SoCal helicopter pilot helps influencers create perfect Instagram selfies in the sky

- A Southern California helicopter pilot is helping social media influencers take their Instagram feed to new heights.

Robin Petgrave is the chief pilot and owner of Celebrity Helicopters, one of several companies offering tours around the Los Angeles area.

Celebrity Helicopters has done aerial photography for movies, television and music videos. The business is now booming with Instagrammers looking for that enviable selfie in the sky while flying in a Robinson R44 helicopter.

"I give those unique angles and those unique views that nobody else does because I've just been around it for so long," Petgrave said. "I love when they come flying with me, because at the end of the flight, they'll be like, 'I've never done anything like that! That's the coolest thing I've ever done.'"

Model Zinta Braukis is an influencer on Instagram and says posting beautiful photos in the air lands her other modeling jobs.

"Some of my most fun jobs now have all been because of Instagram and clients seeing what I post and becoming inspired by my photos," she said.

Some passengers take daredevil-type photos, appearing to show their legs dangling outside of the helicopter or their head sticking out.

"For the really sick shots, (we) take the whole door off," Petgrave said.

Petgrave said it's legal to fly without doors on the helicopter and passengers remain buckled and strapped in the entire flight.

"With the Instagrammers, it looks really dramatic and so I show them little techniques on how, even if they're scared and they don't want to hang out, there are ways that they can shoot it so it looks like they are hanging out," Petgrave explained.

Three passengers can fit in the chopper, and the cost can be shared by all. Celebrity Helicopters offers several different tour options and pricing, including customized packages.

A portion of the proceeds from the flights fund Tomorrow's Aeronautical Museum, a nonprofit that teaches children about diversity and history in aviation and empowers them to take flight.

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