THE COAST, with Seaside Helicopters
By Andre' Hagestedt
Oregon Coast will never cease to surprise you if you give it enough
attention. Trust me. This insanely cool excursion will do just
that, but in more ways than you'll probably imagine.
It's an unusual and powerful day on the coast: for me personally,
and with the wild, funky weather that flip-flops between small
rain squalls and mostly warm, even muggy, sunny weather. It feels
like August in the valley, but it's only mid-April.
in this atmosphere, one of slightly mystical weather, that I embark
upon Gary Turel's mind-boggingly fun ride, Seaside Helicopters.
Gary bought into this business about four years ago, after years
of being addicted to flying on his own. It's like his dream job,
he confesses to me after the ride in the sky. The National Guard
veteran exclaims his ultimate goal would've been to wind up a
fighter pilot and eventually make his way into the astronaut program.
But he didn't meet the rigid criteria for the ranks of the Right
Stuff set - although he qualified for commercial flight.
a comforting and personable presence in the helicopter as he zips
around the shores of Cannon Beach, Tillamook Head and Seaside
at about 100-plus miles an hour. First, you don the headset with
the microphone system, enabling you to speak with Gary and he
to speak to you. I blurt out, "I feel like an astronaut,"
and immediately wonder how many times has he heard that line.
you're strapped in, and takeoff happens shortly after.
With a bubble window to the world below, you feel yourself ever
so gently lift upwards, a sensation similar in some ways to easing
up in an airplane, but in a helicopter there's definitely that
spine-tingling feeling of rising faster. It's exhilarating to
say the least, with the tilt of the aircraft pulling you against
its quick upward ascension.
me, I became used to this new and unique feeling within minutes,
and it was soon no longer that intense thrill. I was too busy.
I was armed with my digital and 35 mm camera, and quickly became
engaged in trying to shoot as many photos as I could..
no time, we're up over the back of Tillamook Head, where Gary
points out its sheer cliffs from this side, spots where elk congregate
and even the small bald spot on top of the mountain that is the
Lewis & Clark monument.
Most incredible is approaching the tip of Tillamook Head as Gary
points out a rocky arch sitting offshore called "Goonies
Rock," which was featured in the movie "Goonies."
He swings around from here, allows me to shoot shots of Cannon
Beach's Haystack Rock, Crescent Beach, Indian Beach and the top
of Ecola State Park.
there, we swing around again, head north over Tillamook Head,
and he shows me that rocky shoreline beneath the headland that
can't be seen any other way. At this point, Seaside is in full
view, as are the shores of southern Washington and hints of Astoria.
Then it's back to the landing pad, with a zoom over the adjacent
Seaside Family Fun Park and its numerous fun-tastic possibilities
ten or 15 minutes have gone by. It's hard to tell. Apparently,
most rides run about 10 minutes or so, beginning at $25 per person,
with options including the Cannon Beach run, a nature/wildlife
run, Seaside-from-above or other combinations.
He's had several marriage proposals happen during the flights,
including one memorable excursion where the man and his friends
had scrawled a huge "will you marry me?" in the sands
of Seaside. She emphatically squealed "yes," says Gary.
we chat, and he tells me he's THE Gary Turel that ran Columbia
Tax Services with his brother Stan Turel in the 90's, appearing
on TV commercials and running a tax advice radio show on KEX 1190.
He was like the Tom Peterson of accounting in Portland. I was
in the company of a local celebrity of sorts.
Gary tells me his life of flying during these years got him the
nickname of the "Flying Accountant." He and Stan sold
the tax biz a few years ago, and since then Gary's been devoting
his time between his love of flight and his kids, eight-year-old
Andrew and 11-year-old Andrea. Now, quite literally, it seems
the sky's the limit. Hwy 101, S. Seaside. www.seaside-helicopters.com.