When it first began a few years back, the Grand Theft Auto series kept your character grounded, between running around on foot and jacking some poor fool's car to get around. Lately, though, we've gotten off the ground with a number of aerial vehicles, ranging from charter planes to helicopters.
For Grand Theft Auto V, you can take to the skies with more aircraft than ever before, whether it's a leisurely stroll in a blimp or attempting to pull a "Maverick!" in a fighter jet. Here now are some flying vehicles you'll definitely want to get your hands on over the course of the game…even if a few are simply out of curiosity…
Offered as a pre-order bonus for the game, the Atomic Blimp is easily the biggest aerial vehicle of the bunch. That means you'll be sacrificing speed in favor of size, so don't expect to make any clean getaways in this one. The Blimp is perfect if you want to see the city of Los Santos and its neighboring Blaine County from a distance, and when you're done, you can send it on a slow, gradual descent into the city. Just try not to be in the thing when it crashes. Ouch.
If you're starting to roll in the cash and want to get from place to place in style, you'll want to head over to Elitas Travel and invest in one of their special private planes. For about $1.15 million, you can invest in the lower-class Shamal, which doesn't have much in the way of traction or braking, it's a beauty in the air, as it accelerates and handles very well. Those with some extra moolah can pick up the Buckingham Luxor for $1.5 million, which has improved traction and a slight bit more speed. It all depends just how fast you want to get there.
Maybe you're just as happy with a cheaper charter plane than an all out linear jet. That's fine, as Elitas Travel offers the Cuban 800 for a meager $240,000. It's very good on handling and speed, even if it isn't as "top-of-the-line" as the Buckingham class. It's also quite small, meaning you have a better chance at getaway than in larger vehicles.
The Mallard is even smaller, big enough to fit one person and fast enough to get you through the best races with ease. It's built as a full-on stunt plane, enabling you to do tight turns and barrel rolls like a champ. If you're in the mood for speed and efficiency, this is your ride. It'll set you back $250,000.
Finally, if you want something mid-range between these two classes, the velum is just right for you. A very slickly built plane with small cabin space, the Velum makes you feel like you're in a luxury vehicle, but is built with the versatility of a jet. Its cost can vary, depending on whom you visit, but Elitas Travel is likely your best bet.
Remember the movie North By Northwest, where Cary Grant was being attacked by a stranger in a crop duster? If not, maybe it was before your time, but we always wondered what it would be like to be the crop duster. In this game, you have that opportunity, hopping in a blplane-like crop duster and flying around the city, doing tricks and dropping a big fat dust cloud on unsuspecting civilians. What it lacks in weaponry, it more than makes up for in ingenuity.
Let's say you want a plane that isn't built on speed, one that allows you to slowly coast through the city, possibly casing a location for a heist or just giving you a view of how everything looks on high. The Atomic Blimp is good for this, but if you don't have access, the Mammatus is a good alternate choice. With its slow acceleration and braking, and very small cabin room, it's perfect for one-man recon, or flying around just to goof off.
While the helicopter is bulkier than most aircraft – and also handles much differently due to its build – it's still one of the best vehicles you can get, whether you're sightseeing or pursuing after someone. You should also be able to launch assaults from it once Grand Theft Auto Online launches, which is a nice touch. You should be able to find helicopters on some of the businesses in the lower east section of the city. Look around, and maybe prepare to do some climbing.
If you need to be dropped off at a certain location from a great height, you're going to require a vehicle that can get you there quickly and conveniently. A helicopter could work if you're not in a hurry, but otherwise, you'll need to call in the Titan. This fixed-wing military aircraft is perfect for drop-offs, and getting you there quickly. There's a catch, though. This is one of the toughest vehicles to get in the game, as you'll achieve a four-star wanted level for just walking onto the base where it's located, Fort Zancudo. Step lively and you might just get away with it – MIGHT.
Finally, let's talk about one of the most enjoyable vehicles in the game – the fighter jet. Here, you're given the best of both worlds – an aircraft that can handle itself around tight turns and offers exhilarating speed, and is also armed to the teeth with a pair of cannons and missiles. That's perfect for an aerial strike, in case you need to wipe out a target in a hurry.
Your best bet when it comes to fighter jets is the P-996 LAZER. This thing is built around the model of the F-16C Fighting Falcon, with top-level handling and weapons. The only thing it lacks is countermeasures, so if you're using it online, watch out for incoming attacks.
Like most top-grade military vehicles, it's located in Fort Zancudo as well. Run in and get it while you can.
Happy travels. We'll see you in the sky!
Grand Theft Auto V is available now for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. Be sure to check out our Free Guide for full game coverage.