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Robinson vs. Schweizer training schools??


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Hello all! This is my first post here on this fabulous board, so please forgive me if this has been talked about before to exhaustion. I searched, but did not find a thread on this.


I am a newbie about to take the leap into flight school, and am trying to decide between 2 different schools. One school, like most, trains in the R-22, and R-44. The other school uses the Schweizer 300cbi, and 300c models. Now I must say, I like the schools equally, so my real question is:




Any help would be greatly appreciated! I have been researching going to school for awhile, and this website has been a tremendous help...so thank you to all who contribute!!

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Welcome to the board. And to this addiction. The first question that needs to be asked is what are your goals? Second you need to do a demo flight in both types and see which is more comfortable for you. Next, which school seems more stable. Fist of all you what a school that will be around for awhile, not disappear some night on a holiday weekend. Also you need to be comfortable with the school and its procedures and policies.


If you are looking at this as a career move on your part, the R22 MIGHT be the right choice as many more flight schools use them for flight training. Keep in mind that it is not because it is a better trainer. Even Frank Robinson admits it wasn't designed as a trainer, but because it is cheaper than the 300. With that will your total training costs be less in the R22? Probably not, keeping in mind SFAR 73 and the fact that the 300 instills student confidence much easier. If you are over about 175 pounds, getting an instructor job in an R22 is much more difficult. Keep in mind that many schools use 300's, plus some schools use types like Enstroms, BH47's and Hiller's, however in a much lesser degree. So finding an instructor job will be possible if you train in these other types.


One of the things that Robbie drivers like to point out is how much faster the Robbie is than the 300. WHO cares? You are in a helicopter. You are not going to set any speed records. If you wanted to go fast, you wouldn't be on this board. One this I am starting to see more of is that some schools are claiming that turbine operators 'prefer' pilots with Robinson experience. Unless they operate Robinsons, they DON'T care what your previous experience is in, as long as it is good and you meet the requirements. The exception might be the operators of Bell 407's. With the FEDEC training requirements the FAA is putting on them, I have heard that they like to see pilots that don't have Robinson experience.


I did my commercial and CFI in the 300 and my instrument and CFII in the Enstrom and have not regretted it for a second.


Good luck.

Edited by rick1128
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Having attended two schools - one using R22s, the other using S300s - I have to say I'm split on this.


From a preference standpoint, I really do like the 300 better. I'm 6'1" and appreciate the headroom (especially with a helmet), lack of a governor, a "real" cyclic and the fuel injection of the CBi. Visibility, in my opinion, is much better. I haven't taken a look at measurements, but the 300 cabin feels wider to me, too. I like being a bit further from the ground and I swear I perform much better autorotations - both power recovery and full-downs - in this ship. I can also wear any kneeboard I want. And as God is my witness, electric trim keeps me in the air longer with a much higher comfort factor.


The R22 isn't without some advantages. The governor certainly allows you to focus a bit more on challenging tasks, the rotor brake makes for easier shutdowns, and the entire startup/shutdown sequence is shorter and faster (ultimately saving you ground run time and some money). The little bugger is nimble as all hell, which keeps you on your toes and forces you to adopt a good light stick grip. The teetering rotor system ensures that you stay mindful of certain issues that will undoubtedly come into play as you progress toward larger ships like the 206. The R22 also has the advantage of some useful under-seat storage, which is great when you realize five minutes into your flight that your kneeboard is simply not going to work against the cyclic.


The fact is, though, there are more R22s being used as trainers pretty much everywhere you look. If your intent is to become a private pilot who rents aircraft periodically from a local FBO, I'd recommend finding out what's available and then train in that aircraft. If you intend to go the CFI route and do time-building on your way to bigger things, you'll likely find that starting in an R22 is a good way to go (you have to clear SFAR 73 requirements), because the likelihood is that your time in that ship will be more attractive to a prospective employer who happens to have a half-dozen Robbies in his/her hangar.


I switched from a 300 school to an R22 school and don't regret the extra time in the least - the more ships I can get time in, the better, and it all adds up toward my commercial anyway.


Just remember: you're learning to fly a helicopter, not getting married. I bet you didn't sweat too many bullets trying to figure out which model car was best when preparing for your driving test - and you've learned a great deal from the many different models you've driven since.

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Don't listen to anyone that endorses one aircraft and tells you another is garbage. There are plenty of pro-Robinson, and pro-Schweizer, people out there (not the crowd here on VR though, of course!) that for whatever reason are convinced that whatever they didn't train in is just not a good aircraft. Make sure that whoever you speak to, while you are gathering information, is giving you a balanced view. The school I trained at flies Robinsons, but the owner has nothing bad to say about Schweizers - he thinks they're great aircraft, he just prefers Robbies in terms of cost and hanger space. I have a small amount of Schweizer time, and wish I had more.


I think a good compromise would be to do your private in Schweizer, then switch to Robinson. That's probably what I would do if I went back and did it over again. The best advice is just to get experience in as many different aircraft as possible.

Edited by heli.pilot
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I'd do it the other way around - think how easy flying the 300 would be after doing your private in the Robbie :D As it is, my thumb keeps searching for the trim hat instead of reaching for the bungie knob...


I see your point, and you certainly have more first hand experience in this since you have "been there and done that"!


I was thinking Schweizer first, just because it is so much easier to fly. The quicker someone gets the basics down, the quicker they build confidence and move on to the next stage of training.


I also wonder if a Schweizer school would be more willing to hire a CFI who had 50 hours in a Schweizer and 150 in Robinsons, whereas a Robinson school may be hesitant to hire a guy with 150 hours in Schweizers and only 50 in Robinsons - given how much more "finicky" Robbies are to fly and teach in. Just a thought. Training in Robbies second would also mean that, when it comes to finding work as a CFI, your most recent flying experience is in the most common training aircraft.


Again, YOU have the experience in this area. I'm just trying to put some ideas out there.

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I also trained in both, and when I became a CFI, I wanted ALL my students to have time in both.


Generally, starting off in the 22 made for a really easy transition into the 300 and this is why I think that is. The 22 is not as stable, anyone will tell you that. Once you are able to fly the 22 well, then the only thing you add by going to the 300 is throttle control (which, depending on the 300, is greatly helped by the correlator) which at that level is EASY. Starting in the 300 means you have to deal with the throttle from the start. Not too bad in most maneuvers but when learning quick stops and some other maneuvers, it does tend to make things more difficult. So you start in the 300, with 4 controls to master at once or the robbie with 3. If you start in the 300, sure you get the hang of the throttle (don't get me wrong, it's not difficult), then transition to the 22, now you're dealing with a less stable AC and the cyclic you will HATE at first. It will humble you fast. I always liked to start my students off in the 22, then the 300. Every one of them that did that felt that the 300 was cake to fly. Everyone that I ever saw go from 300 to 22 (including myself) battled the hell of that machine for a while.


To answer your question, I would lean heavily toward a school that has both. Also, your weight (as mentioned by someone else) IS a factor. If you're over 200lbs, you're going to be better off in the 300. Not to say you can't fly the 22 but you will be limited on the students you can train as a CFI (due to the combined weight of both of you and fuel) if you keep your weight. On a side note, this is where a school with an IFR 44 trainer as well is nice so you can focus on the CFII so your weight won't matter. Again, the 22 time would help immensely with controlling the 44.


This is all assuming that you mesh well in either of the school environments that you choose.


Also, don't single out a school based solely on what AC they have. Consider the flying environment. What types of airspace is there for you to get experience in? Any Class C or B around? What about high DA training? Some schools are situated in high DA, some have high DA courses (aka mountain course) and some offer nothing. Just think about the big picture.


Hope this helps

Edited by DynamicallyUnstable
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Simple solution, fly both and build 50 or so hours in each...


No one says you have to limit yourself. You never know where the job is going to come from, and there are plenty of both types of schools out there.


The idea that one is "better" is silly, they both have their positive and negative points. This is why we train students to fly both, it gives a broader range of experience and allows our professional pilot program graduates the best possible chance of getting a job.

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