As seen through the eyes of a helicopter enthusiast
As mentioned in previous issues of Experimenter, we’re certainly interested in rotary wing articles and will publish them as we receive them. Once again we’re treated to an article by Stuart Fields (Stu), editor and co-publisher of Experimental Helo, a bimonthly magazine dedicated to all experimental and personal helicopters. In this issue, Stu recounts his abbreviated visit to EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2010 with his eye on everything helo.
It was wet this year. How wet was it? We were asked not to show up before Tuesday at our normal camping spot this year to help allow some of the rainwater evaporate. The entire production was affected by the extended rain. We even heard a story of some 50,000 gallons of water being pumped out of the main show area in preparation for the show. That is wet!
The Vintage Aircraft Association capitalized on this rarity by making and selling “I survived Sloshkosh” buttons and T-shirts – of course we picked up a couple of buttons. However, when we did arrive, late Tuesday, the weather had turned pretty fair, and as always the support systems throughout the show pulled their wellies out of the mud, wiped the muck off their smile, and on we all went to have a very good week.
There were a number of interesting helicopters. The aerobatic Red Bull Boelkow was there and performed its antics that really exemplified and screamed, “Don’t try this at home!” Their ship is highly modified, and I expect their pilot is, too.
The Red Bull Boelkow was on hand to wow even the most jaded helicopter person.
Another bird capturing a lot of interest was the electric Sikorsky helicopter based on the Hughes 269 bird. The duration of flight was exceptionally short – 15-minutes – (longer extension chord needed), so GPS navigation wasn’t an option. This is an example of using extreme measures to solve the disappearing 100LL problems. However, system efficiency at max power is 91%! Try that, pistons!
Electric Sikorsky helicopter. Every year, there’s something new to get us all thinking.
Well, you should have seen the crowds around this one! The tip rocket motor drive has again surfaced. The Dragonfly uses hydrogen peroxide pumped to the tip where the platinum catalyst helps convert it to thrust and water spray, driving the rotor. We were supposed to see it fly on Wednesday, but some paperwork with FAA got in the way.
Although this video wasn’t shot at AirVenture, it shows the Dragonfly in flight.
We did talk to one of the pilots who had some 20 hours of flight time in the ship, and he didn’t seem to have any unusual helicopter pilot aberrations. His hearing was normal, and sudden noises didn’t seem to affect him. He did, however, kinda watch closely some bleached-blonde ladies.
RotorWay had an attractive booth in the main show area. Its ship, the Talon, continues to attract a lot of people. The Talon is slick looking, smooth operating, and relatively fast.
Down in the ultralight area a Mosquito sporting a four-stroke engine was found. This ship was under development and wasn’t available for flight at the show.
The two-cylinder, four-stroke Hexadyne P60 engine on this Mosquito is still in development, and as a display, gives designers things to think about.
Along with this four-stroke model, the two-stroke-powered float-equipped version XEL and the Air models were exhibited and flown. Both of these ships qualify as ultralights. Of course, the Mosquito spectrum of available models includes the turbine version which was also displayed and flown.
A Mosquito on floats = an ultralight helicopter
The Mosquito Air, the really simple way to fly a helicopter
Terry Rider’s turbine-powered Mosquito fueling up before a daily flight at the Farm
Steve Michael’s N105KM Safari
This year the Safaris were the big number; they picked up several awards. Steve Michael’s N105KM Safari garnered the Ken Brock Workmanship Award for his fuel injection modification. This bird also was awarded the Silver Lindy. The Gold Lindy was picked up by Jim Bensen with his N397UC Safari.
Jim Bensen with his N397UC Safari won the Gold Lindy.
Other helicopters capturing awards included Mike Mazar’s Bell 47 G-2 N147SM with the Bronze Lindy, and Matthieu De Quillacq with his transatlantic Kompress FPULM. He flew from France, across the Atlantic, to attend Oshkosh and received notice for his fuel tank. Conversations with Matthieu found that he felt his biggest achievement was getting through all the bureaucratic paperwork to get permission for his flight. Matthieu was planning on continuing his flight around the world, crossing into Russia from Alaska. Fuel tank award? This guy has exceptional drive and commitment plus mechanic and pilot skills. He should have received an award for the largest testicular mass.
The EAA Rotorcraft Volunteers for 2010. When your visit goes well and sounds great, these are some people to thank. Front row, left to right, Bill Zierdt, LorenzLand, and the two announcersRob McInnis and Geoff Downey. Back row, left to right, Rick Land, Paul Land, Dennis Philippi, Chris Moran, and Phil Land.
The above photo is of the bunch of guys who toil to ensure the rotorcraft have a good time at AirVenture. Make sure every time you meet one of these guys that you thank him roundly and offer to buy him a cold one. Jeff Downey, the chairman of the group, says there are several other individuals who back up the on-field guys and who equally deserve your appreciation. We’re very fortunate to have such a dedicated and knowledgeable gang of volunteers supporting all the variety of rotorcraft.
While walking back from the big hangars, we watched as the Beechcraft exec jet of NASCAR (National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing) car owner Jack Roush flew this sizable bird very low and slow and at probably a 45-degree bank angle, as though it was part of the ongoing air show. We expected to see the ship roll to the left, apply power, and fly away. But that’s not what happened. We watched in horror as the right wing clipped the ground, slamming the plane down with a loud thud, then performing a 180-degree turn to the right and coming to a sudden stop with the engines still running. The engines finally shut down as we could see someone moving around inside the cockpit, trying to get out of the high window. No fire thankfully, but crowds and fire trucks abounded.
Eventually it was possible to see two occupants exiting the aircraft under their own power. There’s no way to describe the relief all felt at the result of this potentially wide-ranging crash.
For the first time ever, we left OSH early, departing on Thursday morning after hearing there was a possibility of more rain that could have mudded us into our camping spot.