—–Mountain Pilot’s view on the R66—–
The following is the little write up I promised about flying the R66 in the mountains. You can use it as you wish for promoting this remarkable helicopter.
Date: Sept. 10 to Sept 25, 2013
Location: West of Calgary AB in the Canadian Rocky Mountains.
Aircraft: R66 Turbine Helicopter
Pilot: Richard Alzetta
I have over 21,600 hours of flying experience with more than 5,000 hours in the mountains of Europe, Alaska, Asia and Canada.
With more than 7,000 hours on Robinson Helicopters(my first purchase from Eric was the R44 Astro), I really wanted to try the R66 especially in the mountains, which is where I am the happiest flying.
Firstly, I was really impressed by the aircraft’s quality of construction and the attention to little details like lights on the side glass of the hydraulic reservoir and transmission, the single point refueling with a sturdy fuel cap, the large baggage compartment and many other changes from the R44 Raven 2. A nice touch was the middle back seat that can be easily replaced by a plug with 2 armrests and cup holders, giving this helicopter an executive look…very cool!
I wanted to experience for myself what it would be like to fly it in the mountains with a good average load and up to 12,000 feet where most flying in the Rockies would take place. Eric Gould had already done Max Gross 10,000 feet hover OGE with pedal turns so we did not duplicate that.
I flew it with Luke Yanik, and also Bill McMullen (a pilot friend ) as an observer.
We started with a full fuel load and were working in the mountains with 3/4 tank of fuel. Our total weight was 2,360 lbs.(340 lbs. below Max weight). This was what I planned as it would be a very realistic weight for someone taking two friends hiking or heli-fishing. It also showed that we could have carried another 200 lbs. passengers plus backpacks and still be below max.
The weather was cloudy with scattered clouds and a 10/15 knots westerly wind.
We climbed to approximately 12,000 feet using 75% torque and about 70 to 75 knots airspeed. We landed at 11,200 feet with no problem at all and later hovered out of ground effect at 12,000 feet using 82% torque with lots of MGT available and lots of tail rotor authority left and right. We also landed later, on a 9,000 feet pinnacle which was no problem .
The R66 I find, would be the ideal machine, simple, reliable and turbine powered with excellent performance and ease of maintenance.
I do not know of any light turbine helicopter that can match it for price and performance.
It was a really great experience and I would strongly recommend it.