A look at an HAI member up close and personal.
High Performance Helicopters (HP Helicopters) provides a variety of heavy-lift helicopter operations, from precision services to aerospace research and development and air support, throughout the Western United States.
Based in Crestline, California, HP Helicopters operates its own FAA type-certificated HP60 heavy-lift helicopter, a version of the Bell 205, and a high-performance light Agusta 119, providing solutions for projects in the most rugged environments for customers ranging from general contractors to the federal government.
The HP60 is one of HP Helicopters’ most notable achievements. In 2017, the company, which was founded in 2005, was certified by the FAA to produce civilian versions of Sikorsky’s UH-60A helicopters under HP’s own type certificate, giving the company the ability to upgrade and modify the aircraft for civilian operation or resale. The high-performance, medium-lift HP60 is equipped with composite parts, boosting the aircraft’s hot, high, and heavy capabilities, and allowing it to maintain a gross weight performance of up to 11,500 ft. pressure altitude.
For the HP60, HP purchases previously owned government UH-60 helicopters, fully demilitarizes the aircraft, and modifies them with upgraded technology, including glass cockpits and the latest digital communication and navigation systems found in VFR civilian aircraft.
The HP60 also features upgrades for heavy-lift work, including a vertical reference bubble window, a cargo-hook load weigh system, a 1,100-gal. fixed fire tank, a 900-gal. power-fill variable-drop firefighting Bambi Bucket, and multiple longlines, cargo hooks, nets, and other external-load gear.
Operations and Services
HP Helicopters’ varied operations include utility-infrastructure support, firefighting, remote-area construction, aerospace research and development, forest conservation, heli-logging, emergency frost control, animal control and relocation, motorsports air support, and more. The operator also specializes in working with private organizations and government agencies to support test programs involving autonomous delivery of equipment and materials, including spacecraft retrieval, research and development, transport parachute deployment, and lost-asset recovery.
HP Helicopters has a long history of supporting off-road motorsports, having chased and supported many teams and top drivers in intense Baja off-road races, including the Mint 400, Parker 425, Baja 500, and Baja 1000. With cars racing at more than 130 mph through the desert, mishaps can happen quickly, with help hours away.
When supporting Baja races, HP’s helicopters are equipped with auxiliary fuel tanks for more than four hours of continuous flight time, and they carry fire-suppression and driver-extraction equipment in the event of a crash. In addition to potential emergency responses, the helicopters can provide drivers with advanced notice of imminent danger associated with oncoming traffic, spectators, motorcycles, wrecks, and livestock.