Charity Helicopter Rides in a Robinson R44
with Philip Greenspun from East Coast Aero Club; updated April 2010
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This page explains the offer of a sightseeing helicopter ride in a
Robinson R44 with Philip Greenspun, one of the pilots and instructors
at East Coast Aero Club, to be auctioned for charity.
Your pilot (and auction donor) is Philip Greenspun, who holds an FAA
Airline Transport Pilot certificate with multi-engine, single-engine
seaplane, and helicopter ratings. Greenspun has more than 3500 hours
of flying experience including trips from Boston to Alaska (twice),
Mexico, the Caribbean, Labrador-Newfoundland, and back. He has flown
50-seat regional jets for a U.S. airline. Born in 1963, Greenspun
studied engineering at MIT, receiving bachelor's, master's, and a PhD
in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from that school.
Greenspun is also an FAA-certified flight instructor and teaches
airplane flying, instrument flying, and helicopter flying at East Coast
Aero Club at Hanscom Field in Bedford, Massachusetts.
We will be flying in a Robinson R44
helicopter. This is a simple modern 4-seat helicopter with
excellent visibility through a large Plexiglas bubble. This is the
world's best-selling helicopter, with hundreds coming off the assembly
line in Torrance, California every year.
Where we go once airborne
Taking off from Hanscom Field in Bedford, MA we fly over the Revolutionary War
battlefields of Lexington and reverse Paul Revere's horse's steps back
towards Boston over Route 2. We will pass the Mormon Temple and
continue in to West Cambridge where we will fly down the Charles River,
surrounded by Harvard College on our left and Harvard Business School on
our right. We'll continue down the river to the Massachusetts Institute
of Technology, then make a U-turn just past the Museum of Science to fly
over Beacon Hill, the Massachusetts State House, Boston Common, and the
Public Garden. We will continue over Beacon Street through Back Bay,
below the Hancock and Prudential skyscrapers. At the Fenway Park
baseball stadium, we'll turn left to give everyone a good look at where
the Red Sox play, then over the Museum of Fine Arts and back around the
tall buildings of Back Bay and downtown Boston. We'll come around the
waterfront, seeing the Boston Harbor Hotel (the one with the hole in the
middle), Quincy Market, the New England Aquarium, the North End, the
USS Constitution, and the Bunker Hill Monument. We'll begin our trip
back to the airport by flying over the Zakim Bridge.
How many people can fly
There are three empty seats in the R44 but we are limited to about 450
lbs. for passengers and baggage. Usually that means the pilot plus two
adults or one adult and two children. One of the ways that the
helicopter achieves high speeds and reasonable efficiency is by being
very small. The interior is smaller than an old Volkswagen Beetle and
is not a comfortable place for for very large people, though a 6'2"-tall
person can sit in the front.
I'm not a daredevil and the Robinson is not certified for aerobatics.
We won't be doing loops or any scary abrupt maneuvers. We will be
flying during the daytime in good weather and taking off and landing
only at Hanscom Field, a vast open space cleared of obstacles. We will
be talking to FAA air traffic controllers either at Hanscom or at
Boston Logan Airport for the entire flight.
To the charity
If the underbid is at least $700, feel free to "split the donation" and
sell a second ride to the underbidder. (To be concrete, if Joe Smith is
the highest bidder at $750 and Mary Jones is the next highest bidder at
$700, you take $750 from Joe and $700 from Mary and I give both of them
Our standard rate for this flight is $199 per person, so you can put
down the value of the donation at $597.
Winners can contact me directly via the email address at the bottom of
To my fellow pilots and helicopter owners
If you would like to use this page as a model for your own Web site,
please feel free to do so with hyperlink credit back to
Text and photos Copyright 2006-2010 Philip
Greenspun. Photo at top right
by Ellis Vener.