Most people think helicopters are just used by the military or police force. But actually, helicopters are used for dozens, if not hundreds of other purposes.
And no, they aren’t just smaller airplanes. They are unique vehicles that can operate and maneuver in a way that no other vehicle can, thanks to their specially designed propellers.
Are you interested in learning some facts about helicopters that most people are completely oblivious to? These fascinating machines have a long history and are used extensively today to make our lives better, without us even realizing it.
Keep reading to learn the most interesting helicopter facts and why flying a helicopter is something you need to do during your lifetime.
1. Helicopters Save Lives
Helicopters are used on a regular basis to perform life-saving rescue missions. Organizations like the US Coast Guard, as well as others, use helicopters to rescue people caught in the middle of a disaster.
When a storm overtakes a boat at sea and dumps its crew into the fierce waves, helicopters piloted by the Coast Guard are able to reach the scene and get close enough to perform rescues in a way that planes or boats can never do.
They are also used to rescue hikers, skiers, alpinists, and others who get caught or injured in the backcountry.
2. Helicopters Fight Fires
Not only can helicopters save lives, but they can fight fires, preventing damage to homes, businesses, and the environment. When a wildfire rages, particularly in the west, flames can spread rapidly during the hottest months.
It can be very difficult for firemen and trucks to reach the flames of a wildfire. Helicopters are used to dump massive amounts of water on the flames at one time, helping to slow the spread of the flames until those on the ground can get to the scene.
3. You Can Take Heli-Tours
These days, helicopters aren’t just reserved for professionals or those willing to put their life on the line. Civilians like you and me can take a tour in a helicopter any time we want.
Many private companies and pilots offer tours that can cost as little as a hundred dollars or so. These are typically offered in scenic areas, such as major cities, coastlines, or island regions like the Florida Keys.
Taking a Heli tour is a great way to see your favorite place in a brand new way. Try booking a tour during sunset for the most incredible view.
4. You Can Build Your Own
Yup, that’s right, you can actually build your own helicopter. You can buy a helicopter kit, that comes with all the materials and components needed to assemble a fully functional helicopter.
And you can build it right in your garage. It’s likely going to take a few hundred hours to put one together, but you don’t need to be a professional mechanic or an engineer in order to make it happen.
As long as you love to tinker, and you know how to use basic hand tools, you’ll be able to put one together. The complex stuff, like welding, is done for you.
While anyone can buy and assemble these, they are typically used by those whose profession would benefit from getting into the air on a regular basis. This could be farmers or ranchers, or those needing to study the landscape of a particular area.
It ends up being much more affordable than having to hire a private pilot each time they wanted to take to the sky.
5. Aerial Photography Has Been Around for Decades
Many people think that aerial photography is new, thanks to the growing popularity of drones. These handheld aircraft, controlled by a remote, are taking the world b storm with the ease of aerial photography and videography.
But actually, it’s not new. Helicopters have been used for many decades as a means of aerial photography.
6. They Can Circumnavigate the Globe
Helicopters are generally used as short-distance vehicles. Medium-sized choppers can fly around 300 miles on a single fuel tank.
However, in 1982, the first helicopter to make a trip around the planet took place. Pilots H. Ross Perot Jr. and J. Coburn spent three weeks modifying a helicopter before departing on a 29-day journey that took them to 26 countries.
And surprising enough, there were no mechanical or safety issues during the entire trip.
7. Most Helicopters are Small
Helicopters are not meant for transporting more than a few people at a time. Most non-military helicopters hold fewer than 10 passengers.
They are very sensitive to weight. If you’ve ever taken a tour, you may have been embarrassed to have your tour guide ask you for your specific weight.
When it comes to smaller helicopters, pilots need to know exactly how much weight they are carrying, and it needs to be distributed evenly across the aircraft in order for a safe and smooth flight.
Of course, certain military aircraft are the exception. Some helicopters used today can carry as many as 80 troops at a time. They are also used for large-scale evacuations where they can house up to 60 stretchers.
8. You Can Get a Job as a Helicopter Pilot
Do you dream of spending time in the sky daily? While it takes quite a commitment, it is possible to get your commercial pilot’s license and land a job as a helicopter pilot.
Some of the most common professions include working for a news or media crew, offering private tours, working for the military or non-profit organizations, or working for an emergency medical transportation company.
You can even work for large research companies or the National Forest Service. Not only can you earn a comfortable living, but each and every day can be an absolute adventure.
Far Too Many Facts About Helicopters
When it comes to facts about helicopters, there’s too much to learn. This list barely scratches the surface.
There’s far more to learn about the history and process of designing a helicopter, along with the best helicopters in the sky today. If you are interested in learning more about the different types of helicopters, or other interesting facts in general, be sure to visit our blog today to keep reading.