I have been contemplating for several years adding a helicopter rating to my pilots’ license. I live just a few blocks from the Johnson County Executive Airport (KOJC) where there is a small part 61 helicopter training school. In 2003 I took a discovery flight with Jesse Sherwood, owner and flight instructor for Executive Helicopter Solutions. He is a flight instructor with tons of credentials including: Gold Seal CFI, FAA 2004 Flight Instructor of the Year, and NAFI Master CFI. He has tons of experience in Robinson Helicopters and let me tell you the ride was AWESOME! I have been a pilot for almost 6 years now and the sensation you get when you takeoff in a helicopter is truly amazing! I will have to put together a blog entry sometime about that discovery flight — truly awesome!
Read about my evaluation of purchasing vs renting a Robinson R22 after the jump.
One thing that has kept me from getting my license since that introduction flight in 2003 was the huge cost of helicopter rental. With rental rates $200/hr range, I had a hard time justifying the expense of adding that rating. I’ve read a lot of books on helicopter flying, but unless I can instruct in the helicopter (or come across a huge inheritance to at least get started), it was looking grim.
Last night unable to sleep, I had a “light bulb” moment — maybe I can buy a Robinson R22 and use it for training — then when finished I can keep the helicopter! As I began working on a spreadsheet, I needed some key figures including insurance costs etc. Two hours later, after working the numbers every way I could think possible, I decided that renting the R22 would be about the same cost. Renting that R22 would be much easier then purchasing one in my situation unless I found a good partner or two. Insurance is huge. Unless you have a lot of time in helicopters expect to pay about $10,000/year in hull/liability insurance. If anyone has any other (legal) ways they financed a R22 (especially for training), please let me know. Oh well. Back to bed I went…
Update 04-2007: The numbers change quite a bit if you calculate operating cost for training then selling after, say, year 5. I’ve had several people also email me and said that Pathfinder Insurance in the Bahamas will insure for between $6,000 and $8,500. Philip Greenspun’s review of his 2005 Robinson R22 says the same thing.
Update 09-2007: I’ve made a post here with some sample cost calculations.