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.