ISAIAH BURCH HAS HAD A PASSION FOR AVIATION FOR AS FAR BACK AS HE CAN REMEMBER.
But it was the helicopter that specifically got him dreaming.
“It’s the closest thing that I could dream that I was a bird or flying on a magic carpet,” said the owner of Hilton Head Helicopter Tours.
“It’s the closest thing that I could dream that I was a bird or flying on a magic carpet,” said the owner of Hilton Head Helicopter Tours. “There’s no restrictions, nothing hindering the view like the wing of airplane. You can go any direction you want. It’s amazing. I love spreading that passion.”
Burch grew up in a single-parent home in Tipp City, Ohio. When other parents were driving their kids to soccer games, his mother was driving him to flying lessons at the age of 14. He worked multiple jobs to continue his training through his teens. After a decade of piloting charter planes professionally, Burch had an epiphany.
“Nine years ago, I took a ride a helicopter ride at a state fair and I couldn’t believe what I was missing,” he said.
He has done aerial photography work for everyone from Vanilla Ice to the National Geographic Channel. But when he looked to open a tour business, Burch and his fiancée, Lori, were instantly drawn to Hilton Head Island.
“The views, the amazing untapped nooks and crannies of all the islands here, it’s just stunning and spectacular to see from a helicopter,” he said. “This is a unique family experience in a vacation heaven that is thirsty for family fun options beyond the beach. Daufuskie, for example, is stunning from the air. We show people parts of the Lowcountry in five minutes what would take them a day to walk through.”
Hilton Head Helicopter Tours began in January and has quickly grown into one of the favorite tours and activities for both tourists and locals, rising from No. 108 to No. 16 on TripAdvisor over the past five months.
Burch offers five different tours that start at $39 per person and last anywhere from five to 45 minutes. Longer tours go into Georgia and over Tybee Island and Fort Pulaski, and Burch will customize tours for his clients.
Burch has worked extensively with town officials to create routes that are less noisy to residents but still thrilling for riders.
His state-of-the-art Robinson R44 Raven II helicopter features bubble windows, which give riders an even better view of their surroundings. It can accommodate three passengers at a time, but Burch stresses that larger groups have loved the experience.
“We keep everyone moving on and off the copter seamlessly,” he said. “With families, we’ll have two kids ride with each of their parents, so the kids fly twice for one price. They wear the headsets and sit in the cockpit with me. The kids’ feedback and joy has been the best part of this by far.”
There is no age minimum or maximum. Burch said he’ll tailor tours to any budget but prides himself on being the most affordable tour on the East Coast.
As his business grows on the island, Burch plans to start a scholarship program to pay for underprivileged kids to take flying lessons for free.
“I want to spread this passion and make sure if a child gets the flying bug like I did, nothing stops them,” he said.
For more information on Hilton Head Helicopter Tours, call 843-505-7182, go to www.flyhhi.com or like Hilton Head Helicopter Tours on Facebook.