Flying is Jeff Puckett's drug of choice.
Climbing into the cockpit of his Bell 407 helicopter, he fires up the machine's jet engine. The rotors spin up to full power, and after getting clearance from the control tower Puckett zooms off the tarmac and heads for downtown Denver.
The chopper passes over tall buildings and the gold-dome of the mile-high Colorado state capitol. Then it turns toward the mountains west of town, slowly passing 500 feet above the famous Red Rocks amphitheater.
"How cool is that?" he asks, all smiles.
Over the 407's intercom, Puckett said flying clears his soul.
"You just come up here and you kind of forget about your troubles down below us," he said.
A few years ago Puckett shared that feeling, hoping to cheer up his friend and pastor, Tom Melton. Two of Melton's friends had just died and his wife was diagnosed with breast cancer. Puckett was trying to cheer him up.
"I just wanted to get him up and let him feel what I feel every time I fly," Puckett said.
"It had a profound impact on me," said Melton, the senior pastor at Greenwood Community Church near Denver. "Flying at 500 feet you could actually see people. You get a sense of the vastness, but you also get a sense of the human connection. It is like a God's-eye view."
The flight inspired Melton to fellow pastors to experience the same airborne inspiration.
"It occurred to me-- wouldn't it be cool if we could get these guys into the helicopter?"
That was the start of what soon became a kind of informal flying ministry.
Once a week, pastors—and soon business owners and politicians—started coming together every Monday morning to fly in the helicopter over the city of Denver.
On one flight someone pulled out a bible and began to pray, so Puckett dubbed the helicopter "Prayer One."
Puckett has built successful careers in the oil and gas and aviation industries, and is something of a philanthropist.
He donates all the flight time. For passengers, the flights are free.
To fill seats on "Prayer One" flights, Puckett and Melton turned to Jude Del Hierro. He runs Confluence Ministries in Denver, aimed at bringing together people of different faiths.
"It's very diverse. And very eclectic. It could be business people, government people, ministry leaders and pastors," Del Hierro said. "It's really just a great experience. It's a great way to see the city in another perspective."
Sometimes, "Prayer One" flights are designed to reach at-risk youth, like the ones in Adrian Sandoval's flock.
Sandoval— himself a former gang member who goes by the nickname "Age"— runs "Tha Myx" ministry in Sun Valley, one of Denver's poorest and most dangerous neighborhoods.
Walking the streets one day, he comes across an abandoned van that serves as a metaphor for Sun Valley's trouble. It's covered in gang graffiti.
"As you can tell we've got gang warfare going on," said Sandoval. "In this community we have five rival gangs."
It's so tough to escape this neighborhood that Age calls Sun Valley an urban cell block.
So for the next "Prayer One" flight, he's reaching out to invite young men in his flock to fly, hoping to give them a rare chance to literally rise above.
One of them is Mat Ortega. He's in his early 20s and used to run with a violent Denver street gang. Jail has been a frequent stop. As he walks through a Denver park, the memories of his violent past are vivid.
"I've been attacked by a lot of people here and I've attacked a lot of people here," Ortega said.