This page explains the offer of a introductory helicopter flying
lesson in a Robinson R44 with Philip Greenspun, to be auctioned for
Why do it?
If you haven't learned anything new for a few years, aviation will
exercise all of the dusty corners of your brain. Flying is a
tremendous challenge. After your lesson you'll be one of only a
handful of people in the world who can say "I flew a helicopter."
That would be you. You'll have your hands on the controls most of the
time. Hovering is too difficult for the average beginner, but most
people are able to control an airborne helicopter in climbs, descents,
Your teacher is Philip Greenspun, who holds an FAA Airline Transport
Pilot certificate with multi-engine airplane, single-engine seaplane,
and helicopter ratings. Greenspun has more than 3500 hours of flying
experience, including flying 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 an FAA-certified
flight instructor and, since 2005, has been teaching 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 right now, with hundreds coming off
the assembly line in Torrance, California every year. The particular
R44s that you'll fly were purchased factory-new in 2008 and 2009.
East Coast Aero Club was established in 1985 and has more than 35
aircraft. About 20 flight instructors are active at the club, and
most of us are experienced pilots who enjoy teaching.
Greenspun, the helicopters, and East Coast Aero Club are based at
Hanscom Field in Bedford, Massachusetts. This is near the
intersection of Rt. 128 (I-95) and Rt. 2, about 15 miles NW of
How it works
I'll email you some material to read prior to your first lesson. We'll
do about one hour of ground school and then run the helicopter about
20 minutes on the ground and in the air.
How many people can fly
Passengers don't usually appreciate a first-time pilot's efforts at
aircraft control, so we'll fly with the back seats empty (i.e., it
will be just you and the instructor).
helicopter accidents are due to bad weather, night flying, flying low
and hitting power lines, or trying to land in a friend's backyard
where there are a lot of trees and power lines obstructing the
approaches. We will be flying during the daytime in good weather and
taking off and landing only at Hanscom Field, which is a vast open
space that is kept clear of all obstacles.
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
East Coast Aero Club
charges between $225 and $400 for an intro lesson, so you can put that
down as the value of the donation.
Winners can contact me directly via the email address at the bottom of
this page or by calling 617-864-6832.