Franchitti Tries Out New X3 Helicopter
In addition to his driving activities for Target Chip Ganassi Racing in the IZOD IndyCar Series, the four-time series champion is also an experienced helicopter pilot, having flown and owned a Eurocopter EC120 and AS350 B3.
After attending Wednesday’s debut of the new X3 at American Eurocopter in Grand Prairie, Texas, with more than 1,000 other guests, Franchitti had the opportunity to take a flight of his own in the high-speed demonstrator.
He attended a briefing conducted by Eurocopter flight test engineers to go over the unique characteristics of the X3 before climbing into the co-pilot seat for a 20-minute test run.
With speeds of more than 264 mph, the X3 surpasses Franchitti’s top speeds of 235 mph reached on the straightaways of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and are considerably faster than those of a conventional helicopter, such as the AS350 B3, which has a fast cruise speed of 157 mph. The X3 also has the ability to ascend 10,000 feet per minute.
After touching down at the conclusion of his test run, Franchitti was all smiles, saying he was impressed with the speed and handling of the X3.