In praise of the R-44
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Member Since : 2007

In praise of the R-44

10-13-2014 08:19:51

I think we all secretly want the R66, the power, the speed, the 5th seat, the shoulder room, the tick tick tick whoosh as the turbine lights off. But then reality pops up it's head.
Last week I flew my trusty 2001 R-44 Clipper home to Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada from the gold mine in the Yukon Territories. 150 miles south of the arctic circle and 2000 feet from where they make the"reality" TV show Gold Rush.
I started at Camp and flew to the Dawson City, Yukon airport for fuel. Since I was going 100 miles north, over totally uninhabited land, before turning to Whitehorse 230 nautical miles east, I, for the first time took a couple of jerry cans. Well not really jerry cans, orange plastic military surplus containers certified to fly inside aircraft.
It was a beautiful flight and landed at a really remote abandoned gold mine that had equipment I wanted to look at. I looked at the equipment that was not in any way as good as it was portrayed and refilled the tanks with my 10 gallons of containerized fuel and headed for Whitehorse. Clear, crisp and happily flying but the weather got worse until it was about 1/2 mile viz with 200 feet ceilings, flying down a river that I was not familiar with. At the first opportunity I stopped at a commercial Heli base and arrived just before the driving snow and wind. Congratulated myself on not pushing forward and hitched a ride to a small gas station/ motel and spent a very comfortable night. In the morning it was much better and after cleaning off the snow and ice, headed for Whitehorse.
Hit vicious headwinds all the way and with the Garmin 430 and ForeFlight agreeing that I was 15 minutes from the airport, the low fuel light came on and stayed on.
5 minutes later I landed out back of a gas station on the highway and got 5 gallons of premium gas and safely flew to the airport. Try that in your R66. Twice more I had to stop and refresh my tanks on a flight that I had done twice before, always making it safely to the airports with sufficient fuel.
Slowest cruise speed at 23 inches was 67 knots, fastest cruise speed at the same 23 inches was 154 KTS as recorded on the 430, at indicated air speed of 105.
I would love to have the R66, but the cost to have one extra seat when 75% of the time I am by myself, the speed would be nice but it is only a few minutes faster on most flights, and the cost difference for everything still makes the R44 the winner in my books.
100 low lead may be harder to find some times than jet fuel but in remote areas, it is much easier to get to a gas station when you are truly stuck than it is an airport.


Member Since : 2007
10-15-2014 03:14:41
Member Since : 2007
10-19-2014 07:11:47
Hi Simon,
Nice issue to be able to get fuel from a gas station.
Another great tip from R66 is the giant luggage compartment and also you can take off with 5 on a really confined area.
On my R66 I use a tourtle pack drum 66 so I have about 1,5 hour more with half capacity.
Member Since : 2011
12-07-2014 12:57:42
We also use auxillary tanks on R66. Recent expedition from Russia to New Zealand had them installed. Worked very well. I understand that Robinson wants to offer one soon.

I also know of one case when the guys in R66 used diesel fuel from the gas station when being short of fuel. They had to fly additional 30 minutes to the proper aviation gas station. Worked without any problems