The helicopter has always been the less popular brother of the jet in the aircraft family. It operates on physical dynamics that are quite different compared to jet aircraft. However, being able to float thousands of feet above the city and seeing life going on beneath you is one of the best experiences that one can have in their life. In many ways, it shows you the true scale of things. As a tiny human being who has to spend most of his/her life crawling on the earth in cars or on foot, the view from a helicopter is perhaps the best way you can truly see the world as a giant would. It humbles you in a sense, realizing that this machine that can suspend you in the air was produced through sheer trial and error. It was produced at a time when humans did not have complex modeling software that could simulate situations. If you were an inventor in the 20th century, you had to put literal skin in the game and take the risks attached with the glory itself.
Helicopters play a very important role in different capacities. For one, helicopters are able to reach difficult terrains that might be impossible for cars or jeeps to reach. Even planes need to have a lot of flat lands that need to have a runway in order for them to have access. Thus, helicopters generally are the vehicle of choice for an air ambulance. If you are somehow stranded at a mountain pass and running the risk of frostbite, you will be praying for a helicopter to be rescued. On the other hand, helicopters are a great way to traverse a lot of traffic congestion while you are in the city. A lot of wealthy businesses tend to have helicopters in tow so that their executives can fly from one place to another without the bother of waiting around in traffic. This generally stands true for shorter distances as longer distances are better traveled on a jet.
Generally, when we imagine luxury travel, the first thing that comes to mind is a Gulfstream being marshaled across the skies. However, it is also true that the running costs of jets are simply insane compared to helicopters. For travel inside of a city that has a lot of congestion, helicopters are simply unbeatable and the best choice for business people who have an extremely time-sensitive schedule.
Eurocopter Mercedes-Benz EC145
Mercedes Benz is perhaps the most iconic automobile company in the entire world. Their pedigree goes as far as literally the first automobile ever, the Benz Velo. Over the years, they have produced iconic vehicle after iconic vehicle. If I started naming them, it would take an entire day for me just to run out the names. The Gullwing SL is one of the most expensive cars ever in history and won various endurance races in its day. The R129 SL stands as one of the best examples of design in the 90s. Say what you want about these Germans, but they definitely know how to build a great car. The S-Class has been the absolute benchmark of luxury design and aesthetics for many decades now. In fact, it is said that Mercedes’ design language has completely crossed the borders of car design and has crossed out into various other avenues as well. We haven’t even gotten started on the engines yet. German efficiency and performance are best characterized by Mercedes. They have been producing great engines for themselves and other car makers for as long as memory serves.
This pedigree also crosses out into the world of helicopters. The Eurocopter screams its ancestry at even the first look. The helicopter is equipped to carry about six passengers. This particular helicopter is one of the best examples of cutting-edge technology being put to good use. The ambient lighting is a great modern touch. In fact, wood has been used liberally throughout the interior which helps to make the space of the interior more naturalized. A more introspective look inside the helicopter reveals the fact that the interior is extremely derivative of car design. If you are a ‘car guy’, then this is definitely the helicopter for you. Although it might be a bit of a pet peeve for people who are fans of traditional helicopter design. The helicopter has a state-of-the-art advanced autopilot system that is able to transform the very experience of piloting an aircraft. The price tag is as steep as you would expect from Mercedes, coming in at $8.5 million.
The AugustaWestland AW101 has one of the most badass names in the world of helicopters. The helicopter is a dual-purpose aircraft that has applications both in the military and the civilian world. It also has an interesting history as well. It was actually developed in a partnership between the United Kingdom and The Italian Agusta. It was revolutionary in many ways when it was first developed in 1987. It was able to reach a top speed of 281 kmph. While it is a very capable civilian aircraft, its military version is that much more interesting. It can carry 2 machine guns on either side simultaneously, making sure that the enemy is always on the run whenever faced with this formidable machine. It can be refueled in mid-air as well, giving it a tactical advantage that other aircraft are unlikely to have.
One of its purposes is the transport of VVIPs, people of such great importance that they have to be escorted in highly protected and monitored environments. This particular aircraft can carry about 10 VVIPs and 3 times as many military commanders. This is due to the fact that military commanders need not require as much security and thus more can be fitted at once. On top of that, it is the largest helicopter that is available for this express purpose, making it the go-to choice. If there was ever the title of the Hummer of the aviation world, this helicopter would surely win it. It has a capacity of 3,222 liters. It also has an extra fourth tank for those times of crisis and it acts as a reservoir during those times. All these extra fittings and equipment do not come cheap and the helicopter comes in at a price of $12 million, a truly staggering number.
Sikorsky S-92 VVIP Configuration
There are few names in the aviation industry that are as synonymous with success as Sikorsky is. The Sikorsky S-92 is the brightest light in a long line of absolutely great aircraft that have been dominating the skies for a long time. While the S-92 has been used for a variety of mission profiles from military to civilian, perhaps its most prevalent use is for VVIP travels. If I started naming all the countries that use the S-92 for VVIP transport, I would lose all sense. Its popularity is mainly due to its endurance. It can survive in environments where other aircraft would simply not be able to cope. So, Sikorsky came up with the idea of a helicopter that is specifically dedicated to VVIP transport. There was absolutely no expense spared for this particular helicopter. In fact, the interior equals most luxury jets, nay, exceeds them. The helicopter has a custom-made toilet that even has the option for a shower. Most people know that these are insane things to have in a private jet. These things are even more insane in a helicopter.
Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk
Perhaps the quintessential helicopter when it comes to first-person shooters and action films, the black hawk is synonymous with the US military. In fact, this helicopter was designed specifically for the US military. The name has a very interesting history as well. It pays homage to the Native American warlord who was also named Black Hawk. The name is truly apt as the helicopter is able to mirror these feelings as well. Its introduction was at the eclipse of the 1970s. What made it such a rousing success is its sheer durability. It has fought in war zones where you would be lucky to get a drop of clean fuel. It has served in extreme heat where other machinery starts to show its faults. Interestingly, this helicopter has been truly around the world and served in Grenada, Panama, Iraq, and Afghanistan. These have been some of the toughest battle zones in the world in the past 40 years and this helicopter has performed admirably during its entire stint.
We have been discussing some very serious aircraft here. So, this will be extremely refreshing when we turn to the MD 600N. In terms of size, it is certainly a downgrade from other aircraft that we have mentioned. This helicopter was designed from the ground up for civilian use. Of all the good things to have come out of 1994 such as Oasis’s first album, this helicopter distinguishes itself being released in November of 1994. The 600N actually was descended from a predecessor with the name of MD520N. The biggest upgrade was in terms of capacity as this was able to carry 8 people compared to the 5 people that the M520N was able to carry. Its top speed stands at 175 mph which is extremely impressive for an aircraft of its size. The six-blade motor system and the fact that its extremely light makes it a helicopter that is very good around tight turns and can get you out of a sticky situation with relative ease. One of its main faults was the tail rotor, which turned out to be the cause of nearly a quarter of the helicopter’s accidents. It was later replaced. Interestingly enough, the MD 600N comes at an extremely competitive price of $1.9 million. It will however not have the bells and whistles of more expensive aircraft.
Bell 525 Relentless
A visionary design that still graces only the drawing board, the Bell 525 relentless is a very interesting aircraft. It has been envisaged to hold 19 passengers, a staggering number for an aircraft of its size. The ARC Horizon flight deck system is supposed to completely disrupt the world of avionics. This will also usher in a new era of all-around awareness for the crew, making sure that accidents and other incidents get rarer as time goes on. One of its proposed uses is the carrying of VVIPs as well as performing search and rescue missions. Both of these purposes require a different type of expertise that is rather hard to combine in one single aircraft. However, it seems that this aircraft that is still under development might have cracked this and achieved something that has never been done before in history. The price also reflects this capability, coming in at $15 million.
For a lot of people, helicopters will always be a step below jets. For them, the sheer thrill of traveling at speeds that rival the speed of sound is a type of theater that is extremely hard to replicate. However, as it is evident by the prices of these helicopters, there are a lot of people who are out there willing to pay top dollar for helicopters that exhibit a wide range of capabilities. From the ruthless efficiency of Sikorsky helicopters to the effortless luxury of the Eurocopter, there really is something for everyone here.