I am a huge rotorhead—I think it is reasonable to say I’m the biggest rotorhead at Qt3—and my vote goes to the Mi-8, for a number of reasons.
- More interesting weapons. The Russians, through long experience in Afghanistan, a) built rockets of many and sundry varieties, and b) made sure to mount them on all their helicopters, even the transports.
- More interesting flying experience. The Mi-8 is a nice middle ground between more or less automatic helos like the Ka-50, and very manual helos like the Huey. Which brings me to…
- More interesting systems. The Huey is very basic; there isn’t much to it beyond what there is in the Spitfire or Mustang. The Mi-8 has an autopilot which isn’t as nice as the Ka-50’s, but still present, and it’s one of the more stable helos I’ve flown without being too sterile. It also has a curious manual Doppler navigation system, which gives you offsets but doesn’t feed them into any kind of navigational computer.
I recorded a fun SAR mission last summer, which gives you a feel for the capabilities of the thing, and for my helo piloting of limited skill. :P