Flying the new R44 Cadet helicopter

My first helicopter flight of 2019 was an exciting one because I had a familiarisation flight in Heli Air’s newest machine, the brand new R44 Cadet. After going back to flying the R22 for a while, it was great to be able to exercise my R44 type rating again, and as it’s been a while since I’ve written a flying post, I thought you might like to see some photos and learn a bit more about this fantastic new machine.

The Cadet is described by Robinson Helicopters as being for people who “want the economy of a small helicopter without sacrificing the power and performance of a large helicopter”, and it sits between the R22 and the R44 Raven II. It’s basically a two-seat R44, with the rear seats replaced with lidded storage space.

With just nine hours on the clock, this is by far the newest aircraft of any kind that I’ve ever flown. You know that nice ‘new car’ smell? Well you get that with helicopters too! Heli Air’s fleet is always immaculate, but being brand new, this one is even more gleaming than normal.

It’s equipped with Bose A20s, noise-cancelling headsets that make the whole experience of flying so much nicer.

With the Aspen PFD (the electronic display, for non-pilots), and of course the trusty iPad for GPS, this one is also equipped with nicer avionics than the helicopters I’ve flown before. It’s handy having the limit MAP chart on the cyclic instead of the ceiling, too.


For those of you familiar with the R44, the Cadet is closer in spec to the Raven I than the Raven II, with the same engine (slightly derated), airframe and rotor system as the Raven I but with these differences:

  • No seats in the back – luggage bays instead
  • Lower max all-up weight of 2,200lb (Raven I: 2,400lb; Raven II: 2,500lb)
  • VNE (max speed, for non-pilot readers) of 120kts (Raven I & II: 130kts)
  • For prospective owners (sadly not me!), time between overhaul is extended to 2,400 hours

As you can see in this pic, we comfortably got 110 kts pulling 22 inches. The rate of climb was fantastic too, at well over 1,000ft per minute. I had the collective almost fully lowered to get it back down to the airfield – it just loves flying!

It’s perfect for people like me, because I’m rarely (if ever) going to go flying with four people, so I only need two seats, and the self-fly hire rate is cheaper than the Raven II, so I can save a bit of money. I don’t weigh very much, so the lower max all-up weight isn’t an issue for me, and there’s loads of luggage space for if I wanted to take it on a hotel trip or something. From an aesthetic point of view, it’s also much easier on the eye than the R22.

To see the R44 Cadet in action, click play to watch this cool video from Heli Air:

If you’re interested in flying the R44 Cadet (or indeed any of the other helicopters in this picture!), it’s at Heli Air’s Wellesbourne base and you can email Matthew Browne or callĀ 01789 470476 for more information.

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