A few days ago I came across a beautifully written post on Positively Michael detailing a member’s ride over Neverland via helicopter. Needless to say, the written experience this writer describes leaves you just a tad bit jealous!
Yes, I was nervous. I fly very often as part of my job, and had flown in a small 6-seat plane before, but never in a 4-seat helicopter! But now that I’ve done it, I can say I’d do it again in an instant.
Dan, our pilot, and Travis who called himself the “cargo loader” or something like that (LOL) immediately put us at ease. Honestly, I think they were expecting wailing lunatics carrying ‘He is Innocent’ placards or something, and were surprised to find that we were (well, relatively) normal. Travis prepped us by explaining how to board and how to fasten the seat belt and put on the headphones-with-microphone that we would use to talk to each other over the noise.
Then we made the walk to our transportation, on a small airstrip in the private plane area at Santa Barbara Municipal Airport. LOL, we all ducked as we got in range of the propeller blades (no doubt, as a result of watching too many TV shows that show someone hunching down low to board a copter) but it wasn’t really necessary, as the blades were wayyyyy over our heads. I got in, buckled up, put on the ‘phones, and took a deep breath.
And we took off, with the nose pointed down ever so slightly, just like you see on TV. Honestly, it was as smooth as silk, much smoother than taking off in a jet. Up we went, over the mountains west of Santa Barbara. The altitude was the same as it would be a minute before you land in a plane, but because the windows were so much bigger than those little airplane portholes, I.COULD.SEE. I remembered the movie “Out of Africa,” the portion where they are up in the little bitty plane, and the camera pans scenes of the terrain below. The view was just epic: the mountain peaks and valleys, a small lake.
And then…. Dan alerted us we were near the ranch. I think we all just held our breath. We approached from the southwest, over one more mountain, and there it was.
It looked like a sprawling green oasis in the middle of dry high desert. The first things I remember seeing were the helipad, and then several circles of metal fence, where the rides used to be (/weepy). We turned – north, I think – and circled. We did about 3 circles over the whole ranch (I think it was 3, I was too excited to count), each a bit lower. The last was low enough to get a really good view of the huge main house, the pool, the small lake, the train station, the clock garden (and the time on the clock was correct!!!), the main gate and the long winding road to the parking area, everything! We all just grinned upon seeing that the grounds were obviously well-tended. As I think another member has already said, Dan was very conscientious about keeping us at an altitude that maintained a respectful distance, wasn’t stalker-ish or in any way intrusive, yet was low enough to get a really good look.
I wasn’t prepared for the range and intensity of the emotions I felt as I looked out the window. I was awed, elated, grief-stricken-all-over-again, thinking “what if” thoughts, feeling as if I was saying goodbye for about the millionth time yet for the millionth time not able to let go. As another PosMike member has said already, I felt one step closer to truly knowing who Michael was, what motivated him, what made him happy.
On the ride back we played MJ tunes and were all weepy and smiley at the same time. Our touch-down back on the airstrip was, just like the takeoff, smooth and easy, easier than any experience landing in a plane.
If you decide to do this, here are a few more things I can tell you to help you prepare.
You’ll feel a little wobbly and weird for about 30 minutes to an hour after you land. I think it’s because of the altitude, and it’s normal. Just drink some water and you’ll be fine.
Bring a small camera with a zoom lens, if you have one. The pics will be better with a real camera than with a mobile phone camera.
There’s enough room in the helicopter for your purse or a small tote, but no more than that, so don’t bring much besides your sweet self.
Be prepared for a combination of intense and conflicting emotions as you see the ranch. Just breathe.
I can’t find any other words to describe how exhilarating this experience was, both physically and emotionally. I will never forget it.