Mixing Airplanes and Helicopters: Safe VFR Airport Operations in Class G

Wilson Gilliam, Jr.

A small, white helicopter floats across the sky, practicing different types of approaches to the Class G airport in Virginia. The student pilot pulls the red trigger switch on the cyclic, still timid with inexperience.

November 2045 Romeo turning right base, 28, Hampton Roads Airport.

The pilot of an incoming twin engine airplane, hearing the first radio call and unfamiliar with the area, maneuvers into a right-hand traffic pattern for the same runway a few moments later. The pilot is late to a meeting and still has to grab a rental car.

November 8077 Papa entering a right downwind, Runway 28, Hampton Roads.

UNICOM quickly pipes up over the CTAF (Common Traffic Advisory Frequency).

November 8077 Papa, this is Hampton Roads UNICOM. We have a right-hand traffic pattern for helicopters only. Fixed-wing aircraft are to use a standard traffic pattern.

These types of radio exchanges are sometimes followed by a few choice words that are broadcast to the public thanks to tense hands and inadvertently open mics. Airplanes and helicopters are both ingenious marvels of the modern world, but inherently possess different flying characteristics. These variations must be planned for, especially at airports without an operating control tower, in order to maximize safety and efficiency.

A small single engine airplane by a hangar - Mixing Airplanes and Helicopters: Safe Airport Operations

I have flown both airplanes and helicopters commercially for twenty-five years. I’ve seen my fair share of helicopter versus airplane arguments, near collisions and foot races across the ramp to prove the point in person (you should plan on being out of the aircraft by the time the other pilot gets there). Can’t we all just get along? Yes, we can.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has provided pilots with general rules pertaining to operations within Class G (uncontrolled) airspace. The FAA has a strong commitment to safety and is a regulatory agency. So, let’s use their position on the matter as a starting point for this discussion about airplanes and helicopters sharing the skies at uncontrolled airports.

The FAA’s 14 CFR (Code of Federal Regulations) Part 91 (General Operating and Flight Rules) states:

  • 91.126 Operating on or in the vicinity of an airport in Class G airspace.
    • (a) General. Unless otherwise authorized or required, each person operating an aircraft on or in the vicinity of an airport in a Class G airspace area must comply with the requirements of this section.
    • (b) Direction of turns. When approaching to land at an airport without an operating control tower in Class G airspace—
  • (1) Each pilot of an airplane must make all turns of that airplane to the left unless the airport displays approved light signals or visual markings indicating that turns should be made to the right, in which case the pilot must make all turns to the right; and
  • (2) Each pilot of a helicopter or a powered parachute must avoid the flow of fixed-wing aircraft.

Note that 14 CFR 91.126 (2) does not specifically indicate “how” the helicopter should avoid the flow of fixed-wing traffic. This provides helicopter pilots with some flexibility while remaining compliant.

Tips for Airplanes and Helicopters Sharing the Skies

Here are a few tips for helicopter pilots at Class G airports, with 91.126(2) in mind. Remember that communication and avoidance are key elements in successful coexistence with fixed-wing aircraft.

  • Familiarize yourself with the Airport Facility Directory (AFD) prior to making your trip.

Note any instructions regarding helicopter operations, non-standard fixed-wing traffic instructions, taxiway diagrams, FBO location(s) and any nearby obstacles.

  • Listen to AWOS, ASOS or other advisory service.

Note the wind direction and any special instructions regarding landing information for helicopters. If the wind is different than forecast, don’t be afraid to change FBOs (or other landing areas) if the decision safely creates less interference with other airport users.

  • Request an airport advisory approximately ten miles away.

Hampton Roads traffic, November 2045 Romeo, small white helicopter, 700’ 10 miles north, airport advisory, please.

Adjust altitude to preclude interference with airplane traffic pattern altitudes. Note any possible traffic conflicts and turn your landing light on. Be sure to use the terms “copter” or “helicopter” during all radio transmissions to avoid confusion over aircraft type. If you have questions about acceptable landing areas, ask UNICOM (if available).

  • Your approach path must avoid landing airplanes.

Hampton Roads traffic, copter 45 Romeo, one mile north, will make approach to taxiway Charlie, remaining north of runway 28.

A helicopter in flight - Mixing Airplanes and Helicopters: Safe Airport Operations

The slower approach speeds of helicopters make them especially vulnerable to being overrun. Utilize an approach path well clear of airplane traffic and plan on landing in an area that minimizes rotor wash to parked or taxiing fixed-wing. Be very specific during traffic updates regarding your approach path relative to the active runway. Acknowledge nearby traffic to help alleviate collision concerns. Don’t forget to look out for other helicopters, too.

I have found it usually best to plan the helicopter approach directly to my final destination at the airport. This permits efficiency for paying customers, while minimizing the impact of my operations across the airfield.

Remember that helicopter pilots are taxpayers, too. As long as helicopters are not impeding the flow of airplane traffic established in the pattern for the “purposes of landing,” helicopters have a right to use the normally smooth, wide runway surface. Sometimes, this is preferred when practicing run on landings or full touchdown autorotations from altitude. Fixed-wing airplanes waiting on the taxiway for take-off do not have the right of way over a helicopter on final approach or on the runway. FAR 91.113(g) clearly indicates that:

  • g) Landing. Aircraft, while on final approach to land or while landing, have the right-of-way over other aircraft in flight or operating on the surface…

Airplane pilots waiting for departure should comply with 91.113(g) and not incorrectly invoke 91.126(2) to try and force helicopters off of the active runway. Helicopter pilots should clear the active runway as soon as safely possible.

  • If it’s necessary to cross a runway after completing the approach, utilize sound runway incursion avoidance techniques.

Remain clear of any hold short lines for the runway while making a radio call prior to crossing. Avoid radio transmissions while crossing since this does not allow for possible warnings via radio prior to runway encroachment. Position your helicopter so that rotor wash does not create turbulence on the runway (note wind and traffic conditions). If there is a passenger or second pilot, confirm tail rotor clearance during pedal turns and that the runway is clear prior to crossing.

  • Use care during hover taxiing.

Hovering helicopters can make ground bound airplanes dance in the wind, pelting them with loose debris. Believe me; this does not foster warm and fuzzy feelings between swing-wing and fixed-wing.

Be careful not to taxi behind large airplanes performing engine run ups (or any condition requiring thrust). These situations can create possible loss of tail rotor effectiveness (LTE) or hitting cyclic control stops.

  • Use caution if operating near self-serve fuel pumps.

Helicopters landing and taking off near fuel facilities have substantial potential for creating conflict. Be aware of your rotor wash. If in doubt, land nearby, throttle down and wait for a safe opportunity to use that credit card. Pilots of smaller helicopters may be able to land a short distance away and push the aircraft to the pump with ground handling wheels. That’s a better option than making airplane drivers so upset that you can’t even sit at the restaurant lunch table. If it does happen by accident, buy your fellow pilot lunch. A nice lunch. Steak if they have it. Remember, as in life – your reputation follows you around.

  • If operating at the airport on a routine basis, sit down with the facility manager and develop a plan.

Helicopter on a runway, with an airplane - Mixing Airplanes and Helicopters: Safe Airport Operations

Meeting with the airport manager about routine helicopter operations is some of the best advice I can offer. Creating well-developed helicopter operating procedures for the airport will enhance overall safety and enjoyment. Discuss traffic patterns, reasonable landing sites based on wind and traffic conditions and recommend that other helicopter operators abide by the same guidelines. Encourage airport management to distribute helicopter recommendations via updates to the AWOS/ASOS recording, AFD commentary and written dissemination among airport based rotorcraft operators. Helicopter flight schools should consider including the resulting operational plan as part of their standard operating procedures (SOPs) provided to employees, students and renters.

Remember, it’s a big sky with room for both airplanes and helicopters, but a small airport. Safety and communication are the keys to the facilities.

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Sources:

14 CFR FAR Part 91

When Was the First Helicopter Invented?

Anders Clark

Flying has long been a dream of humankind. And surprisingly, for as long as we’ve dreamed of wings, and airplane style flight, we’ve also dreamed of rotor-based, or vertical flight. Centuries of study were poured into the subject of flight, but it wasn’t until a little over a century ago that the first helicopter lifted off from the Earth, and spun its way into history. Since that time, helicopter design has become incredibly refined, and helicopters now serve a variety of important purposes. But where did it all start? When was the first helicopter invented, and where, and by who? Well, turns out that’s kind of a tricky question.

A Brief History of Vertical Flight
The first helicopter toy, a simple bamboo one developed by the Chinese.

Image by: Haragayato

The very earliest references we can find for vertical flight come from China, around 400 BC. Around that time, there are records of Chinese children playing with a bamboo helicopter-like toy. It worked by rolling a stick attached to a rotor and then releasing it. The spinning would generate lift, and when released, the toy sprung into the air. This toy, eventually introduced into Europe, became profoundly influential and early Western scientists based much of their research and attempts to design flying machines on this simple toy.

A drawing of Leonardo da Vinci's first helicopter design, or aerial screw.

Then, in the early 1480s, Leonardo da Vinci created the design for what was described as an “aerial screw.” This is considered the next big step forward for vertical flight. Then in 1754, Russian Mikhail Lomonosov developed a model based off the Chinese toy but powered by a wound-up spring. For the next hundred years, other scientists and researchers began developing new and different models, including Frenchman Christian de Launoy and British inventor Sir George Cayley. In particular, Cayley’s experiments and models were very influential on future pioneers.

Then, in 1861, French inventor Gustave de Ponton d’Amecourt demonstrated a small steam-powered model. It failed to lift off, but was important for two reasons: Gustave coined the term “helicopter” in describing his model, and it marked the first use of aluminum, a then rather new and exciting metal. Then, in 1878, an exciting first. Italian Enrico Forlanni built an unmanned, steam powered model that was able to take off vertically, rise to a height of nearly 40 feet (12 meters) and hover for almost 20 seconds. Model, unmanned and brief, but it was the first helicopter to achieve flight.

Around the world, the different countries forged ahead, trying a variety of methods to power their craft. In 1887, Frenchman Gustave Trouve built and flew a tethered electrical model. In 1885, Thomas Edison began working on a helicopter powered by an internal combustion engine, which ultimately resulted in an explosion and failure. Slovak inventor Jan Bahyl was able to make an internal combustion engine work in his model, and in 1901, it was able to hover at a height of almost 2 feet. Four years later, a more refined version of his helicopter model reached 13 feet (4 meters) and was able to cover 4,900 feet (1,500 meters) of distance.

The First Manned Helicopter Flights

Then, French brothers Jacques and Louis Breguet entered the scene. They had developed Gyroplane No. 1, which may be the first known quadcopter. The exact date is unclear, but sometime between August 14th and September 29th of 1907, Gyroplane No. 1 lifted its pilot about 2 feet (.6 meters) into the air, hovering for roughly a minute. It was, however, an extremely unsteady aircraft, and required a man to hold it steady at each corner of the airframe. For this reason, the flights of Gyroplane No. 1 are considered to be the first manned helicopter flight, but not the first free or untethered flight.

Cornu's first helicopter design to achieve manned flight

That would happen very soon after that same year, on the 13th of November. French inventor Paul Cornu had built a helicopter that used two 20 foot (6 meters) counter rotating rotors driven by 24 hp engine. The Cornu helicopter lifted the inventor 1 foot (.3 meters) off the ground for almost 20 seconds. Though this was not as high or long as Gyroplane No. 1, it did not require assistance to remain steady, and so is considered the first truly free, manned helicopter flight.

Helicopter Designs Abound

The Wrights had achieved manned flight with the first fixed wing aircraft in December 1903, and in 1907, the Breguet brothers and Cornu had achieved the same with helicopter flight. The doors to the world of aviation were thrown wide open, and inventors, scientists, and enthusiasts poured in.

By the 1920s, Argentine Raul Pateras-Pescara de Castelluccio had successfully demonstrated cyclic pitch, or the ability to tilt the rotor hub forward a few degrees and allow the helicopter to move forward without the need for a separate propeller for pushing or pulling. He also was the first to successfully demonstrate the principle of autorotation, which was key to the safe landing of damaged helicopters.

Rare footage of a test flight of Pescara’s helicopter in 1922

In 1924, Frenchman Etienne Oehmichen set the first helicopter world record for distance recognized by the Federation Aeoronautique Internationale (FAI). He flew 1,181 feet (360 meters). This record was beaten a mere four days later by Pescara, who flew 2,415 feet (736 meters) in 4 minutes and 11 seconds, at a height of roughly 6 feet (1.8 meters).

In the US, Denmark, Hungary, Italy, and Russia, countless models were tested, flown, abandoned or improved on at an incredible rate. Then, in 1936, another first.

The Birth of the Helicopter Industry

In 1933, German Heinrich Focke was brought into the world of helicopter research. Inspired by autogyro designs, he set to work. He designed the world’s first practical, stable transverse twin rotor helicopter, and on June 26, 1936, it flew for the first time. The Focke-Wulf Fw 61 then broke all the previously established helicopter world records in 1937 and pushed the flight envelope for helicopters to new heights.

The world was paying attention. In the United States, Russian-born Igor Sikorsky competed fiercely with W. Lawrence LePage to produce the first helicopter for use in the US military. LePage was successful in acquiring the patent rights to design a helicopter in the same style of the Fw 61, so Sikorsky went with a more simple, single rotor design. LePage was also awarded a contract from the military after winning a military sponsored contest in early 1940, which also included designs by Sikorsky, and others.

The contract specified that delivery of a flying prototype must be accomplished by January 1941, and by July of 1940, the airframe for LePage’s model, the XR-1, was complete. However, they were unable to meet the prototype deadline, and due to this delay, Sikorsky was also able to receive funding for his model.

The XR-1 helicopter designed by LePage, during a flight test.

Finally, three months late, the XR-1 arrived. It resembled the Fw 61, with its two, three-bladed rotors, and was powered by a 450 hp Pratt and Whitney engine. It first flew on May 12th, 1941, though it was flown tethered in its early flights, and wasn’t flown flee until late June. Even then, it was flown within a few feet of the ground. This was because the XR-1 showed a variety of design and stability problems. Over the next four years, additional money and time were spent refining the design, and though it improved, it was never quite good enough. Finally, in April of 1945, the military canceled all their contracted with LePage and his company, after a US Air Force report concluded that the company was “inept” and employed a “hit and miss method” with their research and development.

The World’s First Helicopter to be Mass Produced
Igor Sikorsky test flying the VS-300 with floats

Sikorsky test flying the VS-300.

Meanwhile, Sikorsky and his team had been hard at work, and the result was the VS-300. It had a single, three bladed rotor powered by a 75 hp engine, and a single vertical tail rotor for anti-torque. It could also have floats attached to it for water use. The first tethered flight was conducted by Sikorsky on the 14th of September, 1939, followed on May 13th, 1940 by the first free flight. This made the VS-300 the first single lifting rotor helicopter in the US, the first successful helicopter to use single tail rotor configuration and the first practical amphibious helicopter. It was a monumental achievement.

Igor Sikorsky in the XR-4, the first helicopter to be mass produced on a large scale

Sikorsky in the XR-4.

The military contracted with Sikorsky, and using the VS-300 as a basis for the design, Sikorsky produced a new, refined model, the VS-316. Designated the XR-4 by the military, it made its first flight on January 13th, 1942, and was accepted into use by the military in May. The XR-4 broke all previous helicopter endurance, altitude and airspeed records, completing a 761 mile (1,225 km) cross-country flight; setting a service ceiling of 12,000 feet (3,700 meters), and with an airspeed of nearly 90 mph (140km/h).

The military ordered 100 XR-4s, making it the world’s first helicopter that was mass produced on a large scale. All told, 131 XR-4s were produced before newer models replaced it.

One Final First Helicopter

While Sikorsky and LePage were working with the military on helicopters, Bell Aircraft was working on a civilian solution. They hired Arthur Young and were interested in building a helicopter based on a design by Young’s that promised simplicity and ease of use. The result was the Model 30 prototype, which was eventually refined into the Bell 47. On March 8th, 1946, it became the first helicopter certified for civilian use. For the next 30 years, it was considered the most popular helicopter model and more than 5,600 of these helicopters were produced.

Conclusion

So, which helicopter was first? Well, as you can see, depending on what you’re asking, there are a lot of firsts. The first helicopter model to fly, the first unmanned helicopter flight, the first manned helicopter flight, and so on. And these firsts, though they may be credited to a single person or machine, represent centuries of research, testing, and determination from scientists, inventors, and enthusiasts across the globe.

Since the arrival of these first helicopters, the designs have continued to be refined and adapted for use in a variety of industries and for a variety of purposes. Learning to fly these incredible machines requires training, skill and dedication, but it opens up a wide world of opportunity for those who dream about flying helicopters for a living. It is an exciting time to join the world of aviation, and as many pilots and aviators have expressed before, the best work view is the one from the cockpit.

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How to Become a Helicopter Pilot

Learning to Fly Isn’t as Hard as You Think

Wondering how to become a helicopter pilot? The first steps to getting into a cockpit are clearly defined, and most people qualify to start training immediately. Here are the details you need to know.

You’re watching the quintessential over-the-top car chase scene and the star is making a getaway so fast the police can’t catch him. No back street short cut combination will put the cops at a great enough advantage to cut the hero off. Then the helicopters enter the high-speed chase. There’s no more hiding for the poor car. Air power is simply better. You think to yourself, “That would be a cool job. How do I get a job like that?” The answer: start flying helicopters. Get some experience. Then apply for the job.

Anyone can buy a discovery flight in a helicopter. A discovery flight is essentially an introduction lesson for you. Much like an introduction to martial arts class or an introduction to painting, you can buy an introduction lesson to flying. The lesson normally lasts about two hours. In that time you would get a basic introduction to the parts of a helicopter and how they work. You also get to fly with an instructor for about half an hour. The discovery flight is normally a short flight just around the airport. If you are savvy enough to point the way and you don’t live very far away from the airport, you could even ask the instructor to fly over your house.

You’ll need to find a school that teaches flying in order to buy a discovery flight in a helicopter. These schools aren’t usually the local high school or recreation center. A school that teaches flying can be found at your local airport. You are likely familiar with the international airport near you; these are the airports where airlines operate. In some cases international airports are too busy for learning to fly, but many flight schools do operate from these airports. Flight training also happens at local airports, which are likely closer to you. An online search for airports near your city will reveal the small local airports in your area. You can also use this (av-info.faa.gov/PilotSchool.asp) search engine on the Federal Aviation Administration website to find the address of flight schools in your state.

Once you find the flight school nearest you, simply walk in for a visit. Be sure to visit the flight school before buying the discovery flight. You’ll want to see the aircraft and meet at least one instructor. Though appointments aren’t typically required, you may want to call and make an appointment with the school. This will ensure you don’t have to wait around to talk to someone once you get there. In addition, it helps the school be prepared for your visit.

If you like what you see, ask to schedule a discovery flight. The cost should be anywhere from one hundred to two hundred dollars if the school has smaller aircraft. You’ll be charged for the aircraft hourly operating expenses as well as the flight instructor hourly fee. The aircraft cost can be negotiable if you are willing to reduce the time you spend in the air. Consider paying for half an hour instead of an hour in the air if you are strapped for cash. The instructor hourly rate is likely not negotiable. You’ll be charged for the amount of time you spend with the instructor whether on the ground or in the air. Be prepared to pay the bill for the discovery flight prior to takeoff or immediately upon returning to the airport from your flight.

If the flight is enjoyable, you may want to consider scheduling your first lesson immediately. You’ll be required to verify your citizenship prior to starting training with two forms of identification. Generally, you’ll need your instructor to teach you for twenty or so hours before you are ready to go it alone. Before your instructor gives you permission to fly alone in the helicopter, he’ll check your abilities to ensure you can fly a helicopter alone safely.

All pilots must also complete a medical evaluation. Before you can fly by yourself you’ll need to visit an aeromedical doctor to get a certificate stating you are healthy enough to fly. The doctor will check your vision to be sure you can differentiate between a red and green light and have 20/40 vision or better, with glasses if you need them. The doctor will speak to you from across the room at a conversational volume to find out if you can hear well enough to fly. You’ll also need to provide a urine sample for basic testing. Neurologic, mental, diabetic, and cardiovascular conditions may require a more extensive review by your doctor.

As you can see, the first steps for getting into the cockpit are pretty simple. Most people qualify to start training immediately. Find a school near you and schedule a visit and a discovery flight. If you like it, sign up for training. And don’t worry too much: a pilot medical evaluation for a pilot in training is far from intimidating.

So, now that you know the first steps on how to become a helicopter pilot, what are you waiting for? Get started today!

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The Cicare CH-12 Helicopter

The CICARE CH-12, is the latest offering from the Cicaré company. It is a two-seat light helicopter for civilian use that is sold as a kit. This product summarizes the experience of Augusto Cicaré and the creativity of an avant-garde design team.

The result is an aesthetically stunning helicopter for both exterior and interior lines, an unprecedented design in this type of aircraft. One of the most important design premises were the interior comfort, so that we can say that our cabine is one of the most comfortable of the segment.

The CICARE CH-12 is made entirely of aerospace materials and the blades are made of composite materials with useful life on condition. The CH-12 is presented as a new option and it sums up many technical solutions provided for the creativity and experience of Augusto Cicaré. The power plant used is Lycoming O-360, which gives us the greatest safety as regards one of the most important components in a helicopter.

About Cicaré Helicopters

  • Cicare has 14 different models of helicopters, and the Helicopter Flight Trainer Cicaré SVH-4, which positions them as worldwide Research and Development leaders in the Aerospace sector.
  • Throughout their developments they have researched and tested different technologies. As for rotors: (two-bladed, three-bladed and four blades, rigid, semi-rigid and articulated, conventional and contrarrotantes). As for different engines (piston and turbine), and different sizes (from 115 kgs cars a two-seater of 1400 kgs), so that the solutions that we are using in their products today are the result of experience.
  • Cicaré technical manager, Mr. Augusto Cicaré has an important track record. Among his main achievements there are: in 1958 flew his first helicopter, the CH-1, becoming the first to do so in Latin America; he was the world pioneered of ultralight helicopter.
  • Cicaré built the CICARE CH-4 in 1980, one of the world’s first ultra-light, then the CH-6 CH-7 model, recognized for its innovative command system.
  • In 1996 he invented the Simulator / Trainer Helicopter Flight Cicaré SVH-3, which was awarded with gold medal for best invention of the world in the aerospace category in the Geneva Motor Show in 1999.
  • Cicare S.A. have a professional team that have been working with Augusto Cicare for years, and a variety of developments that allow us to offer models and configurations that will cover the needs and tastes of different markets. They are currently producing the Simulator / Trainer Helicopter Flight CICARE SVH-3, the one seat helicopter CH-7B and the first pre-serie of the two-seater helicopter CICARE CH-12.
  • Cicaré is also in the final stage of development of the tandem two-seater helicopter powered turbine CICARE CH-14.
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Enstrom TH180: Will it Compete with the Robinson R22?

Enstrom Helicopter Corporation has a new training aircraft called the TH180 but the company had been keeping the details of this new helicopter confidential until Heli Expo last March 2015. Could this helicopter, the Enstrom TH180, answer the call for a low-cost training alternative to the Robinson 22, which is by far the most widely used helicopter in flight training?

It is uncertain whether the new TH180 will impact the well-defined niche and sales of the Robinson R22, but we know for sure that Enstrom is passionate about safety and their helicopters offer superior performance for flight training, aviation law enforcement training and commercial operations.

Enstrom TH180 Helicopter is a low-cost, 2-seat, piston-powered aircraft is slated for certification before the end of 2015. The TH180 aircraft is a cut-back version of the Enstrom’s popular FX-280 three-seat model.

Enstrom officials said the TH180 should have direct operating costs of approximately $175 per hour and an hourly fuel burn of less than 12 gallons per hour. The price of the TH180 at launch is expected to be around $365K.

This aircraft is powered by the 210-hp Lycoming HIO-390 engine and it features an electric clutch switch and a engine harness. All Enstrom Helicopters are made in the United States with domestic parts and labor.

Will Enstrom’s plan to release a flight training aircraft competitor to the Robinson R22 create downward pressure on the price of flight training? This prospect is one that many in the industry are watching closely, since the it may influence flight training costs and availability in a significant way. We will most definitely be watching these developments with great interest, and keeping you posted on this topic.

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Mosquito Helicopter: How Low Can a Helicopter’s Cost Go?

For over twenty years, the Canadian geniuses John Uptigrove and Dwight Junkin researched and then developed the Mosquito Helicopter. The helicopter’s innovative and simple design allows the aircraft to fly wherever it is needed for a fraction of the cost normally spent for corporate helicopters. The Mosquito is an affordable helicopter for pilot’s who have their FAA licenses but do not want to keep dishing out money to rent to fly.

What do you think about the Mosquito Helicopter?

For approximately $20K the entire Mosquito Helicopter Kit can be purchased, prices may vary according to which dealer you contact. You can actually start building the Mosquito for a lot less because the kit is sold in small affordable chunks and the first kit, the frame, sells for only $3K.

The Mosquito line of helicopters is one of the world’s most lightweight, manned helicopters.  Each aircraft has been developed to deliver excellent performance, reliability and most importantly ease of flight. Kit Planes Magazine says “The Mosquito is convincing, it is as close as you can come to real flying almost no means of support.  And the view is at least as good as a bird.” Ken Armstrong, with Kit Planes, went on to say “Flying the new Mosquito Ultralight was the most fun I’ve ever had with a Helicopter!“.

The frame of the Mosquito is aluminium and uses a simple triangulated structure with tubing all the through to maximize strength. The tail boom and support struts are made of Carbon Fibre to improve the power to weight ratio. The engine in the Mosquito is a two cycle and two cylinder with the highest power to weigh ratio on the helicopter market today.

The Mosquito Helicopter is made in Australia and currently the XE, XE285, AIR and XET models are available at their headquarters in Koo Wee Rup, which is 65 kilometers from Melbourne (CBD Central Business District).  The team at Mosquito is available for sales, spare parts and support for all Mosquito aircraft. In addition, you can receive assistance in assembling your aircraft, just contact a Mosquito representative for more information.

Pro’s and Con’s of Ultralight Helicopters

Ultralight helicopters are actual helicopters, despite what critics say. However they much more simply designed, and are a great deal lighter (in comparison to an R22 for example). Ultralights can have one or two seats, gas engine or turbine. And, the rotors diameters are much smaller.

Since the ultralight helicopters began to come out pilots have been intrigued. In the pilot world the opinions of light aircraft vary greatly. Some really like them, others claim they are dangerous and difficult to fly. One thing both sides agree upon, is that they are cheap.

The positives are that a pilot holding a private pilots license can own a ultralight helicopter $20,000!  Critics of the ultralights bring up the point that it’s possible to buy a used Robinson R22 for $45,000, and is much safer and performs much better.

To get the price down ultralight manufacturers sell the aircraft as kits. Meaning, the owner must build the helicopter. Buying a kit to build the helicopter yourself is will save you tens of thousands of dollars. The build out takes 200 to 300 hours.

When purchasing the ultralight kit, typical materials will include fiberglass, machined parts, instruments, rotor blades and engine are provided. A complete assembly manual also comes with the kits, along with customer service.

Video: Mosquito XE Ultralight Helicopter (Autorotation)

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Edgley Optica: Will No One Save This One-Eyed Aircraft?

Designed and first flown in 1979 by British designer Edgley, the Edgley Optica is a beautiful but nearly extinct aircraft.  The Optica was produced in limited quantities in the 1980’s and targeted the gap in the aviation market for low cost, fixed-wing observation aircraft.  The idea was to replace helicopters in activities such as: aerial photography, pipeline patrol, search and rescue missions and policing areas where there is no need for hover and land capabilities.

As you can see the look of the Edgley Optica takes some getting used to, it has the appearance of an huge eyeball fixed to the end of a airplane.  There appears to be a giant fan behind the cockpit, which joins the helicopter-type cockpit to the rest of the aircraft and acts as a fuselage and main spar. This ducted fan design allows the engine thrust to be closer to the aerodynamic thrust line which gives better stability during power changes. In addition, it protects the propeller from ground strikes, it provides better performance at low speeds and it is quieter than conventional propeller planes.

Will the Aviation Market Allow this Aircraft to Get off the Ground

Despite its lofty ambitions and futuristic look and characteristics, the Edgley Optica aircraft has been sidelined and searching for backing for decades by John Edgley, its creator. The main reason the initial production and release failed is due to the fatal crash of the very first aircraft released to the Hamstead Police Department. Immediately, financial backing was withdrawn and due to more troubling events (e.g. a fire attributed to arson destroyed 8 completed aircraft) temporarily sidelined.

Although the design is unorthodox, the flight qualities are ordinary and the aircraft’s instrumentation is all standard. The flight controls are the normal stick and rudder. Handling is no different than any other aircraft.  The difficult adjustment to make is getting used to the panoramic view. Another aspect of the Optica is its slow cruise speed can fool some pilots inot thinking that they are flying too slowly.

Now once again in 2015 the Optica is in play at the Paris Air Show and its creator John Edgley is trying to position his aircraft back into production. He needs to find a large sponsor or a buyer with veryt deep pockets. Could this aircraft eventually replace the helicopter? Without a miracle or financial backing for the Optica, we may never know.

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Volocopter: The Worlds First Green Helicopter

The VC 200 is the world’s first green helicopter. E-volo introduces the VC200 Velocopter– the first Volocopter able to carry two passengers while powered by batteries.

Exactly What is a Volocopter?

The Volocopter is a different type of aircraft, an no category to fill.  Although the Velocopter is very similar to several different types of aircraft, it really does not fit any particular category. Basically, a Volocopter is a vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) manned aircraft that is currently without a specific classification. What’s more, theVolocopter is an electric battery powered Manned Aerial Vehicle (MAV). This is in contrast, but similar to, the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV).

The VC 200 Velocopter looks like a helicopter, and acts somewhat like a helicopter. But the Velocopter differes because of all its propellers (18 propellers) and operation mechanisms. Helicopters have rotors, and the Volocopter has propellers. Helcopters have cyclics, foot pedals, and the collective. A Velocopter has a joystick. The e-volo company believes that propellers are an advantage over rotors because the mechanism that drives the propellers are a lot less complex.

Plus the VC 200 is designed to be safer than a helicopter. With the VC 200 there is a great deal of redundancy built in, which supposedly makes this aircraft safer than a helicopter. For example, if one or more of the propellers fail, the VC 200 is designed to land safely through two separate safety means.

The people behind the VC 200 e-volo project are Alexander Zosel (CEO and overall strategic coordinator), Stephan Wolf (CFO and Lead Software Developer), and Kathrin Mohr (Management Assistant). The aircraft is under development in Germany.

What Makes The VC 200 So Different?

The VC 200’s flight controls work through the “fly-by-wire” principles by the use of a joystick. The VC 200’s control system makes it vastly different from any other aircraft. Basically, flying the VC 200 is as as simple as it gets.

The VC 200 takes off and lands vertically. The pilot does not have to invest a great deal of energy or effort into the flight path angle, minimum speed, stall, mixture control, pitch adjustment and many other things which make helicopters difficult to fly.

The propellers generate the ascending force, and by means of a selective change in propeller speed it takes care of the steering. Different from helicopters, the VC 200’s mechanical pitch control of the propellers are not an issue at all.

Moreover, the position control and the directional control of the VC 200 takes place by means of several independent and mutually monitoring airborne computers which control the rotation speed of each separately.

Other Important Highlights of the Volocopter
  • Two passenger private aircraft.
  • Added pusher propeller enables an even faster flight.
  • Electric power plant – environmental friendly (green technology).
  • Up to an hour of flight powered by batteries (no fuel costs).
  • Hybrid combustion engine that powers batteries under develop (to extend flight range).
  • Improved safety – redundancy of all flight components and back up batteries>
  • Parachute attached in case of emergencies.
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The EC145 Helicopter

The EC145 is a twin-engine light utility helicopter made by Airbus Helicopters. It was first flown in June of 1999, and has been in production since 2002. This helicopter can carry up to nine passengers and 2 crew members. This helicopter is used for such tasks as corporate transport, passenger transport, emergency medical services, search and rescue, para-public and utility roles and much more. This helicopter also has a larger cabin space than the older BK 117. Internal space was increased by 46cm (18in) in lenth and 13 cm (5 in) in width increasing the cabin volume by 1 meter to 6 meters.

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Cabri G2 Helicopter: Does it Compete with the Robinson R22?

The new Cabri G2 is a three blade rotor system that has an innovative design that some industry specialists say has the potential to compete with the Robinson R22 in the flight training aircraft market.

The Cabri helicopter was made possible due to the genius of Bruno Guimbal, who was one of the key design engineers at Eurocopter. Bruno wanted to develop an aircraft that had a small piston engine but had the safety levels of a turbine aircraft. His work helped small aircraft designers take advantage of the superior flight features of the larger turbine helicopters.

We stacked the two helicopter’s specifications (Cabri G2 & Robinson R22) side by side in the table below to help evaluate some of the important factors in these two aircraft. It appears that in a few critical areas the Cabri keeps pace with the R22 but the Robinson R22 is the most affordable helicopter, has the highest density altitude performance and has a well known reputation for reliability. Until the Cabri G2 has flown throughout the world from flight training exercises to pipeline patrol and until the Cabri G2 can document sustained performance, low cost and reliability, the flight training helicopter of choice will remain the Robinson R22.

SpecificationCabri G2Robinson R22
EngineLycoming O360Lycoming O360
Horsepower145 hp131 hp
Max Cruise Speed100 kts96 kts
Empty Weight946 lbs855 lbs
Max Gross Weight1540 lbs1370 lbs
Fuel Capacity45 gallons30 gallons
Hover Ceiling IGE5000 ft (@ 1540 lbs)9400 ft (@ 1370 lbs)
Hover Ceiling 7500 ft (@ 170 lbs + 2 hrs fuel)8000 ft (@ 1300 lbs)
Range250 nautical miles (15 min reserve)380 nautical miles (no reserve)
Price (New)$355,000 US$240,000 US
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