Helicopters used for Flight Training
There are a wide range of Helicopter types used in flight training but the Robinson R-22, Robinson R-44, Schweizer 300 Cbi, Guimbal Cabri G2 and Enstrom 280 are some of the most popular among training schools. Any of these helicopters are good for new students but knowing the differences between the models can help you decide which model suits you. At Hummingbird Helicopters we offer the popular 2-seater Robinson R-22 and its 4-seater version the Robinson R-44.Which one will you choose?
Robinson R-22: The Mini (small, nimble, fun)
The Robinson R-22 helicopter is a reliable workhorse and economical to operate, making it one of the most popular helicopters in operation. The R22 was the first of the Robinson family to come into production in the late 1970s and quickly took the helicopter training market by storm. If you speak to a pilot, chances are they learned to fly on an R-22.
The R-22 is light with comparatively low inertia and is extremely responsive to flight control inputs, think of it as a Mini; fun to corner, nimble and quick off the mark, it’s a completely different experience to driving a Humvee.
Capt. Matthew Rake and Hummingbird Flight Instructors Alasdair Hutt and Andy Thompson, are all in agreement about how remarkably reliable and low-maintenance the R-22 helicopter is which adds to its appeal.
Beyond making our lives easier we still love to fly the R-22 because it’s fun to fly. The R-22 keeps you honest and on your toes, we like to say that if someone can fly an R-22, then they can fly anything.
The benefits of the R-22:
- Lower hourly training cost
- Highly manoeuvrable with good performance.
- Sensitive response which develops the very best handling skills.
- Simple helicopter with less complex systems.
- PPL Courses usually completed in slightly more hours.
The R22 Trial Lesson is a fantastic way to get an idea of what it’s like to be the pilot-in-command of a helicopter. The experience starts with a one-to-one 15-minute classroom brief covering the effects of the helicopter controls. You will then take to the skies where your instructor will let you practice on the dual controls – and at some point during the flight you will take control yourself.
Robinson R-44: The Humvee (big, fast, comfortable)
When you have completed your PPL(H) on the two-seater R-22, you may wish to upgrade to the larger R-44, the four-seater version of the R22. This is a 4 seater aircraft which gives you the flexibility to take three passengers and requires a short course to add the type to your private pilot’s licence.
The advantages of taking a Trial Lesson in an R-44 are its speed (up to 130 knots) and size. It can fly further than it’s little brother and with 4 seats it can accommodate 2 extra family members or friends who may wish to join you for the ride. They will be treated to a more stable ride with the R-44s hydraulic assist and extra weight meaning the R-44 handles similarly to the R-22 but is less ‘twitchy’ than the R-22.
Make the occasion extra special by adding a bottle of bubbly so you can celebrate in style when you land. The R-44 Trial Lesson is a great way to get to grips with the R-44 and decide whether it suits you.
The benefits of the R-44:
- More stable and less affected by wind which means that it’s quicker to learn on.
- Greater versatility when determining fuel versus passenger weights. Up to 3 passengers.
- Faster, up to 120 knots.
- Greater range – full tanks will get you about 2 hours 10 minutes’ flight time plus a sensible reserve.
- Higher Blade inertia gives slower RPM decay in the (incredibly rare) event of an engine failure, giving the pilot more time to make corrections.
- Hydraulic assist on controls make flying more relaxing.
- Suitable for students over 16 stone.
You can choose a Trial Lesson where you can have a go on the dual controls or an Introductory Flight where you can simply enjoy the experience and the fantastic views!
So Which Helicopter Should You Choose?
There are pros and cons with respect to both the R-22 and R-44. It could be worth calling our team to answer any questions you might have, and even having a trial lesson in each type of machine. However, in the long run, it does not make a big difference which you choose. Once you can fly, converting between different types of helicopter is relatively straightforward. You may wish to do this anyway, to get more experience under your belt and fly some commercial helicopters. Therefore the most important thing is to go out there and learn to fly; everything else is secondary. Have fun!