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History Takes Flight

With a collection of more than 200 historic aircraft, the EAA Aviation Museum is a year-round destination, combining aviation's past with the promise of its exciting future.

RotorWay/Mortenson Scorpion I

Location: Homebuilts

The Scorpion I was designed in 1968 as a personal sport helicopter kit that would provide the original owner/builder with a simple, low cost, operational helicopter. In trying to cut costs, RotorWay sold kits that were not intended or designed to have the same longevity that is built into a commercial production model.

In the summer of 1983, 12 years after production of the Scorpion I ended, RotorWay Aircraft, Inc. sent out a letter to all owners or prospective owners of Scorpion I and Scorpion II helicopters warning of faulty equipment. Replacement parts for the helicopters had also been discontinued and RotorWay felt that any/all helicopters had outlived their useful life. RotorWay recommended any still existing Scorpion I or II helicopters be considered for static display only. First and second generation RotorWay rotor systems were permanently grounded at this time.

On the other hand, prior to 1983, a RotorWay helicopter kit was considered well worth its price. The Scorpion I kit came in six parts with instructions that were clear and easy to follow. In addition, each kit included a week at the RotorWay Sky Center in Tempe, Arizona. At the Sky Center, kit owners would complete Phase One of flight instruction, receive video tapes on construction and rigging, and complete classroom work. The Sky Center course was a unique program which represented the tremendous commitment by RotorWay to make the concept of a kit helicopter feasible. With such a comprehensive kit and a week of helicopter “camp,” Scorpion I owners were well prepared to build and fly their helicopters.

Sheldon Mortenson made only minor changes to his Scorpion I. The most visible of those changes was the replacement of the original wheels with skids. Sheldon painted the polished aluminum frame of the helicopter with black enamel. On a visit to the EAA AirVenture Museum, Sheldon noticed a lack of helicopters in the collection. Eager to fill the gap, he donated his Scorpion I to the EAA AirVenture Museum in 1981.


17 ft. 1.5 in.


6 ft.

Empty Weight

450 lbs.

Maximum Take Off Weight

700 lbs.

Diameter of Main Rotor

19 ft. 6.5 in.

Diameter of Tail Rotor

3 ft. 3.75 in.

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