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.

The Instructor/Donor

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.

The Helicopter

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.

Sample Photos

fenway park



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 rides.)

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 this page.

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.