Looking for a helicopter

I’ve been wanting a flying machine for quite a while now. A few days ago I found a 1966 Hughes 269A/TH-55 helicopter on barnstormers.com for $51,500. Not too bad, considering a new Schweizer 300CB (basically the same thing) goes for something like $200,000. I e-mailed the guy and got the component times and overhaul/replacement times. The bad news is that the expensive rotot blades only have 480 hours left on them. But that’s still a lot of flying.

I saw an article in Plane & Pilot magazine that said many aircraft ar real bargains, monthly payment-wise. 10% down and financing up to 20 years. Okay, this is not looking too bad. I called MBNA today. Ugh. They’ll only finance helicopters for 10 years, and the interest rate is 9.24%; plus they require 20% down. I can “buy” up to four “points”, so for a payment of about $11,000 my monthly payments would be $483 for 10 years. Basically I’d be paying about 50% of the financed price in interest. Not looking quite as good now, but do-able.

Next I called AOPA for an insurance quote. Uh-oh. Helicopters cost more to insure than airplanes. One guy got $80,000 insurance on an R-22 for a premium of $13,000/year. Och! I canna stand the rape o’ me purse! But the R-22 has an undeserved reputation for being easy to crash (there was even a special FAR about it), and I have a couple more hours than that guy. Plus the hull coverage is much less. I’ll have to wait about a week to get a quote.

I don’t know if I’ll be able to swing it. I can cover the purchase price of course, but damn that insurance is a killer! And I wouldn’t be allowed to use it commercially. For that I’d have to get much-more-expensive commercial insurance. Aiyiyi.

Why does it cost 20% of the value of the aircraft (I’m guessing here) for insurance? Pretty outrageous, says I. General Aviation is struggling (compared to the 1960s and 1970s). Insurance premiums are a pretty big obstacle to ownership. It seems to me that if insurance rates were lower, more people would buy aircraft and there would be a larger base to pay for the rare crash.

Realistically, I’d be better off getting a Cessna. It goes 50% faster, carries twice the people, has almost twice the range, is cheaper to maintain, and is much more practical. But helicopters are just so much fun!

It’s a sad state of affairs when you have to be rich just to own a two-seat helicopter. :frowning:

Have you looked at kits?

How strictly does your FS/DO enforce the 51% rule?

and, if you want to go fixed-wing, start:


it currently has a series on a Rotorway 162F construction

I’ve considered the Rotorway, but I think the kit costs something like $60,000 – more than the Hughes – and you have to put it together yourself. Also, as a kit aircraft, it can’t be used commercially. I suspect the insurance costs would be pretty high too.

Johnny, if it’s a financial strain to do it for the personal account, perhaps you can think of a way to make it a business venture?

All the best!

What is that supposed to mean? That you can sell it later for more than you bought it? That compared to the dollar amount, the monthly payments will be less for an aircraft than for a car or a house in the same price range? Maybe so, but don’t you have to pay storage fees for the aircraft and/or additional expenses that you won’t have for a house or a car?
Not trying to discourage you, it would be great to own your private helicopter, but how many stories have you heard of people buying a boat and then trying to get rid of it just a few years later?

On the other hand, if you do buy it, I’ll finally take you up on that helicopter ride offer.

Look up!

A buddy of mine took on a partner, and between them they own three Hughes 269A’s and a Cesna 172. They make the payments and premiums by flying power-line and real estate survey afternoons and weekends. Of course, they both have day jobs, too (My buddy works for the same consulting firm as I do. In fact, a lot of my fellow consultants are pilots for some reason… :p).

Maybe if you took a partner…?

I hear you on the parts beef… Dan just flew to central Michigan to find a new shaft for one of the eggbeaters. A new one was US$10,000, but he also found a used one with 1000 hours left for US$2,000. He’s always scrounging for parts.

Arnold: By “bargain”, I mean that the monthly payments are very low. For example, you can get a used Cessna 172 for about $250/month.

Tranquilis: What I really need to do is get my commercial certificate so that I can make moeny with the helicopter. (Of course, that would increase the insurance rates, as I mentioned before.) It’s hard to schedule a heli though, because they’re either booked well in advance or they’re down for maintenance. Re: your friends. Sometimes it seems that it’s “cheaper” to own several aircraft (or houses, or other revenue makers) than just one.

For the past few years, I’ve had a dream: an ultralight built almost entirely from components found in the trash.

Sure I know othing about aerodynamics, welding, engineering or most of the other things I’d need to know. I saw this as an obstacle, but not one I couldn’t overcome.

I never thought about insurance.
“Hi! I’m an unemployed man on psychiatric drugs. I’d like to get some insurance for the ultralight aircraft I made from junk.”

So my dream is cancelled due to lack of funds.
The frown smiley is too cute to express what I’m feeling now.

It seems Austrailia is grabbing up most of the new Hughes 269a/TH-55a construction… Dan tells me that something like 70% of all new examples (roughtly 21 aircraft per year) are being bought by some company in Oz. New Zealand also seems to have a large market for such beasties. Maybe you’d like to relocate…?

Tranq: If they’re new, they’d be Schweizer 300Cs and 300CBs. I’ve always wanted to go to Australia…

Ah, who am I kidding? I’m trying to get out of the constant sunshine and hot weather!

It seems the Austrailans like to use helicopters (especially the “Robbo”) for cattle herding. That looks like fun.

Yesterday I got a packet from Robinson that includes operating costs:

Fixed annual costs:
R22 Beta II with Aux fuel, Heater, COM, GPS & Transponder: $169,270
Depreciation “(Negligible, freshly overhauled R22s typically sell for more than their original cost.)”: N/A
Liability insurance (Private Owner w/150 R22 Hours & RHC Safety Course): $1,360
Hull insurance (Private Owner w/150 R22 Hours & RHC Safety Course): $4,559
Total: $5,919

Reserve for overhaul:
2200 hour engine overhaul ($14,500 RHC exchange): $6.59
2200 hour aircraft overhaul parts kit ($56,000): $25.45
Labor (180 manhours @$55/hour): $36.54
Total reserve per hour: $36.54

Direct operating cost:
Fuel @ $2.00/gal and 8.0 gph: $16.00
Oil: $0.40
Periodic inspections, labor @ $55/hr: $6.60
Unscheduled maintenance, parts & labor @ $55/hr: $4.30
Direct operating cost per hour: $27.30

Total operating costs
Fixed cost per flight hour based on 500 hours per year: $11.84
Overhaul reserve per hour: $36.54
Direct cost per flight hour: $27.30
Total operating cost per hour: $75.68

That comes out to $37,840 per year to fly 500 hours. To fly that much I’d have to either have to use it in business (like flying pipeline or powerline patrols) or for instruction. But that means higher insurance, which increases the operating costs. Of course I could deduct the expenses from my taxes…

DocCathode: I don’t know if insurance is required on ultralights. They don’t require a license. Never looked into it.

Schweizer 300’s then. I’m not a rotorhead, I just talk to them when I can (when we’re on the same gig). :wink:

Well, Junkyard Wars has done hang gliders, so it is doable. An ultralight really isn’t much more than a hang glider with a motor attached.

Just make sure to spend more than 10 hours building it, and you should be OK :slight_smile:

Tranq: Actually, the Schweizer’s type certificate still says 269. The 300CB is really a 269C-1.

Helis are so cool. :cool:

You are already aware of the lease-back option - the operator takes care of at least some of the insurance, maintentance.

Plus, it becomes a revenue-producer, so it’s cost can be depreciated on your taxes.

a R-22 would be welcome at many flight schools (do you have a CFI? - package deal!).

check with a tax advisor, then run the numbers, using capital depreciation (and - always rent it out WET - a couple of gallons of fluids is cheap engine preventative maintenance)

happyheathen: No CFI(H) yet. I still need to get my commercial rating. Unlike fixed-wing ground school, you can’t just pop down to the local community college and take a ground school course. Bob and Martha King have a helicopter supplement to their commercial course, but it’s just sort of “tacked on”. That means self-study or paying $30/hour for one-on-one ground school instruction. The flying is easy. The sitting down and doing the book work is hard.

In any case… R-22 or 269A? An R-22 costs at twice as much as the 269A. “Everybody” uses Robbos, and I think that a 269A would offer renters an option to fly something else. The 269A is roomier; in the R-22 my shoulder is hunched up on the rare occasions I’ve flown with a door. And I like the electric trim. Also, I’ve actually seen an employment ad that specified “No R-22 time.” (Indicating not that the applicant must not have flown an R-22, but that the time in an R-22 would not count toward the number required by the job.) The 269A can be maintained in the field as time limits are reached, rather than having to go back to the factory to have everything done at once. The 269A can carry heavier pilots/passengers than the R-22. It just looks so groovy!

On the other hand… The R-22 handles better. I ran into a marine CH-53 Super Stallion pilot when I was in training. He said R-22s scared the hell out of him. “Squirrely.” His friend, a SeaCobra pilot, said he liked the R-22 because it’s “nimble”. I lean toward “nimble”, myself. I’ve never had as good an autorotation in a 300CB as I’ve had in a Robbo. The R-22 has stowage under the seats large enough for a couple of small picnic bags. The R-22 is faster. It has a rotor brake. It just looks so sexy!

Anyone wanna buy a classic Willys? A vintage Submariner? Movie cameras? It’s all gotta add up to something