By continuing to use this site, you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more
Forum sponsored by:
Forum sponsored by CML

Choosing the 10 best Helicopters of all time.

All Topics | Latest Posts

Search for:  in Thread Title in  
Dave Bran03/01/2016 07:15:30
1896 forum posts
5 photos

While waiting for BEB to watch the video and report, I sat down to make my own list, so my answer would not be affected by what might appear.

Its significantly harder to do Helicopters justice compared to Fighters and Bombers.

This is partly to do with criteria, how much do numbers produced affect thinking? Or lives saved? Or battles fought successfully?. Even what actually IS a Helicopter?

For MY list I have ignored hybrids like the Osprey, the Rotordyne, or any machine where forward motion is not solely generated and controlled from the main lift rotor(s).

The next problem is best explained by example. Lets say I feel the Chinook should be considered for my list. But the "Chinook" is just one small variant in a large model range around the same platform. What do or do you not include in the thinking? How do you even NAME what you want included?

It gets very very subjective very quickly! Many named models have variants that are very specific. If you include the Jet Ranger, do you include the Long Ranger? The OH-58 Kiowa? The "best" helicopters have so many differences model to model that linking is quite tenuous at times!

Even the large numbers of Jet Rangers around disguise its origins, it arose from an unsuccessful bid for the US Army Light Observation Helicopter competition in 1961/62, won by Hughes. Yes, THAT long ago!! So should the Hughes be in and the Jet Ranger out?

I'm NOT going to show my list now, I'll wait for BEB to watch the DVD and report.

I have compiled one though............................

Peter Christy03/01/2016 09:26:59
1877 forum posts

I think the Bell 47 has to be the top of the list! IIRC, it was the first helicopter to gain a commercial airworthiness certificate, saved hundreds of lives in its "medevac" role in Korea, and proved to be so useful that the British Army was still using them certainly in the 70s and maybe beyond. I believe they were in production for around 40 years, and at one time held the record for the most produced helicopter. Indeed, I believe that someone in the States has acquired the rights and put them back in to production again! **LINK** (scroll down a little way).

Who can forget "Whirlybirds" or "MASH"? Surely the most iconic helicopter of all time!




cymaz03/01/2016 09:27:04
9334 forum posts
1211 photos

Bell UH-1?...oh I love the smell of ...etc....etc..


Although when I were a lad...this was my ideal 

Edited By cymaz on 03/01/2016 09:35:01

Cuban803/01/2016 10:12:41
3035 forum posts
1 photos

Got to be the Bell 47. Even in films or TV if a helicopter noise is needed to be added - no matter what the machine is in view, usually it'll be a Bell 47 that will be heard.

Nothing to beat a Westland Lynx in the speed stakes though.

Colin Carpenter03/01/2016 10:18:51
650 forum posts
36 photos

I'm whistling Suicide is Painless as I type!!!!!! Built a Morley Bell 47 for someone , once. It was OK for the time - 80`s. But my favourite is the Piaseki Flying Bananna .


Andrew Dunn 103/01/2016 10:19:10
25 forum posts
4 photos
Posted by cymaz on 03/01/2016 09:27:04:

Bell UH-1?...oh I love the smell of ...etc....etc..

Although when I were a lad...this was my ideal

Edited By cymaz on 03/01/2016 09:35:01

Love the look of the spectrum i remember it as a kid , any auto gyro builders/pilots out there want to build one ?

Tony F03/01/2016 10:20:25
484 forum posts
105 photos
I know what would be on the top of my list ! The Sea King especially from my days at D flight 202 sqn Lossiemouth. How many lives has the sea king saved in its time ? It's versatile and resilient, all the right requirements to be top

Peter Christy03/01/2016 15:26:24
1877 forum posts
Posted by Cuban8 on 03/01/2016 10:12:41:

Got to be the Bell 47. Even in films or TV if a helicopter noise is needed to be added - no matter what the machine is in view, usually it'll be a Bell 47 that will be heard.

Glad somebody else has spotted that! When I was a video editor in TV news, I always tried to make sure I had a suitable helicopter soundtrack available. The problem was that the first one on the standard issue effects CD was a Bell 47, and that seemed to get used every time!

I did try to educate my colleagues, but news editing was often a last minute rush to get the story on the air ("If it ain't late, it ain't news!!!", so often the first thing to hand had to suffice.....!



J D 803/01/2016 16:27:18
1588 forum posts
87 photos

Westland Whirlwind my favorite, always one around as I grew up, On the farm I have a small mountain with a trig point on top and one pilot used to practice his hover resting a main wheel on it !

At the RNAS later RAF Brawdy air day it was always wound up with a large key before lifting off with a brave airman as a witch on a broom stick hanging below.smiley

 As a volunteer  Coastguard have experienced flights in Seakings including being winched off a cliff for practice and have to say flying along on the end of a bit of wire was somewhat interesting to say the least.

Edited By john davies 8 on 03/01/2016 16:37:07

Biggles' Elder Brother - Moderator03/01/2016 17:17:26
15748 forum posts
1460 photos

Oh dear - I sense there is going to be a lot of dissapointment and disagreement here! You see I've watched the video, and they don't agree with you at all. True we haven't seen Dave's list yet of course, maybe he'll agree - but we'll see!

So, here is the DVD's list - this time basically without comments from me (what I know about helicopters you could fit on the back of a postage stamp in block capitals and still find room for the Lord's Prayer!)

1. AH64D Apache

2. UH60 Black Hawk

3. UH-1 Huey

4. AH-1 Cobra

5. OH-6 Cayuse (I'd never even heard of that!)

6. MI-24 Hind (or that!)

7. CH47 Chinook

8. Augusta-Westland Lynx

9. Focke Achelis Fa223 (or that!)

10. Bell 47.

I'll just step back and listen now and let you chaps knowledgable about such matters discuss that little lot!


Robin Colbourne03/01/2016 17:24:03
650 forum posts
17 photos

1. Bell UH-1 & AH-1 (Set the standard for the layout of medium sized helicopters from then on, and the first true gunship)

2. Boeing Vertol CH-47 Chinook (55 years and still no sign of a competitor)

3. Sikorsky Sea King & S-61 (SAR & mainstay of offshore oil & gas)

4. Mil Mi-24 Hind (It just looks so mean!)

5. Robinson R22 (Probably trains more ab initio heli pilots than any other)

6. Bell 47G (For the same reasons that others have mentioned)

7. Bell Jet/Long Ranger (before the Agusta 109, this was the one to have if you made your million)

8. Sikorsky S-58 & Westland Wessex (Did their job without fanfare for years and years)

9. Aerospatiale Alouette/Lama (if you needed to get on or off a mountain, for years there was no better way.  Also holds the world helicopter absolute altitude AND auto-rotation record from 40,812ft - the engine stalled...)

10. Mil Mi-26 (Nothing else even comes close in the lifting stakes)


I would love to put the S-64 Skycrane and Kaman Kmax in as personal favourites, but they are just not numerous enough. The CH-53 family should probably get a mention too. I'm sure the DVD will have the UH-60 Blackhawk and AH-64 Apache in the top 10, but there is a world outside of the USA.


Edited By Robin Colbourne on 03/01/2016 17:45:20

leccyflyer03/01/2016 17:42:08
1583 forum posts
332 photos

9 Wessexes and a Sea King

Robin Colbourne03/01/2016 17:48:10
650 forum posts
17 photos

Leccyflyer thumbs up LOL!!!

You must be an ex-serviceman!

Dave Bran03/01/2016 18:41:17
1896 forum posts
5 photos

OK, here's my top ten:-

1. Sikorsky SH-3/Westland Sea KIng family

2. Bell UH-1 Huey/Iroquois family.

3. Westland Lynx

4.CH-47/Chinook and variants

5. Ah-64 Apache

6. Jet Ranger (1961 to date)

Equal 6th. Hughes/MD 500/500E and OH-6 family (also 1961 to date)

8. MD 900 series (the arch-typical worldwide HEMS/Police unit, esp in NOTAR form).

9. Agusta A109 (inc military and HEMS variants)

Equal 9th. Eurocopter Squirrel/Twin Squirrel (also inc HEMS and military variants)

No, No Bell 47, and no Sikorsky S-52/Westland Dragonfly, either, much as I love both of them. I do not use rose tinted glasses! Both historically important but "best", well, "only choice available" isn't best. Whoever thought of strapping casualties in a "coffin" and flying them on the skids should have been made to do it until they sobered up. Underpowered, poor flying ability, they were more a testament to the skill and testicular girth of their pilots than a decent machine to be top ten listed.

BTW, the "Hind" is deserving, but I have excluded soviet block machines, because I can.........................

TBH, the order is near impossible to "grade". JMHO...........other versions are available.

Dave (owner of RC models of A109, Eurocopter twin squirrel, Huey, Dragonfly, Lynx, BO-105, and a Whirlwind being built)

Dave Hopkin03/01/2016 18:41:29
3672 forum posts
294 photos

Oh come on, you cannot be serious!!!! ................ not one mention of the meccano and goldfish bowl egg beater? The Westland Sioux

1) UH-1 Set the standard for medium helos

2) Mi-26 You want anything shifting....

3) Mi-24 Hind Set the benchmark for gunships

4) Sikorsky H-34/Wessex

5) CH-47 Chinook the big wop wop

6) Westland Lynx Fastest

7) Westland Sioux

8) AH-64 Apache

Peter Christy03/01/2016 18:45:03
1877 forum posts

BEB: I think the OH-6 Cayuse is the military version of the Hughes 500.

I see some over-priced and under-performing machines in there. I'm very surprised that the JetRanger isn't on their list, as its supposedly the safest single-engined aircraft (fixed or rotary wing) ever made - if the accident statistics are to be believed.......

Many years ago, I was approached by an apparently knowledgeable gentleman enquiring about my RC helicopter, which he had seen flying. I commented on his apparent familiarity with such machines, and he told me he was a pilot for Bristow Helicopters.

"Ah! You fly the full size ones!", I said.

"No!", he replied. "I'm their fixed wing pilot. You won't get me up in a helicopter. A bunch of metal fatigue surrounded by an oil leak!"




Dave Bran03/01/2016 19:28:46
1896 forum posts
5 photos

DH................. wink 2wink 2

That's Sioux, pronounced Sucks.

Mi-26, great machine, provided you catch it on one of the three days a year that it's serviceable.

The Lynx was the fastest because they modded it quite heavily to do so. It's speed has now finally been bettered, by "something" with front egg beaters as well as one on top...(not ratified yet AFAIK) that cheating more than they did to the Lynx? (I think so, but............................)

Dave Bran04/01/2016 05:40:16
1896 forum posts
5 photos
Posted by Dave Hopkin on 03/01/2016 18:41:29:

3) Mi-24 Hind Set the benchmark for gunships

The Hind was a battlefield infantry support Heli, large enough to carry troops. It was very versatile, but its bulk removed one of the main attributes needed for a true "gunship". Yes, it was infinitely more capable close in down and dirty than the effectively unarmoured modded Hueys, etc, which were the spur to gunship progression.

So, is the Hind a gunship? No. (and I know you did not say it was Dave, not knocking at all) Did it give the western authorities a kick up the rear to get really urgently working on something that was? Yes. Should it be in a list of bests? Undoubtedly, esp as it was one of the relatively few occasions when soviet helicopter design raced ahead of the west and was not copying or catching up.

In the west the two roles of attack and battlefield support diverged to separate entities, and brought such delights as the Osprey, capable (on occasion when not falling out of the sky) of fast troop placement, but vulnerable as hell and needing in many if not all scenarios protection from the small light true attack role machines.

My personal interest is the history of using the helicopter as a force for peace, so HEMS, etc. In that respect the major design improvements came with fenestral tails and NOTAR, enabling much more close to public and scenery ground work with greater safety for all involved. Also the shorter stubby higher rotor arc proportions more suitable for urban use.

I'm no "expert", hate the term, but I do know a medevac pilot (Kent Air Ambulance) and saw a fair bit of action close to when my son owned a house bordering and facing the park they used to land in as Kings had no Heli Pad.

One of the most exciting landings there I saw had the Sussex Air Ambulance coming in on top of what the pilot thought was a short mown cricket pitch. It was not close mown grass, it was loose Astroturf , and blew up in the downwash turbulence, coming VERY close to entering the main rotor arc.

Waiting Police who had to turn out every time had cleared away people walking dogs and kids playing, but had not fully assessed the site as clear and safe! That was as the pilot said, close to having more than one casualty to deal with, and could he please use the house to change his trousers?

I'm not sure how they dealt with the take off, as I had t leave, but the Heli skids were partially on top of the folded rumpled strip of loose material. I assume they had to cut it away.

If you want a laugh, and want to follow battlefield support "gunship" history back, right back, read up on "Rosie the Rocketer" (usually written as Rocketeer but not spelt that way on the machine).

Dave Bran04/01/2016 05:45:02
1896 forum posts
5 photos

Posted by Peter Christy on 03/01/2016 18:45:03:

I'm very surprised that the JetRanger isn't on their list

AND its American origin...........................Don't tell 'em, they'll take the Lynx off.

Dave Bran04/01/2016 05:58:38
1896 forum posts
5 photos
Posted by Peter Christy on 03/01/2016 18:45:03:

I see some over-priced and under-performing machines in there. I

I might (just) agree on the Cobra, and the FA223 is totally wrongly listed, first successful, yes, but best ever?

But overpriced and underperforming? Which ones please?

The Blackhawk/Jayhawk etc family operates "below the radar", in both senses, and is usually overlooked, but is way better than its given credit for.

All Topics | Latest Posts

Please login to post a reply.

Latest Forum Posts
Support Our Partners
electricwingman 2017
Sussex Model Centre
Advertise With Us
Latest "For Sale" Ads
NEW POLL - has the pandemic altered your event safety perceptions?
Q: Has the covid pandemic deterred you from attending shows and events in 2021?

 No, I'll be attending just as many as I usually do
 No, but I'll choose my event with greater care
 Yes, I'll attend fewer events going forward
 Yes, I wont attend any where previously I have

Latest Reviews
Digital Back Issues

RCM&E Digital Back Issues

Contact us

Contact us

Magazine Locator

Want the latest issue of RCM&E? Use our magazine locator link to find your nearest stockist!

Find RCM&E!