helicopter selection

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I have been a SEL pilot since 1972 but am thinking about buying a
helicopter for use in getting to and from a cabin in mountains at an
elevation of 7500 feet in Arizona. I thought I would come here and
get some feedback on whether anyone with knowledge on the subject
could tell me if I am crazy or offer some advice on which helicopter
would be the best choice. I would be flying light, me and a 35 pound
dog (copilot)

-- chris gregory, August 28, 2011



I would defintley not go any smaller or cheaper than a Robinson R44 Raven II. The fuel is still relatively cheap, especially when you consider it doesn't burn nearly as much as a turbine engine and it has the ability to operate just fine at 7500 feet. The controls may get a little heavy if you are at max gross weight on a hot day and high DA, but if it's just you and your dog and the fuel to get there and back, you'll be just fine. The R44 also offers the flexability to carry up to 3 passengers with you back and forth to your cabin, something you will not find in any other piston powered aircraft that is relatively cheap to operate, maintain and own. You can pick up used R44's for a great price and the other value built into the R44 is that it holds it value very well. So if you decided in a year that things arn't working out, you could sell it for close to if not the same as what you bought it for depending on how much time you put on it. Enstrom's are also extremely safe and reliable helicopters but Enstrom does not have a ship comparable to the R44 regarding number of passengers and ease of maintenance. Google "Robinson R44 operating cost" and look for Greenspuns write up on the R44. I think that will answer a lot of your questions. If you are wanting a turbine engine helo, look at a used Bell 206 BIII Jet Ranger, or used MD-500. You can find some good ones with relatively good amount of time left on components for a little bit more than a new R44. Also, Robinson just came out with the R66, a turbine powered, 5 seat helicopter. The reviews sound pretty incredible and it would work perfect for your application at high altitude and high DA. The turbine engine performs so much better at altitude rather than a piston and Robinson specfically made the R66 to cater to it's customers who operate at hot temperature, high altitude's and high DA. Remember though, your pocket book will feel the difference in burn rate of fuel in a turbine as well as maintenance (schedule and unscheduled), oh and don't forget insurance which also cost's a bit more than insuring a piston powered helo. Hope this helps. If I were in your position, I would not hesitate to purchase a good used Robinson R44 Raven II and then move up to a used Robinson R66 in a couple of years.

-- Paul Matheson, September 2, 2011