The Sikorsky S-61 is a series of civil transport helicopters developed and produced by the American aircraft manufacturer Sikorsky Aircraft. It is a derivative of the SH-3 Sea King military helicopter, and was developed to fulfill a 1957 U.S. Navy requirement for an anti-submarine warfare helicopter.
The first model, the S-61L, conducted its maiden flight in November 1961 and was certified for commercial airline service in December of that year. The S-61L features a modified landing gear that eliminates the float stabilizers, and is powered by two 1,350 shp (1,010 kW) GE CT58-110 turboshafts. It has a maximum operating altitude of 12,500′, a normal cruise speed of 115 KTS/133 MPH, and a 311 NM/358 SM seats-full range.
The cabin measures 06’03” high, 06’03” wide, and 31’00” long, with a volume of 1160 cu ft. The S-61N is an amphibious variant of the S-61L, featuring a conventional, though watertight, hull instead of the S-61’s boat-hull. It has a 00′ balanced field length and 00′ landing distance.
The S-61N also has a maximum takeoff weight of 20500 Lb. The S-61R is a twin-engine helicopter used in transport or search and rescue roles. It features a substantially revised fuselage with a rear loading ramp, and retractable tricycle landing gear. The US Air Force placed an order for the aircraft, which was designated CH-3C, and used it to recover downed pilots.
A unique version is the S-61 Shortsky, a conversion of S-61Ls and S-61Ns performed by Helipro International. VIH Logging was the launch customer for HeliPro’s Shortsky, which performed its first flight during February 1996. At the end of twenty years production, Sikorsky produced the last S-61 in 1980. Sikorsky licensees in Great Britain, Japan, Canada, and Italy have produced an additional 200+ helicopters.
The Sikorsky S-61R is one of the best helicopters out there. It was used by the military as a heavy-lift, medium range helicopter. This helicopter is no longer in production and it can be hard to find available models. If you are able to find one, you may need to expect a heavy price tag ranging from $1 million up to $4 million dollars.
To buy it new or used? That’s the question. If you’re looking for an extremely used model, you could probably cut your cost down to about $2 million.