You’d be exhausting pressed to find a more passionate gathering of helicopter lovers and pilots in North America than the annual HeliClub fly-in on the Mont Tremblant resort 100 kilometers (62 miles) northwest of Montreal within the Laurentian Mountains.
This yr, more than 86 personal helicopter pilots converged to check fly new helicopter fashions, take safety programs, attend workshops, meet business VIPs, and see previous and new pals who share a passion for flying personal helicopters.
This yr, more than 86 personal helicopter pilots converged on St Jovite airfield in Mont Tremblant, Quebec. They flew new helicopter fashions, took safety courses, attended workshops, and networked with business contacts. Kenneth I. Swartz Photograph
The sudden sunny climate introduced a report 34 personal helicopters the primary morning to the historic St Jovite airfield, and more touched down the following day.
The 1,zero06-meter (3,300-foot) turf airport was a gathering point for the wealthy and famous. It was established within the early 1920s by F.H. “Tom” Wheeler to welcome fly-in visitors to the family’s Grey Rocks lodge, the first resort in the Laurentian mountains and the first resort in Canada to operate an aircraft.
At the moment, HeliClub has 154 pilot members and 235 associate members who fly with members but will not be pilots (e.g. family and friends).
VIP from Robinson
This yr’s fly-in visitor of honor was Pete Riedl, vice chairman of engineering at Robinson Helicopter in Torrance, California.
Forty-years in the past, the unique two-seat R22 was certified by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on March 16, 1979. The R22’s easy design, easy upkeep schedule, and unique US$40,000 price tag resonated with operators and stimulated private helicopter ownership, which drastically expanded with the introduction of the four-seat R44 in 1993.
Robinson estimates that the four,800 R22s, 6,900 R44s and 900 R66s delivered over the past 40 years have flown more than 40 million flight hours.
Right now, the R44 is the world’s best-selling helicopter and the preferred personal helicopter in Canada and particularly Quebec.
The truth is, 135 (55 %) of the 244 personal R44s in Canada are based mostly in Quebec and the R44 accounts for 49 % of Quebec’s 273 privately-owned helicopters – the most important fleet in Canada.
Riedl’s night presentation principally highlighted his involvement in the improvement of the R44 and R66. “I had intended to spend more time talking about future projects, but it was running late,” stated Riedl.
“I hear about a lot of airplane fly-ins, but helicopter fly-ins seem quite rare. This is the perfect event to both socialize and to have a positive safety impact with the seminars. It’s always difficult to find an aviation event that is also enjoyable for the non-aviation-minded spouses. HelicoStore nailed it. (My wife) Irene and I met some very interesting people, and everyone seemed to really enjoy the event.”
Robinson delivered 316 helicopters in 2018 and is producing one R22, two R66s and 4 R44s every week (including the two-seat R44 Cadet).
This yr’s fly-in guest of honor was Pete Riedl, vice chairman of engineering at Robinson Helicopter in Torrance, California. Kenneth I. Swartz Photograph
Riedl’s staff is consistently creating product enhancements and new choices for its helicopters, that are bought via independently owned and operated dealers throughout the world, like HelicoStore.
Firm founder Frank Robison employed Riedl within the mid-1980s after he accomplished a grasp’s degree at UC Berkley. At this time, he oversees a small workforce of 20 engineers chargeable for helicopter designs in addition to product improvements, options and safety.
“Frank’s idea was that he wanted his engineers to have a whole view of the aircraft, not be specialists, and he also encouraged us to fly,” stated Riedl, who has logged about three,000 hours as a helicopter pilot.
Earlier this yr Kurt Robinson revealed that the company plans to check fly an R44 powered by a diesel engine, which is predicted to supply a 25 % decrease gasoline consumption and improved altitude efficiency. Robinson is years away from making a manufacturing determination, however sellers in nations where avgas is dear or non-existent (resembling Russia) have lengthy sought a diesel-powered R44.
Other VIPs in attendance on the fly-in included helicopter pilot and retired National Hockey League right-winger Man Lafleur, who this yr arrived as a passenger in a corporate Bell 429 owned by a Montreal-based actual property developer.
This yr, St Jovite hosted a report number of training and pilot demo flights in Robinson (R44 and R66), Bell (505, 407, 429), and Airbus (120B and 130) fashions with Leonardo Helicopters collaborating for the primary time, utilizing a VIP AW109 Grand New flown in from Toronto.
Leonardo says the AW109SP is in the same class because the Bell 429 and Airbus H135. It believes the Canadian personal helicopter market is “seeing an uptick” as financial progress within the US stimulates the financial system in Canada.
Robinson has a 40-year history of supporting personal helicopter house owners by means of its vendor network and Bell has renewed its concentrate on the personal owner-pilot market since certifying the Bell 505 JetRanger X, which is assembled 72 km (45 miles) away from Mont Tremblant in Mirabel, Quebec.
Heli-Club is the brainchild of HelicoStore, which was founded in 1992 and became a Robinson helicopter distributor in 1998. After supporting greater than 210 personal house owners in the means of acquiring their helicopters, HeliStore decided to create a membership in Quebec that provided helicopter flying, social, and help advantages loosely modelled on Quebec’s in style snowmobile clubs.
Members take pleasure in helicopter journeys and social events together and get offers on providers like coaching, upkeep, insurance, gasoline, financing and hangar storage.
HelicoStore owner and HeliClub chief Jean-Charles Emter stated the objective of HeliClub “is for members to have fun with their helicopter and stay safe.”
Final yr, accidents tragically claimed the lives of HeliClub members. In response, the primary focus of this yr’s HeliClub fly-in was flight safety, with three workshops that have been nicely attended by members.
HeliClub members speak helicopter at the 2019 fly-in. Kenneth I. Swartz Photograph
The primary workshop offered owner-pilots with the chance to enhance their expertise by studying from the errors of others. One objective was to offer personal pilots with the decision-making tools to avoid climate risks similar to flying into instrument meteorological circumstances (IMC).
The second workshop was for regular helicopter passengers (e.g. household and buddies) who needed to play a more lively position within the cockpit or help in an emergency.
The third course was a primer on helicopter autopilots. At this time, each the R44 and R66 can be found with an non-compulsory Genesys Aerosystems HeliSAS (Helicopter Stability Augmentation System) which has significantly enhanced safety and helped stimulate new aircraft sales.
Many pilots used the fly-in to take recurrent training with an instructor and apply autorotations at the far finish of the airport.
Five of the volunteers working the flight line have been young pilots who lately completed business pilot coaching at Helicraft, Passport Helicopters or Chinook Helicopters in British Columbia, including two college students from France and one from Switzerland.
HeliClub members come from all walks of life and a wide range of professions, but all share a ardour for helicopters.
Businessman Tony Martel is a daily at the fly-in together with his highly polished green and black Robinson R22 Raven I, with an altimeter painted on the aspect.
“I always dreamed of flying a helicopter, but it was too expensive, so I started flying ultralight fixed-wing aircraft in 2005-2006 instead,” stated Martel, who started sprucing automobiles as an adolescent and founded a cellular sprucing enterprise in his 20s.
A small job sprucing a Cessna led to new work sprucing Convair 580s flown by Hydro Quebec and shining up excessive efficiency Bombardier Challenger and International business jets previous to delivery.
Martel’s life modified about seven years ago when he was snowmobiling in northern Quebec and a Robinson R44 pilot landed beside him whereas he was having breakfast.
“I thought, ‘It’s my turn now,’ and I started groundschool two days later,” recalled Martel, who then hired an instructor to teach him how one can fly the new R44 he bought from HelicoStore in 2012.
Martel flies his R22 commonly for enterprise and pleasure and retains the plane in a small hangar next to his home west of Montreal on the Ottawa River.
“The Robinson R44 is a great aircraft and an intelligent choice for a guy like me. It has great performance and can carry four people. If I wasn’t doing a lot of different outdoor activities and travelling, I’d probably have an R66 or a Bell 505.”
Martel flies between 100 and 150 hours a yr and estimates his direct working prices are about $600 per yr, due to the low utilization price.
This yr, pilots got here to the fly-in from as distant as Louisiana. Steps at the moment are being taken to broaden HeliClub to the Ontario market, which is residence to solely 93 personal helicopters “but has four times the wealth” of Quebec, defined Emter.
To this end, HelicoStore just lately shaped a partnership with Heli-Lynx of Stoney Creek, Ontario, which was bought by personal helicopter house owners Rob Tyler and Bill Kurtin earlier this yr.
Heli-Lynx plans to increase its business across the VIP sector, providing custom-made completions, maintenance, and help for personal operators in Ontario and Quebec. It lately accomplished two Airbus H125/350 helicopters with VIP interiors for American clients.
HelicoStore and Heli-Lynx are planning occasions in the Toronto space that may expose more individuals to the sensible and fun features of helicopter possession.