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Recreational pilots - why did you choose helicopter

Old 15th Mar 2020, 18:16
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Recreational pilots - why did you choose helicopter

Recreational pilots... why did you choose helicopter over fixed-wing? Were you ever tempted by fixed-wing or always wanted rotor?

Apologies if a thread like this has been posted before; I’m genuinely curious.

Last edited by controlz; 15th Mar 2020 at 22:58.
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Old 15th Mar 2020, 18:22
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Because rotary recreational pilots have considerably more money than yow. And need to prove it :-)
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Old 15th Mar 2020, 19:05
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I got my helicopter rating after my fixed wing, when I was (briefly) flush. It certainly beats fixed wing flying -- when I can afford it.
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Old 15th Mar 2020, 19:33
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I had wanted to fly a helicopter since I was three, when someone gave me a yellow plastic S-51 - it wasn’t ‘what’s this thing?’, it was ‘ah, this is what I want’. There was no question of ever being able to afford it. Got my fixed-wing PPL at 19, realised I couldn’t fly to work or indeed anywhere else without a runway, and it soon lapsed.

in 2002, earning well as an IBM programmer, I managed to afford an hour a month even in addition to raising a young family, until halfway through that year when the customer decided they could manage without me. Progress was rapid (as I thought about heli flying all the time anyway) until the plug got pulled.

The very occasional adventure apart, I knew I would never get to do any flying and was quite contentedly resigned to it. Then in the space of a week, just before I was sixty, my wife died of the heart disease we never knew she had. Suddenly at age 60 I had three pensions coming in (while still doing a full-time job I thoroughly enjoy), life insurance money, and not much to spend it on (even once I’d seen the kids right).

I did not even have to think about it. The three-year old was going to get his wish, and in an R-44, too. Ever since then I have been shaking my head in disbelief that I get to do this.

We could blame whoever gave me that yellow plastic Dragonfly I suppose, but essentially I love flying and only rotary feels right. Anything else would be a mistake.
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Old 15th Mar 2020, 20:13
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I can operate out of locations fixed wings can't, including my own property.
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Old 15th Mar 2020, 21:33
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Originally Posted by Hilico View Post
I had wanted to fly a helicopter since I was three, when someone gave me a yellow plastic S-51 - it wasn’t ‘what’s this thing?’, it was ‘ah, this is what I want’. There was no question of ever being able to afford it. Got my fixed-wing PPL at 19, realised I couldn’t fly to work or indeed anywhere else without a runway, and it soon lapsed.

in 2002, earning well as an IBM programmer, I managed to afford an hour a month even in addition to raising a young family, until halfway through that year when the customer decided they could manage without me. Progress was rapid (as I thought about heli flying all the time anyway) until the plug got pulled.

The very occasional adventure apart, I knew I would never get to do any flying and was quite contentedly resigned to it. Then in the space of a week, just before I was sixty, my wife died of the heart disease we never knew she had. Suddenly at age 60 I had three pensions coming in (while still doing a full-time job I thoroughly enjoy), life insurance money, and not much to spend it on (even once I’d seen the kids right).

I did not even have to think about it. The three-year old was going to get his wish, and in an R-44, too. Ever since then I have been shaking my head in disbelief that I get to do this.

We could blame whoever gave me that yellow plastic Dragonfly I suppose, but essentially I love flying and only rotary feels right. Anything else would be a mistake.
Thank you for sharing this. Fascinating.
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Old 15th Mar 2020, 21:36
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Everything about rotary seems more enjoyable to me, it's just exceptionally expensive in comparison to fixed-wing. Finances wouldn't hold me back and I can do it quite happily, I just want to be sure it's worth the extra investment as I'm not one to throw money away.
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Old 15th Mar 2020, 21:41
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Unless you need to travel very long distances, a helicopter can land anywhere an aeroplane can land. But a helicopter can land in countless places that an aeroplane can’t. Including all sorts of gardens, pubs, restaurants etc etc.

You will struggle to run out of interesting places to land in a helicopter.
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Old 15th Mar 2020, 21:57
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Originally Posted by Bravo73 View Post
Unless you need to travel very long distances, a helicopter can land anywhere an aeroplane can land. But a helicopter can land in countless places that an aeroplane can’t. Including all sorts of gardens, pubs, restaurants etc etc.

You will struggle to run out of interesting places to land in a helicopter.
Right, but in reality can you actually fly your helicopter to the pub or a restaurant?! I assume they need quite a bit of warning and even more free space.
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Old 15th Mar 2020, 22:16
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Originally Posted by controlz View Post
Recreational pilots... why did you choose helicopter over fixed wing? Were you ever tempted by fixed wing or always wanted rotor?
Well, in a plane, you always have to hit a runway at landing, and of course you need one for takeoff. In a helicopter, you don't care about runways at all.
And no, as an "Airwolf"-TV show kid, I never was really interested in fixed wing flying. Luckily, at the same time I did my PPL-H, my wife did her PPL-A. So, for the distance, she's PIC, for sightseeing, I am
And as stated: There's no better way of flying than in a helicopter. Nothing beats hovering over to the airport café and making some fuzz on the tables ;-)

Go, get this license

Thracian
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Old 15th Mar 2020, 22:41
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Originally Posted by controlz View Post
Right, but in reality can you actually fly your helicopter to the pub or a restaurant?! I assume they need quite a bit of warning and even more free space.
Absolutely.

Have a look through this thread: Helipads, hotels and Others: Requests, Recommendations & Rip-offs That should give you plenty of ideas and options. The Helipaddy App is another option for finding lots of helicopter friendly landing sites.
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Old 15th Mar 2020, 22:52
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Originally Posted by Hilico View Post
I had wanted to fly a helicopter since I was three, when someone gave me a yellow plastic S-51 - it wasn’t ‘what’s this thing?’, it was ‘ah, this is what I want’. There was no question of ever being able to afford it. Got my fixed-wing PPL at 19, realised I couldn’t fly to work or indeed anywhere else without a runway, and it soon lapsed.

in 2002, earning well as an IBM programmer, I managed to afford an hour a month even in addition to raising a young family, until halfway through that year when the customer decided they could manage without me. Progress was rapid (as I thought about heli flying all the time anyway) until the plug got pulled.

The very occasional adventure apart, I knew I would never get to do any flying and was quite contentedly resigned to it. Then in the space of a week, just before I was sixty, my wife died of the heart disease we never knew she had. Suddenly at age 60 I had three pensions coming in (while still doing a full-time job I thoroughly enjoy), life insurance money, and not much to spend it on (even once I’d seen the kids right).

I did not even have to think about it. The three-year old was going to get his wish, and in an R-44, too. Ever since then I have been shaking my head in disbelief that I get to do this.

We could blame whoever gave me that yellow plastic Dragonfly I suppose, but essentially I love flying and only rotary feels right. Anything else would be a mistake.
A lifetime love, and one that you managed to achieve despite all the usual, and some less usual difficulties. I'm sure your late wife would be proud of the way you've managed this.

Great acheivement - well done! I'm impressed, for one.
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Old 15th Mar 2020, 22:56
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Originally Posted by Hilico View Post
I had wanted to fly a helicopter since I was three, when someone gave me a yellow plastic S-51 - it wasn’t ‘what’s this thing?’, it was ‘ah, this is what I want’. There was no question of ever being able to afford it. Got my fixed-wing PPL at 19, realised I couldn’t fly to work or indeed anywhere else without a runway, and it soon lapsed.

in 2002, earning well as an IBM programmer, I managed to afford an hour a month even in addition to raising a young family, until halfway through that year when the customer decided they could manage without me. Progress was rapid (as I thought about heli flying all the time anyway) until the plug got pulled.

The very occasional adventure apart, I knew I would never get to do any flying and was quite contentedly resigned to it. Then in the space of a week, just before I was sixty, my wife died of the heart disease we never knew she had. Suddenly at age 60 I had three pensions coming in (while still doing a full-time job I thoroughly enjoy), life insurance money, and not much to spend it on (even once I’d seen the kids right).

I did not even have to think about it. The three-year old was going to get his wish, and in an R-44, too. Ever since then I have been shaking my head in disbelief that I get to do this.

We could blame whoever gave me that yellow plastic Dragonfly I suppose, but essentially I love flying and only rotary feels right. Anything else would be a mistake.
A lifetime love, and one that you managed to achieve despite all the usual and some rather less usual difficulties. I'm sure your late wife would be proud of the way you've managed this.

Great acheivement - well done! I'm impressed, very impressed and I'm she would be too.

Good flying!

Bravo Zulu.
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Old 15th Mar 2020, 23:00
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Aviation has always been a part of my life ever since I started to earn real money, but I kind of fell into the rotary wing game by accident. First it was skydiving. That was poor man's flying, a hell of good time, with such unbelievable camaraderie. I quickly got a (now obsolete) static line jumpmaster rating (just carbon dated myself ), and then found myself alone with pilots on the way back down to pick up the next load and having an opportunity to sneak a few minutes in flying. As the day job got better and I saved more money I obtained my fixed wing certificate. But this never progressed beyond the odd weekend fling in a C150. Then the career really took front stage, and a few other hobbies to boot, but eventually, after getting injured a few times at some other hobbies, I decided to circle back around to aviation, which was much safer than what I had been doing As I started to ramp up the effort for refresher training, with serious thoughts about buying an airplane (I had saved quite a bit by then), I happened to notice that there was a helicopter school on the field. I also happened to notice that they had an incredibly inexpensive GroupOn deal: an introductory lesson for only $150! I couldn't pass that up, not even if it only turned out to be a one-shot amusement park ride, which was exactly what I thought it would be. By the time I came back from that ride I knew without any shadow of a doubt that that was what I wanted to fly. It was so much more fun, with the potential for so much more freedom, and so much more challenging, that I was absolutely hooked, much the same as I was after my first parachute jump.

The rest, as they say, is history, as is the money that got spent to get there! I'm actually working casually (i.e. not every day) now as a commercial helicopter pilot, something I probably couldn't really do as commercial fixed wing pilot. So I suppose that might disqualify me as a "recreational pilot". But since there's effectively no money in the kind of commercial flying I'm doing it really is still quasi-recreational. I've just barely started my CFI training. I hope that goes well, I'd really like to be able to teach someday, and it'll be a good gig when I retire from the day job.

I rarely have flights that go paved runway to paved runway, personal or otherwise. I have no aspirations to travel far, and the places and things I get to do locally are much more interesting. My most recent flight had me picking some folks up in their front yard (4 acre field, actually) and landing them on the 2nd fairway of a resort golf course (and reversing that two days later for the return trip). Much more interesting. I get to do a fair bit of personal flying, and in these parts there are many options for dining and other fun that are simply not available to fixed wing pilots. And I can land and take-off from my property as well. Indeed we moved somewhere where that would not be a problem.

But it does take cubic dollars (or pounds, or Euros, etc.) to do it. Let there be no doubt about it. But I know that if I was more mainstream, and had spent the money on say an IR and a Mooney, I'd be flying a LOT less than I am right now, and probably having a lot less fun, too.
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Old 15th Mar 2020, 23:31
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Originally Posted by aa777888 View Post
But it does take cubic dollars (or pounds, or Euros, etc.) to do it. Let there be no doubt about it. But I know that if I was more mainstream, and had spent the money on say an IR and a Mooney, I'd be flying a LOT less than I am right now, and probably having a lot less fun, too.
I am fully aware it costs a lot of money, but if working hard allows us to pursure hobbies like this then why not!

Coincidentally I was wondering if any recreational/hobby pilots have managed to do some commercial flying for fun, as opposed to always paying for SFH? I have no idea how this would work in reality and I certainly wouldn't be doing it for the money or as a day job per se, but it does seem quite fun to be able to fly "for free" sometimes.
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Old 15th Mar 2020, 23:35
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"Then the career really took front stage, and a few other hobbies to boot, but eventually, after getting injured a few times at some other hobbies"

My hobby was making fireworks

Anyway back on topic Although I really love FW flying, I've always wanted to learn to fly a RW simply because it seems challenging. However I am also kinda yellow when it comes to RW...for my birthday this year I do plan on one lesson. Even though I know the flight controls/instruments in a helicopter and I read the RW flying handbook, I don't think that will help that much.
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Old 16th Mar 2020, 09:28
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Originally Posted by controlz View Post
Coincidentally I was wondering if any recreational/hobby pilots have managed to do some commercial flying for fun, as opposed to always paying for SFH? .
As a recreational pilot you most likely won't have a CPL(H) but a PPL(H). The answer is in your question, for commercial flying you need a commercial licence.
Sometimes flightschools offer very cheap position flights but then it's from a set take off and landing point. And sometimes when a heli needs an overhaul but still has hours left on it, you can get cheaper deals.
Flying for free isn't an option with a PPL(H).
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Old 16th Mar 2020, 14:52
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What's the . ?

What's the point of flying to a pub or restaurant, other than showing off? Pubs are for drinking and Restaurants for food and drink. Neither can be enjoyed when driving there, let alone flying.

And very few of these locations allow for my Super Puma to land there. Get your driver to take you there .
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Old 16th Mar 2020, 15:09
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Originally Posted by thechopper View Post
And very few of these locations allow for my Super Puma to land there.
It is most likely not YOUR super Poomba.
If you have ever owned your own machine you will realise that helicopters have many purposes, not all of which are utilitarian.
Sticking the wife up front and the mutts in the back and heading off to a somewhat inaccessible spot, relatively easily, can be quite an enjoyable affair.
When you are able to spend a good few digits on a decent (non-Robbie) aircraft, you really don't give a monkeys about what people think.
You fly because you can.
There are many stereotypes that abound but there are plenty of rec fliers that take their flying quite seriously.

I started the private route and worked to a commercial ticket. It's not unique.
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Old 16th Mar 2020, 15:12
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Originally Posted by thechopper View Post
What's the point of flying to a pub or restaurant, other than showing off? Pubs are for drinking and Restaurants for food and drink. Neither can be enjoyed when driving there, let alone flying.

And very few of these locations allow for my Super Puma to land there. Get your driver to take you there .

The passengers I take enjoy the showing off, and yes, me too to a point. But, I enjoy the challenge of planning and safely executing off-field landings, confined area, etc., far more. I would have thought most (if not all) helicopter pilots enjoy the inherent challenges of flying a rotary aircraft - otherwise we would all be flying fixed wing (earning more and getting bored).
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