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19 July 2024
Helicopter in flight.

I am in the lucky position to say that I have flown the Grand Canyon on three occasions.

Fly the Grand Canyon.

The first time I flew the Grand Canyon was when I was a teenager on a holiday, a road trip,  with my mum, dad and sister. I was lucky enough to sit next to the pilot on this flight and partway through the trip, he pointed out a buzzard watching us. It was about to play chicken with us and try to scare us off. It flew straight at us, hitting the windscreen and exploding into bits. I knew what was happening, but everyone in the back heard the giant bang and felt the helicopter shake. The pilot told everyone else what had happened while I was still laughing.

The second time I flew the canyon, I was on a trip with my friend Alastar, and I could once again sit in the front. My third flight was when I was on an escorted coach tour of America's National Parks and Monuments, but this time, I had to sit in the back of the helicopter. As I was also in the middle of the seat, I didn't have a direct window to look out of, so it was not as good, but I have to say I love flying in helicopters.

The Grand Canyon is a steep-sided canyon carved by the Colorado River in Arizona in the United States. It is contained within and managed by the Grand Canyon National Park, the Kaibab National Forest, the Grand Canyon Parashant National Monument, the Hualapai Tribal Nation, the Havasupai people and the Navajo Nation. President Theodore Roosevelt was a major proponent of preserving the Grand Canyon area and visited it numerous times to hunt and enjoy the scenery.

The Grand Canyon is 277 miles long, up to 18 miles wide and attains a depth of over a mile. Nearly two billion years of Earth's geological history have been exposed as the Colorado River and its tributaries cut their channels through layer after layer of rock while the Colorado Plateau was uplifted. While geologists debate the specific geologic processes and timing that formed the Grand Canyon, recent evidence suggests that the Colorado River established its course through the canyon at least 17 million years ago. Since then, the Colorado River has continued to erode and form the canyon into its present-day configuration.

For thousands of years, the area has been inhabited by Native Americans who built settlements within the canyon and its many caves. The Pueblo people considered the Grand Canyon a holy site and made pilgrimages to it. The first European known to have viewed the Grand Canyon was García López de Cárdenas from Spain, who arrived in 1540.