AUSTIN (KXAN) - Formula One is driving new business to Central Texas once again. Helicopter tours are Austin's latest attraction.
Austin Helicopter Tours had its ribbon-cutting Monday at Bud Dryden Airport, located at 10301 FM 969 . Owner Randy Riggs also operates Alamo Helicopter Tours in San Antonio, but expanded to Austin ahead of the Formula One race in mid-November.
"There's going to be a huge demand for landings at the Formula One track," said Riggs.
For $545 per person round trip, Austin Helicopter Tours will fly a charter to the Circuit of The Americas for the first-ever U.S. Grand Prix held in Austin.
"From our location to the Formula One track is about four minutes, compared to about two or three hours in traffic," added Riggs. "No one knows yet."
Tours range from $84 to $800 and travel above Austin's hottest locations, like the Capitol, The University of Texas, and the Circuit of The Americas. The more expensive flights also charter to the Texas Hill Country.
"I think the downtown area is absolutely the best thing to see," said helicopter pilot Justin Little. "You can see our great looking Capitol, DKR-Texas Memorial Stadium, Zilker Park and Auditorium Shores. You've got so many great things to see in a short time period."
Tourism brought $4.3 billion to Austin's economy in 2011, according to Dean Runyan Associates .
Circuit of The Americas expects visitors to add another $300 million during F1 weekend, set for Nov. 16 - Nov. 18. Practice races are on Friday at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., on Saturday at 10 a.m., with the qualifying race at 3 p.m. The main event is Sunday at 1 p.m.
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