Q: I have never flown in a helicopter, how does it compare to flying in a small plane?

A: Generally, in the same conditions, helicopters are smoother in flight then fixed wing aircraft since the rotor blades are more flexible then wings, and thus absorb bumpy air better.  Since the engine and transmission are located near to the cabin, headsets are required to muffle noise and to facilitate communication amongst the passengers. Unlike fixed wing aircraft, helicopters generally remain in a level attitude during climbs and descents.

Q: What is the proper procedure for boarding a helicopter while the rotor is turning?

A: If you are waiting for the aircraft to land, be sure to let the pilot taxi the helicopter to a safe spot and place the aircraft solidly on the ground before approaching.  Once the aircraft has firmly set down, the pilot will slow the rotor to the flight idle, which will reduce the amount of noise and rotor wash surrounding the aircraft.  Always approach the aircraft from the front, NEVER from the rear, in full view of the pilot (see diagram below).  The rotor blades are about 7 feet off the surface, and a wind gust can cause the blades to tilt in one direction or another, so be sure to bend over as you walk under the spinning blades.  Wait for the pilots signal before you begin your approach.  Always stay in view of the pilot as you walk up.  There are steps and straps to assist your boarding of the aircraft.  If you are climbing into the right front seat, please exercise care not to jostle the flight controls as you take your seat. Once seated, please locate the headset nearest your seat and place it on your head.  The pilot will instruct you on how to fasten your seat belts and prepare for the flight.


Q: How safe is a helicopter? What happens if the engine fails?

A: All helicopters have the ability to glide to the ground in the event of an engine failure, this procedure is called an autorotation.  Our helicopters are equipped with state of the art turbine engines which are extremely reliable.

Q: How fast can the aircraft fly?

A: Top speed is limited to 130 knots (150 mph).  We normally cruise at 100 knots (115 mph).

Q: How high can the aircraft fly?

A: 14, 370 ft is our ceiling limitation.

Q: How far can the helicopter fly on a tank of fuel?

A: We carry 2 hours 45 minutes worth of fuel.  We normally plan on a 30 minute reserve, so in 2 hours and 15 minutes flying at 100 knots we can cover 215 nautical miles (250 miles).

Q: How does the pilot navigate while in the air?

A: The aircraft include redundant, moving map GPS satellite based navigation systems.  We can locate a site by:

  • Latitude/longitude
  • Street address
  • Road intersections
  • Railroads, lakes and other geographical features.

Your pilot will program in your destination(s) in the navigation system prior to take off to ensure optimum routing.

Q: What type of climate control is installed on the aircraft? Do you have air conditioning?

A: The aircraft is equipped with a heater and defroster, but does not include A/C.  There is a fresh air vent in the nose of the aircraft, as well as individual fresh air vent for each seat.  On very warm days, we typically will remove the windows from the doors to increase the amount of fresh air ventilation in the cabin.

Q:  Are there weather limitations that affect the operation of the aircraft?

A: Yes.  We are prohibited from flying into any freezing precipitation, and we typically avoid flying in any precipitation whatsoever.  We will not fly if the visibility is less than three miles, and if the ceiling is less than 2,000 ft.  If the surface winds are greater than 35 knots, or the wind gust spread exceed 25 knots, we will also not normally fly.  Naturally, we dont fly if the weather conditions are conducive to severe weather.

Q: Can you fly at night?

A: Sure.  The weather minimums for night flight are: visibility of 5 miles, ceiling of 5,000 ft.

Q: How low can you fly?

A: For safety reasons we normally dont fly lower than 1,000 ft in typical operations.  However, as long as we dont pose a hazard to property or personnel on the ground we can fly lower if the mission demands it.

Q: How slow can you fly?

A: In forward flight, the normal slowest airspeed is 60 knots.  However, being a helicopter, we can hover at zero airspeed if required.

Q: Does the aircraft have a baggage compartment?

A: No.  All baggage must accompany passengers inside the cabin.  There is some limited storage space underneath the rear seats, and there is no storage space in the front cabin.  The interior features seating for four adults (including the pilot), the accommodations mimic a mid-sized car.  The seats are not adjustable.  For cargo carrying purposes, the rear seats are easily removed.  The interior is completely carpeted, and the seats are upholstered in cloth.

Q: When is payment for a flight due?

A: Payment is expected at the conclusion of a flight.  Billing arrangements are available for large corporate customers.

Q: Are there any procedures to observe while in flight?

A: Yes, there are:

  • No smoking at all times.
  • Seat & shoulder belts must be worn at all times.
  • Be alert for other aircraft, birds, etc., especially on the side of the aircraft opposite where the pilot is seating.  Dont hesitate to alert the pilot to this other traffic when necessary.
  • The pilots workload when approaching or departing an airport is very high, and he may ask you to stay off the intercom for this interval to facilitate communication with air traffic control.
  • Feel free to ask the pilot any questions you may have, at any time.
  • For safety and visibility reasons, we usually we fly between 1000 to 1500 ft.  In some cases, such as flying in to downtown Washington DC we are mandated by air traffic control to fly much lower.