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Bell 47/Introduction


Canadian47
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Hello everyone,

I have been reading these forums for a while now and figure it is about time I de-lurk.

My perspective is a little different from most here in that I have not been (nor likely will ever be) paid to fly. I believe that pilot should always be training so despite never having worked as a pilot, I hold a fixed wing ATPL (Canadian ATP) and Commercial helicopter license. I am however a student of all things aviation and I have learn a lot from these forums.

I fly a 1964 Bell 47G-4 which I acquired about 2.5 years ago. With the exception of about 10 hours, all of my ~200 of helicopter time has been in my '47...most fun I have ever had with my cloths on.

I'd love to hear any Bell 47 flying/maintenance tips or stories you have.

Glenn

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Hi Glenn,

 

Welcome to the forum! I'm stoked you fly such an iconic helicopter. I did my TC commercial with Chinook Helicopters in Abbotsford BC in a 47G-2. Now that I fly full time for a living I look back fondly on those amazing first 100 hours. It seemed like magic everyday learning new things in the hovering goldfish bowl. I had a hydraulic emergency (long story) in the old girl which resulted in 3 cyclic hard overs. Fortunately I wasn't solo and between my 20,000 hour instructor and me we got it safely on the ground after quite a drunken spinning struggle! My advice, remember if the engine quits so does your hydraulic system because the pump is engine driven. So, practise hydraulic off to a high standard so you can flare, level, and land if you have a real engine failure because you lose the boosted controls too.

 

Awesome machine, have fun, safe flying!

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The Bell 47 is a very iconic ship - what's it like to fly? What do you like about it most? What are the running costs like?

I don't have much time in any other helicopter, 1 hour in an Enstrom an a couple of rides in R44 so I'm afraid I don't have much to offer except that my Bell 47G-4 has weighted metal blades with lots of rotor inertia and that it is stable enough that I can take my hand off the cyclic and scratch my nose if I need to :P

 

A 12 year overhaul wouldn't work for me so didn't consider any Robinson product, so I would say that one of the best things is that there are NO calendar limit components and nobody out there writing new airworthiness directives. Also if you are going to spend money on a toy it should be a cool one :D

 

Operating costs comparisons are greatly influenced by how many hours you fly/year but I would guess somewhere between and R22 and an R44. So far access to parts hasn't been an issue.

 

Glenn

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Whistlerpilot,

 

I started my training at Chinook as well. I put a few hours in their 47G-2's to check them out before I committed to a '47 for myself.

 

Always happy to see somebody from there (or anywhere for that matter) “make it” as a working pilot. The training they gave me was exceptional, learning from 10,000+ hour instructors was a very different experience. Unfortunately, I think a lot of the wide-eyed students that I met there were in for a rude awakening when they went looking for work.

 

Good point on the hydraulics. I'm 5'5” but my bird was obviously designed with somebody much taller in mind. I fly with 4 inches of cushions behind me. Without this and my arm extended to reach the cyclic I wouldn't have the strength to deal with a hydraulics failure.

 

Glenn

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The Bell 47 is a very iconic ship - what's it like to fly? What do you like about it most? What are the running costs like?

 

The view is absolutely unbelievable, seriously. The one I first took a ride in was what they called a Super G and it had a lay down instrument panel STC, which took something great and made it even better. I'll never forget my first ride, the floorboard ends at your feet and just past your toes you can see the ground through the bubble. It really was like a magic carpet ride.

 

As far as what its like to fly, you really have to judge your pitch attitude by the relationship between the rotor disc and the horizon. In a R44 for comparison, where you can barely see the rotor disc in your field of view, I utilize the vertical card compass and/or top of the dashboard to set my pitch attitude. When time comes to transition to a 206, the disc to horizon relationship, cyclic position and feel are nearly identical.

 

The guy that taught me how to fly in his D1 really liked the D1 for training as similar to the R22 it is thin on power margins. Having a manual throttle forces you to think through what you are about to do before you do it. Example - about to make a left pedal turn in a hover, have to anticipate needing to squeeze on the throttle, do I have enough power to do so ? Step that idea up a notch, any maneuver that requires addition of throttle, you got to think long before you do it - do I have enough power to do it safely ? Similar to when you hear fighter pilots talk about avoiding "square corners". Also not totally unlike high altitude jet operations and the "coffin corner". Two totally different things a world far and away from helicopters but the idea is to not put yourself in a bad situation. R44 now come with "full throttle indicator lamps" I guess for this same reason, I haven't seen one personally. I thought the combination of the manifold pressure gauge and rrpm gauge was enough but.... hey, let's replace knowledge with lights ? I dunno, I digress....

 

The Bell 47 could be had in a multitude of configurations from the factory. Add in that any remaining models could be a hodge podge of parts and every ship you get into is unique - Narrow cabin, wide cabin. short stack, tall panel, lay down panel, turbo, non-turbo, weighted blades, non-weighted blades, etc etc etc. So running cost are going to vary widely from operator to operator based on parts alone as some are rarer than others. The D1 with wooden "lifetime" blades is fairly reasonable to get into and operate though the Franklin engine parts can be difficult.

 

Most importantly to me is the transmission design. There are "shear bolts" inside the transmission and there is enough mass in the blades that if the transmission were to lock up on you for some reason the inertia of the blades will shear these bolts off and allow you to safely autorotate. If the Robinson transmission locks up, you're dead. The 47 is a very very safe ship to fly. I've had two engine failures in 47s and put both down without any further damage to machine or occupants.The inertia in the blades makes for a very easy auto.

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I can tell you the B47 is built like a tank. Nothing comes close anymore. Bury the tail rotor in the dirt (gotta watch the flare angle with that long tail boom) and then go do some night flights, it will still carry you home.

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My first helicopter ride was in a 47 at city fest when I was 12 years old. I can't remember if it was 2 or 3 of us crammed in that bench seat with the pilot, but since I was the smallest I got stuck in the middle. He was taking off from a church parking lot and giving 5 minute rides around town for something like $30 a pop. Best city fest ever. The time 3 doors down came was a close 2nd.

 

I do remember that tiny floor board making for an awesome view, even for someone sitting in the middle! Thanks for the article link.

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If you're ever in Central Florida, check out Guardian Aviation LLC based out of Winter Haven's Gilbert Field (KGIF)... They utilize a Bell 47 G2.

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Hello All,

 

My first ride in a 47 was at a carnival where they were giving rides for $10 bucks a pop or something like that as it was long ago. I remember my girlfriend was in the middle and I was on the door and of course there was no door. It wasn't a long ride and I remember the tail kicking back and forth as the pilot was correcting with the rudder pedal. What I remember most was the landing where the pilot threw the machine it into a hard bank as I was looking straight down hoping the seat belt did not come undone just prior to leveling off and flaring to land. He gave me no warning that was going to happen. I will never forget that moment for as long as I live.

 

Bill

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