You’d think being belted in and sitting in a helicopter with its door open when it’s airborne as your left leg rests on a gun mount outside and you’re holding a machine gun would make you nervous. But it didn’t.
I wasn’t scared at all as I felt the empty space in front of me, heard the thump of the helicopter’s rotor blades, lined up a steel target hundreds of yards away in the gun’s red dot optic, heard the safety officer tell me to go for it and pulled the trigger.
It made me feel like I was a soldier completing an important mission or an actor filming a scene in an action movie, but I’m neither of those things. I’m just a normal person on a flight with Gunship Helicopters, the company that gives people a chance to safely shoot a fully automatic machine gun from a helicopter at a 71-acre outdoor shooting range in the Mojave Desert in Sandy Valley.
Gunship Helicopters is operated by Matthew Fahnestock, his dad and Boulder City resident Bob Fahnestock, and their friend Randy Saenz. The company started in 2015 after they had the idea to marry their mutual aviation experience with another activity: shooting machine guns.
“We really just want to provide … something you can’t get anywhere else in the world,” said Matthew Fahnestock.
“Matthew and I were like, ‘We could do this.’ … So we started with some shoulder machine guns and just kept getting bigger,” Saenz said.