/ The Phoenix Traveler

A Fun Day at the Airport? Go Fly a Helicopter

Living with an aviation nut isn’t easy.  My husband, the nut, carries on endless conversations about planes, is obsessed with weather patterns, subscribes to over twenty different types of aviation magazines and is always looking up in the sky when I’m trying to make a point.  To feed his passion, he received a gift certificate for an introductory helicopter flight lesson at Quantum Helicopters in Chandler, Arizona which turned out to be a fun day at the airport for all of us.

As a 20-year airline captain flying Boeing jets, my husband has always had a fascination with helicopters.  His hour-long flight lesson with Quantum located at the Chandler Municipal Airport gave him a taste of what he’s been dreaming about all his life.

Quantum Helicopters (map), a professional flight training operation since 1993 operates a fleet of ten Robinson R22 Beta II helicopters and two Robinson R44 Raven II helicopters.  Robinson helicopters are known for being well-built, affordable and fast.  It’s often said in the industry that if you can fly a Robinson R22 you can fly just about any type of helicopter.

A one hour lesson starts off with ground instruction conducted one-on-one with your instructor. You’ll learn the basics of how a helicopter flies; lift, drag, thrust and weight are the four forces acting on any aircraft.  You’ll also learn the main components of a helicopter, for example, fuselage, main rotor system and tail rotor system.  And lastly, you’ll gain an understanding of the flight controls; the cyclic, the collective and the anti-torque pedals.  Okay, you got it?  Let’s fly!

Hover practice

After you pose for photos outside and inside the helicopter for future holiday cards or your Facebook page, you’re ready for take-off.  Students are introduced to straight and level flying, left and right turns and climbs and descents while actually being on the controls during most of the flight. Once you’ve mastered these basics your session concludes back at the airport learning how to hover the aircraft.  A familiar sight, hovering a helicopter is a maneuver in which the aircraft is maintained in nearly motionless flight over a reference point on the ground. 

Each student has the opportunity to spend 30-45 minutes with their instructor before and after the flight to discuss and ask questions. Students get to choose between a logbook in which to record the day’s flight, a Quantum t-shirt or hat to remember the experience. The cost for this package is $255.00.

Neil Jones, president of Quantum Helicopters has been involved in helicopter and airplane flight training for 26 years.  According to Neil, “A helicopter lesson is one of the most unique experiences one can probably have and more than any other aircraft helicopters are able to replicate what it might be like for a human to “fly like a bird.”  Most first time flyers are thrilled with the experience, although would report it as being something that takes some time to master. I think the difficulty and the challenge of flying a helicopter is part of what makes it fun.”

Help Wanted:  Helicopter Pilots

Facebook shot

It’s interesting to note that there are quite a lot of career opportunities available for helicopter pilots if you choose to invest in pilot training.  A very diverse industry, helicopter pilots can work for the local police, rescue, news gathering, sightseeing, public utilities and offshore exploration to name just a few.

Coincidently, there is currently a huge shortage of helicopter pilots. This is partly due to the growth of the helicopter industry itself but the main reason is that the helicopter pilots trained for the Vietnam War are now beginning to retire. With an estimated 30,000 pilots retiring from the industry, new aspiring helicopter pilots have many opportunities available to them.

Quantum offers training to students pursuing all ratings, from private to ATP with Internet access for flight planning and training purposes. Quantum does not train with simulators. All flight time is actual flight experience that counts toward the rating being pursued and student’s career goals. 

Just for Fun
If you need to be someplace in a flash or simply want to make an impression, Quantum offers charter flights for special occasions or important meetings. The company is authorized under Part 135 of the FAA regulations to offer on demand air taxi service to locations such as Sedona, other scenic locations and Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport.

Quantum's fleet of helicopters

For excellent visibility and comfort choose between the R22, which accommodates one passenger, or the air-conditioned R44, which accommodates three passengers in addition to the pilot. The rates are $285 per hour for the R22 and $550 per hour for the R44. A one-hour minimum rental is required.

It’s not every day that you get to achieve your dreams.  My husband was very impressed with Quantum’s professional operation, their facilities and staff.  With his first helicopter lesson under his belt, now all he talks about are antitorque configurations, tip jet designs,  NOTAR Technology and tandem rotors.  It looks like I’ll have to surrender my Bon Appetit and Cooking Light magazines for Rotor Roster, Rotor and Rescue and Rotorhub and that’s just the R’s.

Quantum Helicopters
2401 S Heliport Way, Chandler

Photos from personal collection.

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