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Helicopters and Superyachts

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Helicopters and Superyachts

Old 30th Oct 2010, 13:27
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Helicopters and Superyachts

Yacht helicopters and helicopter tenders represent a small but interesting element of executive helicopter operations.

Of yacht-borne helicopter owners two of the most well known are Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen and Roman Abramovich who, between them, own a tidy selection of yachts and associated helicopters.


MD900 asigned to the MY Meduse

MD902 N906AF ascribed to the MY Tatoosh

S76C N76AF assigned to the largest of Allen's vessels, the MY Octopus

Rear quarter view of the MY Octopus

N76AF departs Octopus

N76AF departs Octopus while moored in Reykjavik harbour


Aruban registered EC135 assigned to the MY Ecstasea

EC145 aboard MY Pelorus

Luxembourg registered EC155 now P4-HEC

The MY Pelorus

The 'Abramovich's Navy' as it is often referred to also includes the MY Sussurro which is utilised as a 'guest' ship and the MY 'Le Grand Bleu' which he presented as a gift to his longtime friend Eugene Shvidler.

The 'Abramovich Navy' has a recent edition in the form of the MY Eclispse which currently ranks as the world's largest private yacht being some 11 meters longer than the MY Dubai.

Last edited by Savoia; 25th Nov 2013 at 16:22. Reason: Remove broken picture link
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Old 31st Oct 2010, 19:01
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Cheers, all very interesting since I like helicopters and boats. I hear though it can be rather boring for a pilot.
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Old 1st Nov 2010, 18:10
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Depends how you look at it, but from what I hear the pilots complained that they could not fly enough hrs to be safe....

Golden cage...

No complaints from me about the pictures though keep them coming

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Old 2nd Nov 2010, 15:16
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I am loving your views from another planet. Great pics. Very interesting stuff.

It's colour-matching the "yacht" with the helicopter that must take so much time!

Nice to see how small an S76 can appear when landed on the stern of a small dinghy.
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Old 2nd Nov 2010, 19:34
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M.Y. Princess Mariana

Well, it seems as if there may be about four of us who are interested in helicopters and yachts - I supposed its enough to continue with. Just one other person would have been fine with me, lol!

Firstly on the matter of boredom. Yes, if you are recruited full time to fly two weeks in summer and another two in the winter then you're going to get fed up pretty quickly but, the number of scenarios where this is the case are few and far between to the best of my knowledge.

What usually happens is one of the following:

Many yacht owners simply charter helicopters from the locations they cruise and, given that the routine for the vast majority of large yacht owners is the Med in summer and the Caribbean in winter, there are no shortage of operators on hand to provide this service. St.Tropez, Nice and Monaco all serve this market along the magical Côte d'Azur.

Where the owner feels that he needs his own flying tender, the two most common solutions are that the rotorcraft is either placed with an operator near the yacht's normal home port when not engaged in yacht operations or, that the rotorcraft is utilised by the owner for onshore operations in between yachting assignments.

In the case of Allen and Ambramovich; Allen's helicopters tend to stay fairly close to his yachts whereas Abramovich's aircraft are deployed all over Europe on an almost endless routine supporting not only the 'Abramovich Navy' but also the European interests of Abramovich's business empire.

With regard to yacht helicopter operations specifically it would be wonderful if an experienced yacht-helicopter pilot could enlighten us with first hand information of some of the details involved.

On the matter of colour coding between yachts and their helicopters - yes, this is crucial! Many 'Yopters' also wear the vessel's name in much the same way as water borne tenders.

The MY Princess Mariana owned by Mexican telecoms mogul Carlos Peralta. Just above the waterline you will observe a discreet double stripe in pale turquoise. The same double stripe is repeated in scale on the on-board EC130. As stated before, this colour coordinating is most important in yacht-helicopter operations.

Still lots more information, photos and videos to come and which I shall drip feed into the thread along the way!


Last edited by Savoia; 23rd Jul 2011 at 06:44.
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Old 14th Nov 2010, 14:25
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M.Y. Kingdom 5-KR

Continuing the theme of Yacht Helicopters and before this slips into obscurity .. G-REEM and the MY Kingdom 5-KR:

MY Kingdom 5-KR

G-REEM aboard Kingdom 5-KR

As JimBall mentioned earlier, getting the yacht/helicopter paint schemes sorted out is crucial.
Here REEM wears Kingdom's colours and also sports the yacht's name across her rear door:

REEM aboard the 282ft Benetti built 'Kingdom 5-KR' owned by Kingdom Group Chairman Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal, nephew to King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia. (Photo: Roberto Benetti)

This vessel was formely the MY 'Nabila' owned by Saudi businessman Adnan Khashoggi. While in Khashoggi's possession the yacht was hired by Warner Bros. during the filming of the Bond movie 'Never Say Never Again' (1983) where she appeared as the 'Flying Saucer'. When Khashoggi had her built (1980) she was the world's largest private yacht.

Khashoggi (who is a long time resident of Monaco) had another daughter (Petrina) from his former English wife Sandra Daly who took the name Soraya Khashoggi, however after some query by Adnan over his daughter's appearance and, more specifically after DNA testing, it was discovered that Petrina was in fact the daughter of Jonathan Aitkin. (And I thought we Italians were bad!).

These are just some of the things that yacht helicopter pilots need to be aware of during their discourse with employers!


Last edited by Savoia; 23rd Jul 2011 at 06:43. Reason: photos
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Old 15th Nov 2010, 00:16
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I take it Kingdom lives permanently at that mooring, I am only asking since I noticed her there over the last 8 ish years, or was I just lucky in my three visits to the south of France?
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Old 25th Nov 2010, 09:31
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Thanks for this thread, the Monaco Heliport is on my to-do list in terms of to-visit, to-fly into at some point soon.From the pictures I've surfed on Airliners.net and looking at the great websites of Heli-Air Monaco, Monacair and Heli-Securitie...surely is a beautiful place.

Anyhow quick question and that is from what I've seen its mainly EC-130B4/155/120B/AS-355/MD-600/900 or S-76 on decks but haven't seen anything such as Bell 407 or 206L4 on a yacht let alone at Monaco.

Last edited by chopper2004; 26th Nov 2010 at 14:27.
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Old 25th Nov 2010, 10:10
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I hope, in due course, that one or more yacht helicopter pilots will drop in and give us some first hand stories regarding their operations.

If you are going to drop into Monte Carlo perhaps you might PM BobF who recently joined the Rotorheads community, is resident there, and flys with the Aero Club de Monaco.

Regarding aircraft brands along the Côte d'Azur - I'm not sure if I need to go into too much explanation here. We Italians are fairly proud of our food and Ferrari's but for the French pride is as essential as oxygen!

Not only do the bulk of the world's socialites, celebrities and politicans who visit France make their way (eventually) to the south but most of the French Cabinet are to be found there in August along with a vast number of Brits and, of course, the yachting crowd which nows includes numerous Russians.

The French see it as their duty to display their hardware to the point that were any of the companies along the Côte d'Azur to start using 'foreign' products to any noticeable extent - the government might just issue a decree to the effect that those who visit the French Riviera in France must be flown in a French aircraft and preferably by French pilots!

Heli Air Monaco did operate 206Ls but these were swiftly replaced by the Ecureuil as the company grew and I mentioned somewhere else on Rotorheads that one of Colin Chapman's first sponsors, Monaco resident David Thieme of Essex Oil, had a beautiful LongRanger (on the French register and which I think may have been F-BOAK). However, as a resident of France (or any neighbouring territory) to buy a Bell is now seen as eccentric!

Last edited by Savoia; 25th Nov 2013 at 16:25.
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Old 25th Nov 2010, 12:43
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Cheers for that much appreciated

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Old 30th Nov 2010, 18:11
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I have read that the first ever S-76 has been entered on the Swiss register (HB-ZMS) and that this is a helicopter for a yacht!

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Old 30th Nov 2010, 19:37
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M.Y. Lady Moura

YBB: HB-ZMS was previously VP-BIR, an S76B, and was the helicopter tender to MY Lady Moura owned by Saudi businessman Nasser Al-Rashid.

However, she was replaced last year by an S76C++ which, as with all Al-Rashid's aircraft (including his Gulfstream fleet), is on the Bermudan register - in this case VP-CYS.

There are only a handful of yachts with dedicated S76 tenders. Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen's MY Octopus (already discussed on this thread) is one of them and Al-Rashid's Lady Moura (named after his first wife) is another. Another contender for the S76-class tender would be the MY Dubai but, we shall save that story for a future post!

The Lady Moura is approx. 350ft in length, cost in excess of USD 200m and maintains a compliment of 60 full-time crew. She was constructed by the German shipyard Blohm+Voss but her styling (both interior and exterior) was the work of renown Italian maritime architect Luigi Sturchio.

Some of the more well know features of the Lady M is that the vessel's name (appearing at the stern as well as on both facias) is made out of solid gold, she has a retractable roof section and a 59ft dining table designed by the British Viscount Lindley.

The MY Lady Moura with her former Yopter S76B VP-BIR on board

Lady M equipped with her current Yopter S76C++ VP-CYS. Sorry JimL, non-standard helideck markings (again)

Nasser Al-Rashid's S76C++ dedicated helicopter tender for the largest of his yachts the Lady Moura. The aircraft wears the owners initials on its tailfin and yes, JimBall, is painted in colours which match the ship

The Lady M follows a fairly well-established routine of cruising the Côte d'Azur in summer (with Monaco as her home port) and the regions surrounding Palma de Mallorca during the winter months. While she is based at Port Hercule Monaco she can't actually fit in the port but must use the quay normally reserved for cruise liners


Last edited by Savoia; 23rd Jul 2011 at 06:42.
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Old 1st Dec 2010, 13:18
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I always liked the MY Lady M.

Dubai is using the AW 139s from what I have been told last. With the odd EC365 N3 thrown in.
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Old 25th Feb 2011, 16:15
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MV Attessa III

Continuing our review of yachts with helicopters we look at the MV Attessa III.

This vessel is the personal yacht of Dennis Washington the Montana-based industrialist and philanthropist and majority owner of the Washington Companies.

Attessa was developed by Feadship with the assistance of De Voogt naval architects. Her interior was conceived by the British designer Andrew Winch. She is a 225ft steel and aluminium displacement motor yacht powered by twin 2,000hp Caterpillar diesels.

Washington has since commissioned a new vessel, Attessa IV, and which might perhaps be the subject of another post.

Attessa spends much of her life along the Western seaboard of the United States but also frequents the Caribbean and Europe.

With her helicopter tender aboard

Attessa utilises an EC130B4 painted in colours matching the ship and replete with the vessel's name on her tail

65WC on-board

65WC delivers a guest to the ship

Just to put things in perspective, Attessa (centre) is a relatively small yacht compared with some of her contemporaries

65WC lands on-board Attessa while she is moored at Marina Del Ray

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Old 31st Mar 2011, 07:42
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A small sampling of fast boats with their rotary-wing companions - usually deployed in the filming/photography role.

Have many more images of a similar nature which I might be able to drop into the thread over time.

Those of you who can reacll the 80's TV series 'Miami Vice' will doubtless remember one of the lead characters, Don Johnson. Johnson is a keen powerboater (great fun by the way and if you haven't yet given it a go then I thoroughly recommend it) and used to employ an Agusta 109A Mk II to trail him during his competitions. The craft carried two rescue divers fully suited-up ready to be dropped in the water in the event that their fearless leader required assistance.

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Old 17th Jul 2011, 08:46
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Yacht Review: M.Y. Samar


The MY Samar 'steams' the south coast of the UK where she was both designed and built

The M.Y. Samar is a 2150 tonne, 77 metre, twin-screw, steel and aluminium motor displacement yacht. She is powered by three 2414hp Wärtsilä diesel engines capable of pushing her at around 14 kts (cruise).

She was launched in 2006 and is owned by the Kuwaiti businessman Kutayba Alghanim whose interests include Kuwait's Gulf Bank as well as the family's trading conglomerate Alghanim Industries; a group of 30 retailing, manufacturing, advertising and shipping businesses. Alghanim's father founded the group in 1932 and later became first person to introduce American cars to Kuwait through a deal with General Motors.

Samar, so named after Alghanim's daughter, has been associated with two aircraft, both serving as on-board tenders and both being Bell 407's. Respectively N407MS ('MS' signifying the Motor Yacht Samar) and N477KA ('KA' being the owner's initials). Both aircraft sport blue tones reflecting similar colours just visible above Samar's waterline. 'KA' additionally wears the yacht's name on her tail.

Registered in the Cayman Islands (George Town), Samar enjoys a diverse sailing repertoire across a diversity of principally European locations.

N407MS rests atop Samar's helideck in Bergen, Norway

'KA' with her covers on

Samar's helideck

Rear deck with 'KA' aboard

'KA' departing Samar while moored in the Port of Amsterdam
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Old 19th Jul 2011, 22:17
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Many thanks Savoia sharing more photos of those pair of Bell 407 very much appreciated.

Have you seen the MV Atmosphere with its pair of red Bell 407 in your neck of the woods or any high resolution shots?

Thanks again
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Old 21st Jul 2011, 06:42
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Yacht Review: M.V. Atmosphere

The expedition yacht 'Atmosphere' rests at anchor in an isolated corner of Chile's breathtakingly beautiful Patagonia region while one of her aerial tenders departs in pursuit of high adventure

The M.V. Atmosphere is a 695 tonne, 45 metre, twin-screw, steel and aluminium motor displacement yacht powered by two 838hp Cummins diesel engines.

She was launched in 2006 and is owned by Andres Ergas, proprietor of Nomads of the Seas, the travel company which promotes Atmosphere's year-round adventures offering some of the world's finest fly fishing, wildlife observation and powder skiing.

Unlike the previous yachts described on this thread, Atmosphere is an expedition (as opposed to luxury) yacht and, if I was to serve in the role of a 'yopter' (yacht-helicopter) pilot, then I think that to be assigned to a vessel such as Atmosphere would be considerably more interesting than the obligatory two weeks per year spent on-board a luxury yacht ferrying guests and shopping to and fro! (A simplification of the routine I know).

Andres Ergas asserts that fishing and nature have been his lifelong passions and which have led him to the Chilean Patagonia where Atmosphere now trawls some of the "greatest and most amazing places on earth."

The yacht, which can be hired by the week or booked on a per person basis, sails at night coming to anchor in bays and fiords throughout the length of Patagonia. She sleeps 28 guests in 14 cabins and is equipped with an array of 'toys' and amenities including: speed boats (for para-gliding), zodiacs, jet skis, kayaks, scuba gear, gym, sauna, jacuzzis and more.

Over and above Atmosphere's numerous comforts is her exclusive Patagonian cuisine served by renown Chilean chef, Guillermo Rodríguez, president of the Chilean chapter of Les Toques Blanches and who ensures that guests will "encounter a gastronomic experience of memorable magnitude." One can easily imagine that these delicacies are accompanied by a sublime selection of Chilean wines (of doubtless interest to VFR!).

What sets Nomads apart from other operators is their ability to penetrate the heart of Patagonia. This is what had brought us more than 10,000 miles to one of the most pristine environments on earth. Patagonia, which is split between Chile and Argentina, stretches almost 1,000 miles southwards from Puerto Montt and provides a constantly changing vista of fascination and beauty.

The seas positively explode with life, from the tiniest of krill and other shellfish to sea-lions, penguins, dolphins and whales. Steamer ducks, four varieties of cormorant, turkey vultures, the occasional albatross and the caracara (an indigenous falcon) all helped to create a birdwatching nirvana too.
But, what we are of course interested in are Atmosphere's aerial toys which, in this case, take the form of two Bell 407's CC-PTU and CC-CXT. These craft, adorned in their distinctive red and gold livery, are responsible for transporting Atmosphere's guests to the scene of their adventures including: wildlife watching, fly-fishing, heli-skiing/boarding and heli-dining.

By comparison with the first image (above) it is obvious to see that Atmosphere received modifications to her superstructure involving the extension of her helideck in order to accommodate two aircraft

Atmosphere's two red and gold Bell 407's parked line astern on the vessel's helideck

CC-CXT departs with a batch of Atmosphere's guests

CC-PTU surrounded by satisfied customers enjoying the experience of remote area fly-fishing

PTU drops off more fly-fishing clients. Both aircraft wear the company name on their nose and upper-cowlings as well as the vessel's name beneath the windows of the rearward facing seats

Preparing for departure

One of Atmosphere's pilots talks with the vessel's helideck crew

Heli-boarding is big business among Atmosphere's guests

Anyone for Patagonian crab?

Heli-dining across the unique scenery of Patagonia features large among the itinerary of Atmosphere's guests

One of atmosphere's Bell 407's lifts-off from the vessel's helideck against a backdrop of dramatic cloud formations

Helicopter pilot Francisco made a quick announcement. 'Is everyone up for a low-level pass of the ship? If you are, I need to see all six hands up!' Six arms were immediately raised. And, with no further ado, our Bell 407 roared down to wave level and completed a high speed fly-by of our seagoing home, the MV Atmosphere.

Without realising it, Francisco had set the most exquisite exclamation mark on a week of Patagonian perfection. We had embarked in Puerto Montt, 28 intrepid travellers ready for adventure but unsure what to expect from this voyage into one of the world's most desolate wildernesses.

PTU departs the ship on an early evening sortie

Nomads of the Seas promotional video

Chopper 2004 wrote: Have you seen the MV Atmosphere with its pair of red Bell 407 in your neck of the woods or any high resolution shots?
Yes, in fact Atmosphere was included in the small sampling of images I posted on page 2 in response to your initial query about shipborne 407's. This post is a more complete response. Regarding sighting Atmosphere in Genoa, Venice or any other Italian port, I might just choke on my Bellini if that were to happen, for while she is technically available for worldwide charter she is now so deeply ensconced in her Patagonian routine that is it hard to imagine seeing her elsewhere!

Regarding high res images yes, I have seven, and if you will PM me your email address I shall gladly forward them.
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Old 22nd Jul 2011, 09:10
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This morning, port of Hvar, island Hvar, Adriatic sea, 9A Croatia

M/Y SAMAR is a 77m (252 foot) steel-and-aluminum Laurent Giles designed luxury motor yacht with studio and interior styling by Joe Thome. She was built and launched by Devonport Yachts of England in 2006. Yacht SAMAR is a very large and luxurious charter yacht which features almost everything that can be offered on a private motor yacht. SAMAR has a helipad, a large Jacuzzi pool, an open bar, large deck areas, a side garage, as well as a movie theater. The luxury yacht is capable of extended global cruising, with a range of 6,000 nautical miles and cold storage provisions for 44 people (including crew).
Bell 407
cn 53849
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Old 22nd Jul 2011, 22:12
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That EC130 landing in Post #14 seemed a bit overly cautious with a lot of time spent in the avoid curve. I think they need to get a few tunaboat pilots involved. Straight in, no messing. They might spill a few sherrys in the back, though!

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