How to Buy a Helicopter…and Other Useless, Intriguing Data

How to Buy a Helicopter. What a topic! I quickly turned to this WSJ magazine feature that provided me with copious amounts of useless information about the best options for choosing the right ‘ship.’ It comes down to piston driven or jet. The three main companies that make helicopters are Sikorski, Bell, and Eurocopter.

But they only turn out about 400 ‘copters a year, way less than the demand. So there’s an automatic wait. Months, and since each one is customized for whatever its function, this adds to the time factor. The advice is to buy used. Apparently the market for used helicopters is surging as corporations shed the machines, worrying about appearances.

You can buy the sleek model favored by Donald Trump, the sleek, low-slung ten-seat Puma helicopter made in France, that the Donald picked up for just two million. It’s worth 12 million now, he says.

I remember taking a helicopter ride in New Zealand where the pilot told us he saved up the $200k he needed to pay for flight school by shearing sheep in the Falkland Islands. At $2-3 a sheep, shearing 300 or so animals a day, it was easy to save the dough.

There are enormous costs involved with helicopters…paint jobs cost $60 grand, and tiny lightbulbs, certified by the FAA, can run up to $50 each. But the real bucks come when you try to build a heliport on top of your apartment, that’s $400K, while a simple paved circle landing pad is a mere $10 thousand.