Bell 206B JetRanger III

Flight Notes - how to fly the JetRanger III

The Bell 206 series has accumulated an astounding array of impressive statistics. More than 6,000 JetRangers are flying worldwide in roles as diverse as corporate transportation, police surveillance, and United States Army aviation training. The series has flown over 26 million flight hours, and a few JetRangers are flying with more than 30,000 hours on their airframes.

The JetRanger design was derived from a Light Observation Helicopter (LOH) proposal Bell submitted to the United States Army in the 1960s. Though it lost out to a Hughes Aircraft Company design, Bell decided to develop the model as the 206 for the civilian market.

Despite Bell's best efforts, the original LOH design was found unsuitable for conversion to civilian use, primarily because of its limited carrying capacity. Engineers started over with an entirely new fuselage, resulting in an elegant teardrop-shaped aircraft that would seat five and carry their baggage, too.

Due to rising costs of the Hughes helicopter, the LOH competition was reopened in 1967, and Bell's 206 won this round. The 206 was purchased by the Army and put to work under the designation OH–58A. JetRangers are still serving in the armed forces. The newest model in uniform is the TH–67 Creek primary trainer. The United States Army credits a rise in student grades and a drop in course failures to the use of the Creek in training programs.

It's as a civilian aircraft, however, that the JetRanger has seen its biggest success. The original 206 has evolved into the JetRanger II and the JetRanger III, both incorporating major upgrades to more powerful engines.

Although helicopters are inherently unstable and difficult to fly, testimony to the JetRanger's ease of handling is the fact that it can be certified for single-pilot IFR operation. In 1994, Texas businessman Ron Bower flew a Bell 206B JetRanger III solo around the world. Bower navigated across 21 countries and 24 time zones in 24 days. By the end of the journey, he'd flown over 23,000 miles and had broken the previous around-the-world helicopter speed record by nearly five days.

The JetRanger III costs less to operate and maintain than any other craft in its class and has the highest resale value of any light helicopter. A winning formula for safety and value has made the JetRanger the world's most popular helicopter series.


U.S. Metric
Cruise Speed 115 knots 132 mph 213 km per hour
Engine Allison 250-C20J 420 shaft horsepower
Maximum Range 435 nm 500 miles 805 km
Service Ceiling 20,000 feet 6,096 meters
Hovering Ceiling 19,600 feet 5,974 meters
Fuel Capacity 91 U.S. gallons 344 liters
Empty Weight 1,640 pounds 744 kilograms
Maximum Gross Weight 3,200 pounds 1,451 kilograms
Maximum Gross Weight (External Loading) 3,350 pounds 1,519 kilograms
Length 31.2 feet 9.51 meters
Rotor Span 33.3 feet 10.15 meters
Height 11.7 feet 3.51 meters
Seating Up to 5
Useful Load 1,498 pounds 679 kilograms