strip tours.

Papillon are not short of Grand Canyon tours either; as they extend to activities involving the Skywalk, to a Hoover Dam walkabout, Hummer experience to shooting.

Unfortunately, Papillon don't operate out of Hawaii so with no presence there; you could say Maverick just about win the contest with location - but that would be harsh on Papillon.

Private bookings

Bespoke helicopter charters are available with an option to book a private helicopter flight for a wedding, yourself, private family excursion, film, TV or something more unique.

Maverick Helicopters

If you're thinking about taking a private helicopter tour with Maverick, know they will be taking you in their exclusive, luxury corporate 6-seater Airbus EC130.

Maverick have the ability to fly wedding parties, families or for use in TV or film to remote, yet inaccessible locations over the Grand Canyon.

If in Hawaii, perhaps you're thinking about taking a Kauai private helicopter tour or maybe in the remote island of Maui - Maverick don't operate out of the Big Island or Oahu.


Papillon are prepared to fly you or your party using one of their many types of helicopters, with a passenger capacity ranging from 5 to 6.

Seating arrangements can be made so you don't end up paying to cover for more seats than is needed.

The company are capable of flying you out of Nevada or Arizona to depart for the Grand Canyon, or a location to a private event or your own your own private land.


I've said it once already so I'll say it again, I cannot pick a winner of who is the best helicopter tour company between Maverick and Papillon.

Its not a case of Maverick vs. Papillon, as the companies operate a service that is so unique, no helicopter tour is the same.

So instead, allow me to briefly go over where you can tell the helicopter operators apart.

While Papillon is the oldest of the two, Maverick were established 30 years later.

There's a difference in cost per person with the price with Maverick costing customers, on average - $30.00 more.

Duration of the tour is similar, with Papillon coming out top with 18 minutes more.

If you want an exclusive 'in the air only flight,' the operators offer a very similar number while Papillon have far more helicopter landing tours.

Departure points are operated out of Nevada or Arizona location for them both.

The Airbus EC130 is the helicopter of choice with 6-seats available, plus a maximum weight limit of 300lb - and no age restriction.

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