The helicopter lifted off gently, swooping into the sky over Lake Erie and around downtown Cleveland. It felt like the first uphill climb of a roller coaster, the beginning of the swing ride at an amusement park.

“Here we go,” said Ryan Maehs, a helicopter pilot for Paratus Air.

Paratus — based in Put-in-Bay and at Burke Lakefront Airport in Cleveland — gave RocktheLake a ride above the Lake Erie shoreline, to see the ice shanty village north of Catawba.

We saw the red and blue tents, and the snowmobiles, four-wheelers and air boats that lugged all the stuff out. We flew over a deserted Cedar Point, the Marblehead lighthouse and every town between Cleveland and Catawba. You could see the mansions on the lake, the iced over marinas, the water towers and schools.

RocktheLake took a helicopter tour over Lake Erie.

We flew about 100 knots, or about 115 miles per hour, about 500 feet above ground, on a shiny kelly green Robinson R44, which seats four.

Maehs moved from Oklahoma to Cleveland in September to work for Paratus, which offers tours in Cleveland and Put-in-Bay, as well as Port Clinton, and Fort Wayne, Indiana. 

He hasn’t had much time to explore the city from the ground, he said.

Cleveland looks pretty cool from the air. You can have your own tour on Paratus for about $50 per person for a five-minute spin or $100 for 15 minutes. Check out their website or call 914-FLY-HELI.

See the Facebook Live video of our flight below, and check out more on our Facebook page.