While Silver State Helicopters operated more than 200 helicopters at its numerous training locations, trying to track their current whereabouts is a daunting task.
Despite repeated efforts to contact the principals involved in the bankruptcy liquidation of Silver State’s assets, little information was garnered from them with regard to the disposition of the training school’s fleet. Sky Helicopters of Garland, Texas, is the court-appointed agent for the liquidation of the company’s 177 Robinson R22s and R44s. According to Connie Pyatt, Sky’s vice president, the helicopters had been moving. “Until the economy started to crater late last year, [the sales] were very swift.”
As of last month, Sky listed 38 R22s for sale on its Web site, with prices ranging from $100,796 for one with less than 1,000 hours left before its third overhaul, to $186,425 for newly overhauled machines. The nine R44s were priced between $178,909 and $353,672.
It seems many of these Robinson helicopters have since found their way to other flight schools. Some were picked up new from the factory still in their Silver State blue-with-silver-stripe paint scheme. “They [Robinson] sent out a fax to all the dealers and we bought them. [Silver State] never even took delivery,” said Chin Tu, CEO of Carlsbad, Calif.-based Civic Helicopters, who added two R22s to his fleet of 10 helicopters. “I didn’t have them repainted. What for? I use them for training.”
Other schools also augmented their fleets. Hillsboro Aviation in Oregon, for example, took six former Silver State R22s. “I’m not a maintenance guy, but my understanding is they were well maintained,” said Ryan McCartney, Hillsboro’s flight school manager.
For those with the facilities to overhaul them, bargains were found among the company’s timed-out rotorcraft. “I purchased three of Silver State’s run-out helicopters,” said John Stonecipher, president and CEO of Guidance Helicopters of Prescott, Ariz. “There’s 2,200 hours time between overhaul on the dynamic components of the R22 and we purchased all of these machines at 2,200 hours, meaning they were run-out and had to be rebuilt,” he said. “We invested about $120,000 per aircraft in refurbishing each.”