is yet another of my unrealized lifelong ambitions - building and flying an autogyro. The state of the art has advanced
significantly since the early garage-based and corporate experimenters. Companies such as
Autogyro USA sells a number
of models for private pilots with both open and fully enclosed cockpits. The Bensen Autogyro was the craft du jour
in the 1970s, with articles appearing in all the handyman and airplane magazines of the day. My appetite was sufficiently
whetted, albeit well beyond the means of my meager paycheck. I vowed to build one when my finances would allow. I'm
going on 52 still waiting. There are quite a few model autogyros flying with plenty of plans and a kit or two available
if you would like to build one. A simple Google search will locate them for you.
Here are two handfuls (10)
of early models of both helicopters and autogyros that, aside from the familiar Bensen, you might never have heard
More of Those Fabulous Mini-Copters
Photos and Text by Howard Levy
"Baby J," tiny 1-place jet-powered under development in Bahamas Islands by L. G. Jervis. Constructed from
airplane junk pile, due to lack of parts and stainless steel on the island. Main fuselage section is aircraft stretcher;
tail boom 1/2" conduit; controls 3/8" water pipe; rudder is radio base plate; B-29 hydraulic brake cylinder shaft
is rotor shaft; auto brake drum rotor head; ignition system from Model T; hand-barrow wheels on landing gear. Powerplants
are Jervis' own valveless design developing 100 lbs thrust each, likewise from junk pile; B·29 hydraulic shaft makes
up combustion chamber, remainder consists of B-29 exhaust stacks, plus Texaco oil cans forming air intake venturi.
Fuselage length 7'; height 8'; empty weight 800 lbs; gross weight 600 lbs; rotor dia. 20'; est. top speed 40 mph.
Ground tested, made jump-like "free flight."
"Libellula" (Dragonfly) single-place co-axial configuration flown in Italy in '53. Powered by German 105
hp Hirth engine, cruising speed of 65 mph; gross wt of 1430 lbs, rotor dia. 26'.
Engine & Construction Corporation Model 100 shown in '47; early attempt at tiny personal craft. Simplified
flight control system which eliminated separate cyclic and collective controls and pedals; all controls combined on
single stick, actuated similar to auto. 76 hp Continental engine fitted with jet exhaust cooling system. Plywood construction;
seated pilot with 200 lb baggage. Rotor dia., 18', gross wt, 750 lbs; max. speed, 95-100 mph; cruising, 80 mph; rate
of climb, 1200 ft/min. Craft test flown; target price of $5000 with mass production price of $2500; 2·seater proposed
by raising rotor shaft 3', placing passenger section behind pilot. Neither craft produced.
Rotorcraft Z-8 flown in 1948 was powerless "flying kite" requiring tow for sustained flight. Seated one,
24 ft rotor dia. grossed 500 lbs. Built by Harris Campbell, Jack Marsh, Dick Huber, and J. P. Perry of Pennsylvania
"SKY SCOOTER" early '53 configuration. Power supplied by two special engines mounted halfway on rotor blades
similar to Nagler-Rolz built in Austria during W.W.II.
Single Blade Helicopter under development in Austria '38·'42. Had single rotor blade 35' length counter-balanced
by 40 hp Czech-built Praga engine. Claimed to be first Single Blade helicopter built, tested by full-scale whirl-stand
; prototype underwent tie-down hovering tests. Destroyed during Allied bombing. Was 1-2 place, weighing 400 lb. empty,
770 lb. at gross weight. Fuselage length 12'. German patent issued for design in '41 made provision for utilization
of rocket motor exhaust to actuate single blade rotor.
Ultra-Light under development for utility and personal use. Design calls for installation of Solar "Mars"
gas turbine developing 45 hp at 41,000 rpm. Utilizes pneumatic and jet drive, does not have a conventional transmission
gear or clutch. Empty wt, 430 lbs; gross wt. 910 lbs; top speed, 75 mph: endurance 2 hr; range 150 mi; service ceiling,
13,000'; rotor dia. 20', wingspan, 15'.
concern, Nederlandse Helicopter Industrie, offers production prototype H-3 "Kolibrie." Improved version of
their 1955 H-2 ramjet copter. Empty wt. 450 lbs.; gross wt. 1325 lbs. Tip-mounted ramjets have separate fuel supply,
household kerosene is fuel. Extra fuel tanks between skids easily added as well as optional cargo hook, litters, closed
cabin, other equipment.
version of Gyrodyne Rotoreycle XRON-1 shown in official "blues." See September 1956 issue for original presentation
of "Those Fabulous Mini-Copters" and data on this interesting American copter. New "end plates" on rotor tips used
for directional control are actuated by foot action. Porche powerplant now being tested.
"Rotosail" flying attachment can be added to any standard boat according to Igor Bensen (Bensen Aircraft
Corp., Box 2725, Raleigh, N. C.). Do-it-yourself fans can build their own Rotosails from construction plans available
from BAC. Almost any rowboat, or an outboard, weighing up to 200 lbs. can be made to "fly" under tow with the Rotorsail,
reports Bensen, but the lighter the boat, the better the performance. Bensen also designed Gyro-Glider and Gyro-Copter.
Posted March 24, 2012