Flying is certainly not a cheap hobby and many people who would like helicopter flying lessons are put off by the price. However, there are ways of making it more affordable and such options should be considered before booking and paying upfront for a course of lessons.
One option is too look around for scholarships and bursaries offered by specific airfields or flying associations. There are not many available, and they mainly favour people under the age of 26, but application levels are normally low, so you have a reasonable chance of securing one if you do your research and put forward a good case for why you deserve one.
An oft-heard piece of advice is that those wanting helicopter lessons can save money by first learning to fly fixed-wing aircraft. Certainly, if you can already fly airplanes, helicopter training will be easier and you may need fewer lessons. However, the saving to be made by requiring fewer hours of helicopter pilot training is pretty much cancelled out by the cost of initially learning to fly fixed-wing aircraft. Any saving to be made is minimal, and so for those starting with no flying experience, it is probably best to dive straight in with helicopters.
It traditionally was, and sometimes still is, possible to obtain free or cheaper lessons in exchange for washing aircraft or doing voluntary handy work at a local airfield or flying school. Some small airfields may also offer to train you to be an operator, and pay you with reduced rate or free flying. You may not have any luck, but it will certainly be worth contacting your local airfield to see if anything like this is possible. Volunteering at an airfield will also help you become more comfortable and confident around aircraft and bring you into contact with pilots who can offer you advice and, if you’re lucky, maybe even some unofficial flying lessons.
The high costs of maintaining a helicopter and having experts on hand to offer lessons means that helicopter training will never be cheap. However, if you are canny and do your research, achieving the dream of being a trained helicopter pilot need not be as expensive as it first appears.