Helicopter Training Process
Step 1: Schedule an Introductory Flight
For Bedford, MA call 781-274-6322 or Norwood, MA call 781-278-8800 to schedule a hands-on introductory flight for just $279. One of our FAA-certified instructors will work with you on the ground to get you familiar with all of the required material before you get into the machine together.
If you’re technically oriented, you’ll get the most out of your intro lesson by doing some reading first.
From the free online FAA Helicopter Handbook, we recommend the following:
- Chapter 1, Introduction – Note that Robinson helicopters have semi-rigid rotor systems.
- Chapter 2, Aerodynamics of Flight – Please look carefully at the material on autorotation as it will be covered in ground school before your first flight.
- Chapter 3, Helicopter Flight Controls – On page 3-2 is an important explanation of correlators and governors. Note that the Robinson R44 has both a mechanical correlator that opens and closes the throttle as the collective is raised and lowered and an electronic governor that twists the throttle slightly in order to hold rotor RPM at 100 percent.
- Chapter 4, Helicopter Components, Sections, and Systems – Note that the Robinson R44 you’ll be flying has a piston engine, semi-rigid rotor system, and hydraulically boosted flight controls.
- Chapter 9, Basic Flight Maneuvers – Concentrate on Vertical Takeoff to a Hover, Normal Takeoff from a Hover, Straight and Level Flight, Turns, Normal Climb, Normal Descent, and Normal Approach to a Hover.
- Chapter 8, Flight Instruments – Those relevant to the R44 are the Altimeter, Vertical Speed Indicator, Airspeed Indicator, and Magnetic Compass.
- Chapter 14, Airport Operations – Note that Hanscom Field is a towered airport. The airport diagram and other information are available from com. The Wikipedia article for Runway is also useful.
Step 2: Fly about 20 hours with an instructor
Starting with your $279 introductory lesson you’ll work with an instructor on takeoffs, hovering, climbs, turns, descents, landings, and handling abnormal situations.
Step 3: Get an FAA Medical Exam / Student Pilot Certificate
Shortly after you begin your training, locate a local FAA Designated Medical Examiner. You’ll have a short simple physical check-up to make sure that you meet the standards for a Private pilot. As long as your vision is correctable to 20/40 with glasses or contacts and you’re in reasonably good health, your medical will be good for five years (young folks) or two years (aged over 40).
Step 4: Fly about 10 hours solo
After being signed off by your instructor, you’ll fly solo for about 10 hours, including trips to nearby airports as well as practicing takeoffs and landings at Hanscom Field.
Step 5: Fly another 10 hours or so
You’ll work with your instructor to polish your skills toward the FAA “check ride.”
Step 6: Pass the FAA Practical Test
We have an on-staff examiner, Mike Rhodes, who can administer FAA helicopter checkrides. You’ll fly with Mike demonstrating most of the maneuvers that you’ve learned with your regular instructor and walk away with an FAA Private Pilot’s Certificate.
Step 7: Enjoy the Freedom of Flight
Congratulations! You are a certificated pilot! You can now introduce your family and friends to the joys of flight, renting East Coast Aero Club’s four-seat R44s at $425/hour (with $10 cash discount rate applied), the lowest price in the world, including all taxes and fuel.