Helicopter Flight Schools

recommended by Philip Greenspun, updated September 2009

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Here is a list of schools where I have trained and can recommend the ships and the instructors: If you are coming from Europe or Asia and want to be sure of completing a rating during a two-week trip, for example, it is best to choose a school with an on-staff examiner (like East Coast Aero Club!).

Another option is simply to buy an R22 or R44 and dig up a private instructor. If you get an R44, the local instructors will be knocking on your door begging for a chance to teach you!

Robinson Factory School

Even before you get your Private rating, sign up for the Robinson CFI/Safety Course at the Robinson factory in Torrance, California. This course is required by many insurance companies before you can carry passengers in a rental R22. The waiting list can stretch out as far as 9 months, so it is important to sign up well in advance. The course itself includes a fascinating section on maintenance by Pat Cox, a flight of between 1.2 and 1.4 hours in which lots of different kinds of autorotations are done. I recommend that you sign up to fly in an R44 even if you have no experience in the aircraft; the flight goes by so quickly that it is hard to say exactly what you've learned, so you might as well have the R44 time and the touchdown autorotations that can be done in the R44 only.

The factory safety course does include a lot of nuggets of useful information that are tough to find in other places, but it is a shame that there are not more written materials to review after class. Furthermore, there is not much rigor when it comes to aerodynamics. Given the five-day time commitment (3.5 days of class plus travel), a lot more knowledge could be transmitted.

Text and photos (if any) Copyright 2003-8 Philip Greenspun.