Although American helicopter history is
often dominated by the success of Igor Sikorsky and the
VS-300 in the 1940s the development of the helicopter in
the US also owes a lot to other American pioneers:
Arthur Young (Bell Helicopters), Frank Piasecki (tandem
rotor development), Stanley Hiller (Hiller Helicopters)
and many more.
The Museum has a number of helicopters in the collection
that represent these pioneers as well as a number of
development milestone aircraft from the 1950s to the
Bell 47H, G-AZYB, C/N. 1538.
Built 1956 in Fort Worth, Texas, USA, as a deluxe
version of the three-seat light weight Bell 47 and
powered by a single Franklin 6V4-200-C32 6-cylinder
piston engine. The Bell 47H was a greatly improved and
enhanced version of the early Bell 47G, the main
difference being the metal monocoque tail boom, which
contained a baggage compartment. G-AZYB was the sole
example sold in Europe and one of only 33 built.
Originally sold to Sabena Airways in Belgium it was
operated in Antarctica to support a Belgian scientific
expedition. The helicopter was eventually written-off
after a forced landing in the UK and was purchased by
Elfan Ap Rees in 1985 before being restored to go on
Bell UH-1H Iroquois, 66-16579, C/N. 8771.
Built 1967 in Hurst, Texas, as a 13-seat utility
transport helicopter powered by one Lycoming T53-L-13
turboshaft engine. Total production of the UH-1 family
since 1956 has exceeded 13,000 aircraft. Originally
built in 1967 as a UH-1D it was immediately shipped to
South East Asia in support of the Vietnam War effort. It
was later upgraded to UH-1H standard and stationed in
West Germany; in August 1990 it deployed to Saudi Arabia
for the Gulf War. Donated to the Museum in 1992 and
collected by road transport it arrived in August 1992.
Re-assembly began almost immediately, although some
missing components had to be found through various
sources before the work could be completed.
Brantly B.2B, G-OAPR, C/N. 446.
Built 1965 in Frederick, Oklahoma, USA, as a two-seat
light helicopter powered by one Lycoming VO-360-B1A
4-cylinder piston engine. This airworthy example based
at the Museum is owned and operated by Elfan Ap Rees.
Imported into the United Kingdom from the United States
Robinson R22HP, G-OTED, C/N. H0209.
On Thursday 28th February 2002 the worldís most
successful light helicopter of the 1980s-1990s, the
Robinson R22 joined the Helicopter Museum collection.
Designed and developed by American aerospace engineer
Frank Robinson, the R22 immediately met a demand from
thousands of private pilots around the world for an
inexpensive and reliable two-seater light helicopter
when it was launched on the market in late 1979. More
than 1200 R22s were sold in the first ten years of
production. Thanks to Frank Robinson and his
sponsorship, the Helicopter Museum has been able to add
a fully airworthy condition R22HP to its collection.
Hiller UH-12C, G-ASTP, C/N. 1045.
G-ASTP was originally laid down on the Hiller production
line in Palo Alto, California, USA. in 1958 but was not
completed until 1961. Originally sold into the US civil
market and purchased in 1964 by Bristow Helicopters in
the UK to join other UH-12s being operated by their
flying training schools at Redhill and Middle Wallop. A
three-seat civil helicopter powered by one Franklin
6V4-200-C33 6-cylinder piston engine it was withdrawn
from service in 1976 and sold to a private company. Last
flown in 1981 it was acquired by the Museum in 1989
before being restored in the late 1990s to go on
Hughes OH-6A Cayuse, 67-16506.
Built 1968 in Culver City, California, USA this
four-seat Army scout-utility helicopter is powered by a
317 shp Allison T63-A turboshaft and was delivered for
operatiomns in Vietnam in 1968. It was shot down in 1970
but rebuilt for further service with the Army National
Guard until retirement and subsequent acquisition by the
Museum. The airframe was delivered to Weston-super-Mare
at the end of September 1999.
Piasecki HUP-3 Retriever, RCN
Following the success of the early Piasecki HRP naval
helicopter, which on the 7th March 1945 was the first
practical tandem rotor (fore & aft rotors) to fly, the
Piasecki company began a smaller design and the first
prototype flew in October 1948. The aircraft on display
at the Museum, was one of the three HUP-3s to enter
service with the Royal Canadian Navy for utility and
search and rescue missions and built in 1954 in Morton,
Pennsylvania, USA. With the help of The Helicopter
Association International, the HUP-3 was donated to the
Helicopter Museum, which had it restored in Philadelphia
by volunteers at Boeing Helicopters. It was shipped to
the UK in November 1991 and then transported by road to
Weston-super-Mare by Museum volunteers. The aircraft is
the only example of a Piasecki helicopter in the UK.
Air and Space 18A Autogyro, G-BVWL.
A tandem two-seat gyroplane with a fully enclosed
cockpit; the aircraft is fitted with a fully-articulated
main rotor driving three blades made of spruce and balsa
wood, reinforced with fibreglass. Raymond Umbaugh
founded Umbaugh Aircraft Corporation in Florida, in
1957, to develop a new gyroplane. The first prototype
flew in 1959. The Museumís example was manufactured in
1966 and is one of four which were originally registered
in Sweden and later imported to the UK by a Scottish
autogyro enthusiast. It was transferred to the Museum of
Flight at East Fortune in 2004 and joined the Helicopter
Museum on 21st November 2007.
McCulloch J-2 Gyroplane.
The J-2 was designed by Drago K.Jovanovich and first
flew in June 1962. It went into quantity production in
1971, built by the McCulloch Aircraft Company of
Arizona. The J-2 Gyroplane, has a three-bladed rotor
mounted above an enclosed cabin, stub wings, a fixed
tricycle undercarriage and a horizontal stabiliser
mounted on twin booms. The Museumís example was built in
1971 and sold to the Bahrain Police. It was withdrawn
from service and transferred to the UK in 1981 and was
last flown in March 1992. It was delivered to the Museum
in December 2008.
Bensen B-8M Gyrocopter, G-BIGP, Serial
No. PFA G/01-1005
Built and owned by Richard Cooper of Shrewsbury, UK,
this typical Bensen design was first registered in
October 1980. By 1995 it had accumulated 204 hours of
flying with its C of A permit expiring in 1997. The
machine is fitted with the customary single McCulloch
0-100-1 flat-four two-stroke engine and the jump
take-off (pre-rotator) option. It was delivered to The
Helicopter Museum in May 2008.
Bensen B-8M Gyro-Boat.
Developed by gyrocopter designer and
manufacturer Igor Bensen as a variant of his B-8
Gyro-Glider in 1956, the Gyro-Boat adapted the basic
free-turning, two-bladed rotor system, so that it could
be mounted on a standard dinghy. A prototype was first
flown on 25th April 1956 and was followed by
the production model in July 1956. The Gyro-Boat was
towed with an ordinary water-ski rope behind a speedboat
capable of at least 50km/h(30mph). The Museumís example
was assembled and test flown by the General Developments
Company of Glasgow and purchased new in the 1960s.
Originally in the Brooklands Museum it was transferred
to The Helicopter Museum in October 2003.