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Drop Right In: Helicopters work like nothing else
Choice dominates every level of our lives. Variety within aviation is largely solution-driven: we pick aircraft matched to as many of our needs as possible- and thanks to the helicopter- that includes the need to launch and land vertically (for convenience or space reasons)- and even hang suspended in mid-flight.

Recent arrivals to the aviation community often express amazement at the huge variety within the aircraft fleet. The helicopter delivers variety that fulfills a myriad of missions. When Paul Cornu piloted the first helicopter in 1907 the world was only beginning to awaken to the reality of flight. Cornu’s dual-rotor ship failed- as did subsequent efforts (with one or two rare exceptions). In the U.S. in 1942- however- pilot and engineer Igor Sikorsky put the first commercially successful helicopter into full production. He built 131 aircraft the first year.

The aviation world embraced Sikorsky’s innovation as the helicopter solution which- with very few exceptions- is at it remains today. The singularity of the helicopter is down to its merger of thrust creation and lift creation into one device: the main rotor. The blades overhead become stronger and stiffer thanks to centrifugal force; once up to speed the rotor blades serve as the lifting surface- just as a pair of wings does for a fixed-wing aircraft.

Helicopters also move about the horizontal axis on the thrust produced by those same horizontally rotating blades. In fact- some claim helicopters parallel the bumble bee- a hybridization of engineering resulting in an amazing ability to move straight up or down- left- right- forward – even back- simultaneously defying logic and the precepts of gravity.

As with many elements of aviation- military service preceded the spread of rotary aircraft to personal and business use. However- it took the business community little additional time to embrace the helicopter’s potential.

Companies have integrated helicopters into logging and fishing; they use helicopters to deliver engineers and surveyors to otherwise inaccessible terrain- or to shuttle people and supplies between shore and off-shore energy platforms (and much- much more)- all owing to their unique abilities. Of course- the various manufacturers design and outfit their varied aircraft tailored to specific jobs. As with picking the correct fixed-wing aircraft- choosing the proper helicopter for your needs entails answering questions about need and use.

Those traits the Army found attractive help deliver executives quickly and securely between airports and offices- eliminating cars and traffic delays where the users enjoy access. Whether from a rooftop heliport or a ground-level facility- the helicopter makes short work of long drives out of busy cities- or from any city to remote development sites.

The helicopter offers an excellent platform for scouting real estate location for development or investment- thanks to its ability to slow to (almost) a stop while circling one location: a trait that law enforcement finds essential.

The weakest aspects of helicopters (among many attractive traits) involve their cross-country capabilities. First- helicopters aren’t particularly fast- generally cruising in the same range as a piston-powered single-engine fixed-wing aircraft (150 knots to 175 knots). Second- they mostly offer limited range- with anything over 400 nautical miles relatively rare.

Nevertheless- the market offers an excellent variety- from small piston-single helicopters seating two and four- to turbine-engine singles- twins and triples which excel at lifting large loads for several hundred miles.

Ultimately- whether a helicopter matches the needs of your corporation all depends on what you need in terms of corporate travel. If a helicopter does fill the requirement- you can rest assured there’s a suitable model available to match that need.

The following Helicopter Retail Price Guide represents current values published in the Aircraft Bluebook – Price Digest. The study spans model years from 2001 through 2010. Values reported are in USD thousands. Each reporting point represents the current retail value published in the Aircraft Bluebook by its corresponding calendar year.

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