Helicycle Flying Adventures
From: Eric Atkins
Sent: Wednesday, July 29, 2009 2:48 PM
Subject: Homers 2009
Well guys I've finally looked at the track logs from my GPS and tallied the results for the trip to and from Homers.
Here's what I came up with:
Day 1 total: 2:57
I86-LHQ :15 (there was no fuel in I86!)
Day 2 total: 5:42
That makes 8:39 for the flight time out there. Fortunately I had a push coming home!
Friday was the best flying day by far, so I managed about 2 hours of flying around with half a dozen or so other helicycles. What a rush to be in loose formation a flock of helicycles! We didn't make it to Sporty's because of the rain, but we did get to Ty's for some good food, the Marathon that has both a deli and cheap K1, and over to the Hillsboro airport for exactly what I'm not sure, but they definately DO NOT have Jet fuel :) That day made it all worthwhile for me. Saturday was pretty much a wash, though I did manage about :45 minutes of up and downs between the raindrops.
On Sunday morning I left the farm a little past 7 and had a perfect flying day to come home. I decided to go to upstate NY and visit my sister before coming home, which I managed in four stops (Homers-I40-FKL-ELZ-CZG-NY0) and almost exactly 6 flight hours. It was so enjoyable to see ground speeds over 100 knots that I wasn't even tired when I got there, and I put another hour and half on that day playing around the catskills and such before covering up for the night. Another 1.5 hour leg got me from her house to mine on Tuesday morning, then after a quick shower and change I finally got N424KA back to the Oxford airport tucked safely into her hangar.
All told it added up to 21.6 hours of truly enjoyable flying. One of the most significant points to make about this trip is that we didn't have even a minor problem with the aircraft in all of that time. Obviously this speaks volumes about the quality and reliability of the Helicycle design. For those of you that are already flying, you know exactly what I'm talking about. For the rest of you GET BUILDING! You simply don't know what you are missing :) Trust me, all the blood sweat and tears pay off in spades when you get to fly this thing.
Oh yeah, I didn't add up all my fuel receipts yet, but my totalizer was over 275 gallons last time I shut down. I'll try to figure out what I spent on fuel next and share that info with all of you.
Thanks to Homer and his whole family for putting on this event every year, and to our outstanding group of builders/owners for the tremendous amount of help during the build. Also thanks to the folks in Idaho for keeping the parts coming and keeping the quality where it needs to be.
Happy Flying everyone!
From: Jim Little
Sent: Sunday, January 25, 2009 11:35 PM
Subject: #2 Big Cross-Country in the Helicycle
Helicycle to Trenton FL.
The second big cross-country trip in the Helicycle was an exciting thought. When my great friend, Mark Hornsby, an ex-Helicycle builder and current Mosquito XET builder, said that I should make the trip and meet him at the Trenton, Florida Helicopter Fly-in, I agreed and took him up on the challenge. It was also great to get the support from Kathy and the home front. My trip to Homer’s a year and a half ago and an additional 110 hours on the ship gave me the confidence.
Pre-trip activities included fuel stop planning and loading up a few items such as a fuel hose adapter in my small under seat storage compartments. The trip would take six flight hours, diversions and delays would have to be added to that. This time of the year, daylight hours are short and a few items to accommodate an on-the-road overnight stay were also loaded. With only limited storage on the Helicycle, I sent my luggage ahead with my friend Mark. On other trips I have sent luggage ahead with UPS.
This trip was to start on the day after Christmas. It seems to never fail that I start trips 30 minutes later than planned and this one was no exception. After a good preflight inspection, telling Kathy and the dogs goodbye, I was on the go, headed 89 miles east to my first stop, Picayune, Mississippi.
The weather was not the greatest, ceilings below 1000’ with mist and visibility was barely 3 miles. The temperature was about 68 degrees and I was sure glad I had my leather jacket on. The Garmin 496 was a great tool to have along, showing the towers that were sticking up into those low clouds!
A Helicycle draws a crowd. Yes I know, that was an understatement. I failed to add time to my flight planning for visiting at the fuel stops. At the first stop, Picayune, at least four different companies have helicopter operations there. I'm guessing at least one pilot and one mechanic from each came out to look. After visiting, taking care of the 13 gallon fuel ticket, and having a sip of coffee, I burnt up 45 minutes when I should have been gone in 15. All is good, those who know me, know I like to visit.
On the go again, Mobile Regional is the next stop, an 85 mile leg. At twenty miles out from KMOB, a radio call and subsequent transponder code made the experimental helicopter a welcome quest. By the time the main rotors came to a stop on the ramp, there were several more line guys on the scene than were really necessary to take care of one little helo. The FBO there is really a good one though the fuel prices were the highest of the trip. I'm glad that I only had a 12 gallon top-off.
Leaving the Mobile airspace, the departure controller let me follow Interstate-10 across the north end of Mobile Bay. Overwater flight in other than a seaplane is high on pucker factor. The straight line distance on next leg to Crestview, Florida is 105 miles. I considered for a moment, following I-10, but it diverted well to the south. I opted for the shorter distance versus being near a main highway. That route took me directly over our Navy's Whiting Field, which was closed for the holidays. A really cool sight at 500' AGL, the place where most of our Naval aviators get their wings.
Weather was not nice on the last 6 miles going into Crestview. Ceilings were 500' and ragged and the mist was thick, making visibility a mile or less. I have been a fixed-wing scud runner for decades and this helicopter thing was taking it to new "heights". The airport came into view and the set-down on the ramp was uneventful, just in time as the fuel gauge was indicating about 1/8th remaining. The top-off took 15 gallons. One note about Crestview; the lineman was the only person to come out and look at the Helicycle and that was his job, he was paid to!
The mist at Crestview was as thick as it could be and not be called rain. Ceilings and visibility remained low. I came really close to shutting down there for the night, to let this weather system pass. Looking at METARs on the Garmin 496 showed much improved weather to the east, so I fired up the Solar turbine and was off. Once airborne, visibility and cloud clearance was not a problem. After about 10 miles it was solid VFR.
The next leg was 80 miles to Marianna, FL. After shutdown on the ramp, a med-evac crew who who wanted to know about my ship greeted me. It was late afternoon and the gentleman who manned the FBO was having a light siesta, I hated to disturb him. We put in 11.3 gallons of jet-A and I was off again.
Tallahassee was the next stop. It is only 58 miles. I did not want to try the only other fuel stop along the route, which was 108 miles against a headwind. After landing at TLH, at least six linemen came out to look. A lot of service for 9 gallons! I have failed to mention so far that at all of the fuel stops, I had to use my fuel nozzle adapter in place of the duckbill and large diameter filler on the FBO hoses. It would have been really difficult without that adapter.
In the air and on the go from Tallassee, I had about 30 minutes of daylight for a 1 hour and 20 minute flight to Trenton. After about 15 minutes I got into a tailwind! The Garmin's guess on enroute time was steadily dropping. By this time it was dark. Visibility was unlimited, the air was smooth and all was well...until the tailwind turned on me. Foiled again! I did not want to try and find an unfamiliar field, at night, and low on fuel. What are those lights off to the right? Cross City, only 9 miles away. That will be the final stop of the day.
The direct-to nearest airport feature of the Garmin headed me toward the un-lit airport. A few clicks of the of the VHF transmit button on unicom frequency turned on the runway lights and rotating beacon. The VASI lights assured me that I was on a safe approach to hover on the runway. Hover taxi between the blue taxiway lights to the ramp and the flight is complete.
I called Mark Hornsby who had taken a commercial flight from Louisiana earlier that day. He had a rental car and would be there in twenty minutes to pick me up. The Helicycle was to spend the night on the ramp. I had packed an el-cheepo plastic drop cloth and some clips to cover the ship if needed. When wrapped, it looked like an insect that a spider had made a cocoon around to snack on later.
Mark had me back to Cross City early the next morning. We topped off the Helicycle with 13.2 gallons. I fired up and was off on the last leg out on the journey. Finding the fly-in was easy. Mostly because of Google map pictures and preliminary information, (along with my superior navigation skills!) and a GPS that will get you to a fraction of a foot to where you want to go.
The Trenton Helicopter Fly-In is a really cool event. Dwight Junkin and crew are to be commended. I made new friends and re-enforced old ones. One interesting story is about a gentleman who came to the event from Louisiana who told me that someone near him has a Helicycle, he saw it fly over his home the day before. I told him that was me on my way to Trenton!
There was plenty of flying, looking, visiting, and good times at the helicopter fly-in. I got to fly the Mosquito AIR and XE. Flying Andy Redmond's Mosquito AIR was a blast! The Mosquito XE, with its cabin and control feel, reminded me so much of the Helicycle. Flying turbines for work and play will spoil you when it comes to engine RPM management. I had never flown a non-governed helicopter before flying the Mosquitoes. The power available with the 2-strokes made it effortless in just a few minutes.
My Helicycle started acting up on the second day. I could not isolate the symptoms much less the cause. Starting problems, RPM excursions, voltage excursions, and a battery that would sometimes loose it's charge, were all on the changing list. Myself and some folks that are a lot smarter than me were baffled. With help from Cam Haberger, we found the problem. A turbine exhaust heat shield had melted some insulation on a battery cable resulting in a intermittent short. A quick repair and problem solved!
Sooner or later it is time to head home. That morning I got up early and bundled up because of the cold front that come through the evening before. Dwight was up milling around and gave me a wave-off as I departed in the still cold air. I had put in a total of 30 gallons of fuel while at the Trenton Fly-In and there was enough fuel onboard to get me the 57 miles to Perry, FL.
Air-taxiing across the ramp at Perry, someone came on unicom to inform me that I had something dangling on a wire beneath my helicopter. It is not good to think of parts hanging off your aircraft. Not real good P.R. either! The right nav light bracket holding clamp had broken. Some safety wire from one of the fine local gentleman pilots had the assembly temporarily repaired. After a top off with 11 gallons of fuel and some coffee and visiting, I was on the go again.
The 52 miles to Tallassee would be a good leg, not too long, to stop and check the temporary repair. It was a good 8 gallon quick turn also. While there, I called Andy Redmond to see about stopping at his home, per his invitation. The automotive street map mode on the Garmin 496 let me enter a direct-to waypoint for the 87 mile leg to his address.
The Redmonds have a beautiful home on a lagoon in Panama City, with a heli-pad! Their hospitality is great. We went to lunch, stopped at the local marine supply for helicopter repair parts, and filled up two fuel containers. The Helicycle took those 11 gallons and Andy went back to the store for a little more fuel while I made the repair to the light bracket. It took 2 more gallons to top off. I had a good visit.
Flying the high traffic corridor along the beach between Panama City and Gulf Port has always been fun and really no trouble. I have been doing it for many years, oh the sights that I have seen! This time it was no exception. The departures from Destin, AC-130 Gunships in the pattern at Hurlburt Field, helicopters patrolling the beach, and a C-130 at the same altitude (500') and opposite direction! All this did not bother me nearly as much as it did the controller who was handling my flight following. He was relieved when I changed my destination from Gulf Shores to Pensacola Regional, getting me off the beach.
It happened again at Pensacola Regional Airport, several helicopter company pilots and employees came out to see the little turbine powered helicopter. One of the pilots was Roger Buis who flies Otto the Helicopter. If you ever get a chance to see Roger and Otto at an airshow, do it, you will be amused and amazed! As we visited, the fuel truck topped me off with 13 gallons and took the payment, all there on the ramp. That was a first. After talking and visiting more, I realized it was getting dark and I needed to get on with it. Otto's pilot suggested that I make it to Mobile Downtown where they would order you up to two pizzas with a fuel order. I could tell Roger had been there a few times!
As I got to the east side of Mobile Bay, it was dark. I had a fleeting thought of refueling and continuing on. Nahh! It had been a long day and I didn't want to push it. Mobile Downtown tower cleared me to the ramp. The FBO there is another great one. They let me wheel the Helicycle into the hangar and then let me take a courtesy car overnight to a hotel. I didn't take them up on pizzas. Not bad for 9 gallons of jet-a.
The next morning was a good one, two more flight legs and I'd be home; Mobile to Picayune and then home. At Picayune, another set of helicopter folks came out to the pumps while I put in 13.4 gallons. We talked awhile and I was able to fire up for the last leg home. One hour later the trip was at its end. Kathy heard me coming in and was outside snapping a few pictures as I landed. My trusted hound Rocky, sat beside her and gave his customary howl to the sky as I let down.
The Helicycle has proven itself twice now on long cross country trips. Granted, the ship was not designed for that purpose, no storage and such. Its speed and novelty makes it a lot of fun. The 30KW modification on my ship really helps on range. I am not using the aux tank because of CG considerations. If I were, I could get another 40 miles per fill-up. The average fuel burn on this trip was 10.9 gallons per hour. That included the 1060 mile round trip distance and fun flying in circles at Trenton. Total time on the helicopter for the trip was 17 hours.
It was a fun trip and I am looking forward to the next Helicycle Flying Adventure. If anyone has any questions, comments, or just wants to visit, send me an email or give me a call.
From: Jim Little
Sent: Friday, February 08, 2008 12:45 PM
Subject: A dream come true and inspiration too!
I have always wanted to fly for a living and as a direct result of building and flying the Helicycle helicopter, my dream has come true. I have accepted a job as a helicopter pilot, flying a modified OH-58/Bell 206, doing aerial application.
When I was considering the Helicycle, logging turbine time was a big factor. Also, knowing that I needed an R22 solo endorsement, I went to a Part 141 school that offered a transition course for a commercial helicopter rating, since I already had an airplane commercial rating. I completed the training and the Helicycle and have been flying every chance that I get.
Now there I was, without a job, with commercial airplane and helicopter ratings, 3000 total flight hours, almost 200 helicopter hours, and over 100 of that is turbine time. With a cold call to a helicopter company in Texas and some charm, I had an interview. A little more charm and bragging about building and flying my turbine powered Helicycle, got me a job offer that I accepted. I'll train with the ground crew for a few months and then start flight training.
My story now needs to go back in time. In 2006, my son Daniel enrolled in a helicopter flight training school in Tomball, Texas. I got a call from him one day to ask me if I knew about the Helicycle. Anthony Spagnoletti had just been there with his Helicycle to visit one of Daniel's flight instructors. Daniel saw Galen Cotton's Helicycle some time later and called me again, all excited! My investigating the Helicycle got me hooked, just like most of you that are reading this.
Daniel completed his training and was hired by his school as a helicopter flight instructor. Three weeks after being hired, his school, Silver State Helicopters, closed down. To say the least, he was crushed. The day after he told me he was un-employed, I called to tell him that I had accepted a helicopter pilot job. I know that was bitter-sweet to him.
Now the rest of the story. Later the same day that I accepted my new job, Daniel called to tell me he had an interview with the company that had just hired me! Two days later, (yesterday) he informed me that we were now working for the same company! That's my son! They hired him too!
I am thankful and blessed to be able to tell this story. Hopefully it will be an inspiration to others to complete their dream. Please let me know if I can help in any way.
From: Jim Little
Sent: Saturday, December 23, 2007
Subject: Christmas Experiments
One way we are fortunate in having our Experimental Helos is that we really can experiment with them.
T’was the day before Christmas Eve and I thought of an experiment to investigate the aerodynamic and visual aspects of Rudolph and his red nose. A red proboscis for the Helicycle about the size of a soccer ball and large reindeer eyes should provide the data. More importantly, Kathy has nieces and nephews that could provide unbiased evaluation and observation.
My son, Daniel, a newly-certificated Helicopter Flight Instructor, and I headed off to the local Wally World for experimental aviation supplies. There we found a foam rubber ball and some bright red acrylic hobby paint. There was one other stop to pick up the red Santa flight suit. This is going to work!
Back home in the Skunkworks, the fabrication started. A small sliver of the foam was cut from the foam ball to make a flat spot to aid in mounting. About an inch in from the flat area, I took a blade and made a cut through the ball to slip in an aluminum mounting bracket and glue it in place. That made a sturdy mount and several coats of the red paint made the nose so bright. Large white paper deer eyes taped inside the half doors finished it off, and it was on!
Late afternoon on Christmas Eve, I donned the Santa suit and loaded up the pockets with small candy canes wrapped in plastic. Helicycle Rudolph One and I took off on a recon flight, checking things out for Santa’s main delivery that would happen later that night. Kathy’s sister and niece were close by, and this would be a good test run.
We all get a lot of looks flying around in our Experimental Helos. Try it in one decorated like Rudolph and dressed as Santa! Let me tell you what a thrill it is to see a young child look up and wave at the helicopter and then stop in their tracks when they realize it is Santa! Even the grownups smiled and waved big when they realized what they were seeing. When Santa waved back and threw out a handful of candy, everyone was thrilled.
On Christmas Day, Santa needed to make another recon run to check on the previous night’s present deliveries. Loaded up with a bag of small presents and more candy, this sortie would include stops. On the way, Santa kept a sharp eye out for children playing outside. A trick ol’ Santa learned was to circle around a house when he saw “Uncle Joe” outside having a smoke. “Uncle Joe” would make a holler into the house, and it would empty out, and the kids and grandparents and all would come out and wave and run to catch the candy canes falling from Rudolph One.
The stops were great. The nieces and nephews had Uncle Jim’s Santa cover blown in a millisecond. I think it was the familiar Helicycle. The bag of presents made sure that I was collecting unbiased scientific data. I do think, though, that the experiment will need to be continued next year. Visions at the Skunkworks are of felt-covered antennae and programmable multi-flash internal strobe lighting for Rudolph’s nose!
Jim "Rudolph" Little
From: Mark Whistler
Sent: Saturday, August 04, 2007 11:48 AM
Subject: And yet another story
Great story Jim. [See below]
I had an opportunity to do that one time for the local police but I was on a
trip and missed out. My ship is on call for the men in blue whenever they
need me too and I look forward to serving some day. On the day they called
me there was a man in a field that was hiding from them and it was so hot
that the dogs would go in and in about 10 minutes they would set down
because of the heat. I would have seen the man easy in the bean field
because he was wearing a orange shirt and he was crawling in the dirt and
that would have been an easy find from the air. It was less than a mile
from my house too. Dang job takes all the fun out of things.
Joe Loxterkamp and I had an adventure of our own yesterday. Here is my
I am on somewhat of a night schedule so sleeping in like I do when the cell
phone rang at 8 am that was kind of a wake up call for me. Well it was Joe
telling me he was heading to the airport and would be in the air at 8:15.
I got up showered and then flew from my house to the airport to fuel up. I
checked the weather for MENTONE Indiana and it was a bit hazy up there so I
took my time. I flew to my first fuel stop and loaded up. The fueler said
he had not seen me in a while and wondered where I had been. I said I have
been everywhere else he would just have to get out more if he wants to see
me.<G> From there I went to my next fuel stop that was to be about 7 miles
from my destination. I fueled up and chatted a while. I found out that if
you tell the fueler all about your ship and then you go into the bathroom
and wash your hands that when you come out they are telling everyone else
about your ship and you do not have to repeat it all over again.<G> So the
deal is Tell a Women, Telephone, Telegraph, or Tell a fueler....<G> Either
way you can communicate with everyone this way. OK so now I am walking to
my ship and I call Joe... No answer so he must be there or is in the air.
He has had time to be there so I figure he is just getting there. I fire up
and head that way and I am only 7 miles of so and at about 5 miles out I am
listening to the local Unicom and I hear Joe call in to Mentone and he is
about 3 miles south. I call in and I am now about 3 miles west. I circle
overhead and dropped down into the pattern and in came Joe right behind me
as if we had planned this and were coming in together. Pot Luck...
We shut down and here came the crowd to look over the ships. We got our
share of the questions and even with the Jet Exec setting on the trailer
next to us we were the show it seemed. I guess we scared the Exec guy off
because shortly after we showed up he packed his toys up and went home.<G>
Joe bought me lunch. What a treat and we sat and watched the people waiting
for Doug to show with his purple ship. Meanwhile we were asked to give an
interview for the PRA bunch about our Helicycle. We said if they could wait
the guru of the Helicycle would be there to interview and he can answer all
of your questions. They said ok come back when he shows. Well like a fine
knock off watch Doug shows up. We chat with him a while and wait till he is
parked and tell him about the interview. He agrees and off we go to spread
the word. They have three chairs set up for us, lights and a camera all
set up and they do everything but put makeup on us. The interview went
great and maybe someday we will all get to see that. We finish up and go
get Doug's ship out and put the blades on and as we do the crowds gather,
It is time to go for Joe and I so we tell Doug goodbye and we head for our
ships. We take off and decide to do a fly bye and give the crowd a show of
sorts. We figured they have seen enough 50 mile per hour fly byes for one
day, it was time for a Helicycle 100 mph fly bye. With the turbine power
sound and all. So we take off and I guess Joe decided he wanted to show a
quick stop so he demonstrated one of those unbeknownst to me since he was
behind me. We circle out and make our run and off we go to our next fuel
stop. We get there and thank goodness it was a self serve because it was
after 5 and they had closed up shop. They left the fuel on for us and so I
fueled up first, Joe must have drained them dry on his way up because the pump was
moving real slow and he could not get a fill up but enough to get to
his next stop. This is where our paths split and we were off. We could
talk in the air for a while and the weather was moving in for my route and
thanks to the Garmin 496 with Nex Rad, I was looking at the weather on my
screen. I saw a ground speed at one time of 115 mph and so this flight went
a lot faster than going up. I missed all the weather and made another fuel
stop and then back to the barn. When I got home it was still daylight and
so I fueled up and went out to a friends house and landed on the dam of the
lake that is by his house and just played around there. My back was killing
me from setting in the ship all day but it is just so worth it.
I get home and see that I have a call from Joe and so I call him and find
out he is home as well and all want good and I told him I would call Doug
and let him know we are safe at home and all tucked in. I call Doug and
give him the good news and he said he would not have lost sleep if I had not
called.<G> I said so how did the fly by look? He said that was great and
since we left he has been bombarded by questions from everyone wanting to
know about the ship and when he is going to fly his ship. He said I will
fly tomorrow and they want to know what time so they do not miss it. I
guess Homer is going to be there then so between the two of them they should
get plenty of questions.
I never got a chance to meet B J but I would imagine he would be smiling from ear to ear right now at all the interest that this little ship has caused. Thank you B J.
From: Jim Little
Sent: Saturday, August 04, 2007 9:22 AM
Subject: Another Episode in Helicycle Flying Adventures!
A deputy sheriff that I recently met socially, came to my home yesterday and ask if I would use the Helicycle in a search for some escaped convicts! The two cons got out of a state prison, which is eight miles from my house, by hiding in the bottom of a trash dumpster that was being hauled to a dump.
It was believed that they were in a two square mile area and the deputy thought a helicopter would help find them. I thought this would be a really cool! I gave the deputy a handheld VHF radio so I could talk to him from the air and I fired up the Helicycle and away I went on the hunt.
Just after take off I did a radio check with the deputy and it was loud and clear. I flew around in a grid pattern in the search area, looking for two guys on foot. This was all new to me. I could see police road blocks, police cruisers on the roads and parked, men in uniform on foot, news crews, and dog teams.
I tried to call the deputy a few times and did not reach him. I saw his car in a field and landed. There was a problem with the handheld that we fixed and I was off again. I flew for over an hour and went back to my home for fuel. At home I called the deputy on the cell phone and he said the sheriff wanted me to carry a police handheld radio so we arranged for a place I could land and pick it up.
On the way to that landing area I saw the state police Jet Ranger that had joined in on the search. I had been keeping an eye out, thinking other aircraft may be in the area. Coincidentally he landed just ahead of me in the field where I was going to meet the sheriff and the deputy. I had met the state police pilot before at the helicopter flight school. He was impressed with the turbine powered Helicycle. He told me they use 123.450 for air to air communication. He stayed on the ground and I fired up and took off again.
As I got back "on station", a little police lingo there, the deputy called on the VHF and told me where the blood hounds had picked up a trail. It was a patch of thick woods about a mile long and a half mile wide. As I circled, I could see the dog teams going in and out of the woods. I knew I could not see the escapees in the woods, but I could see them if they came out and tried to cross one of the fields.
After flying for another hour or so, I went back home for fuel. While on the ground the deputy called on the cell and said the cons had just been captured! They were hiding in a creek bed when the dog teams found them. The Helicycle had kept them pinned in so the dogs could go in and get 'em!
One more episode in Helicycle Flying Adventures.
From: Michael Belcher
Sent: Monday, June 18, 2007 1:15 PM
Subject: Weekend flying
Just a little update on Helicycle N6912B. After "shaking out a few bugs"
(both literally and figuratively). My ship is performing well.
I flew my third cross country (80 mile round-trip) on Saturday. The
weather was warm, but the winds were calm. For this time of the year in
the desert that is unusual. The occasional thermal over the dry lake bed
does get your attention. Going from a 0 climb to a 500-600 fpm climb
without adding any power makes sure you are keeping an eye on what is
The ship still draws a crowd. A man and his 6 year old grandson waited
for me to shut down so they could come over and take a look. I put the
boy in the seat and let him "fly around" a bit. I'll bet he will be in
the Group 7 builders group :-)
A few other groups always seem to find their way over when I am rolling
her out to the ramp. The most common comment is "Wow, it's got a
turbine"?! You just have to love that.
I have a total time of 18 hours on her now. I try to fly at least once a
weekend when the weather allows. I cannot wait to get the 50 hours flown
off so I can take to Homers or Haps next year.
Keep building away! It WILL be worth the effort.
From: Mark Whistler
Sent: Thu 6/1/2006 7:30 PM
Subject: Joe's Checkout / Weather Stop
Well all you builders out there I just got back from spending part of the
day over at I67 Harrison Co Airport or Cincinnati West with Joe, Doug, Homer
and his wife. What a great ship Joe has put together.
Tweedy Bird is his nick name and it sure fits.
Well the day started with some weather on the Illinois and Indiana border
and I thought this is good I will have enough time to get over and spend a
few hours with the boys and then make it back before the bad stuff hits. I
started out and went about 41 miles to an airport to get a load of fuel and
then I could make it to Joe's airport and back to this airport and still
have a little reserve. I get my fuel and head for Joe's airport and there
set that Tweedy Bird in the grass and that is the only time I was sure I was
at the right airport. When I get there Doug fires her up and flies around
for a little doing autos and quick stops and just having some fun. Then in
rolls Homer and his wife trailering his old Rotorway. He is headed for
Colorado and then on to Nampa Idaho. We all head to the restaurant and have
us a bite and then Homer heads out on the road and Joe, Doug and myself head
back to the airport. I call my wife to tell her that I am here safe and see
what the weather is doing there. When I get here she says WHERE ARE YOU. I
said I am Northwest of Cincinnati why. She said well that system is there
now and it is raining so you may have to stay there and ride it out. I said
thanks and went into the fix base operation and they brought up the radar
for me and there it was and it was moving fast. I thought OK I should be
able to make it to the airport I stopped for fuel and get on the ground
there and ride this out then I will only be 41 miles from home. I watch
Joe takeoff and then I shake Doug's hand and say see you at Homer's in July
and I head for my ship and get the heck out of there. OK I can see this
line getting closer to me and I am watching my speed and I am 10 miles from
my destination and directly in front of me is nothing but dark wall and
lightning. I said self this will not do. I change course for another
airport and it is lighter but the wind is starting to pick up and I look
down and see this nice farm and there are people by a tool shed so I just
drop it down and land on a lane by the shed and they come out and pick me up
in a pickup and take me into there shed and we watched the rain come and go.
I had a great time visiting with the farmer and his boys and when the rain
was over I asked if he wouldn't mind selling me some Diesel fuel. He said
no problem and so I bought 10 gallons off of him and that gave me enough to
fly all the way back home. I made sure and paid him at least twice for the
fuel than he wanted and would not have it any other way. I also have him in
my GPS and plan on making it a regular part of my trips in the future. I
had fun and at first I was kind of embarrassed but I am here and not stuck
in a field somewhere wonder why didn't I stop when I had the chance. The
rest of the flight was a bit damp an the backside but it went well. I can
tell you this much. It was a cold front that came through.
Some day Joe we will do a formation flight over to this farmer's place and
put on an airshow for him and his family.
The Bumble Bee is in the hangar and all the water is dried up off the floor
pan and the cushion is airing out and I now have another story to tell my
friends and you builders.
Keep building you guys because Doug said he was getting bored and he needs
you all to swamp him with checkouts so he can have something to do this
Till next time you all keep building and if you are flying keep flying and
trust me when I say Joe has the grin.
Sent: Thursday, October 27, 2005 11:15 AM
Subject: In Search of an Injured Dolphin
I got a call this morning about 7am from a friend that works at a
big marine park here in Panama City Fla called Gulf World. It seems
that a wild female dolphin with a small baby dolphin had been spotted
in the area of our main shipping channel. Now this is not so uncommon
here but the report also stated that the female was injured. A large
fishing hook was lodged in her skin just below the left eye. Gulf
World was organizing a rescue team to try and trap the dolphin and
remove the hook. They needed some eyes in the sky to help locate the
dolphin, my Helicycle and I were needed. Well twist my arm if you
must but who really needs an excuse to go flying and on such a
beautiful morning as this. I had her fueled an setting on the launch-
pad in 23 minutes.(my helipad is here at my house and my garage is
Pop,Pop,Whine,Poof the fire was lit and as the RPMs begin to climb
I thought to myself this is going to be great. 45,500 RPMs and the
Dragon began to roar. A sweep of the gages, flip a switch or two
and with a quick look around the outside of the helicopter I began
to get the blades turning. There's a sweet spot with your cyclic
where all the vibrations just seem to melt away and setting there at
flight idle I'm reminded of what a great helicopter this is.
Headset on and a quick radio transmit in the blind to see if the
fire continues to burn I pull pitch breaking the bonds of gravity
and float on a cushion of air three feet above the earth. Transmit
another time or two, sweep the gages, pedal turn to the right and
falling off my cushion of air I notice my airspeed indicator coming
alive. Gaining altitude a glance below reveals the darting shapes
of fish in the shallow water frighten by the sudden appearance of
the Helicycle as I depart my helipad.(My home is on the waterfront
and departure is out over the bay).
Climbing out over the water I can see in the distance the
shipping channel and the tiny white dots of the boats of the rescue
team. Four to five hundred feet seems to give me the best visibility
and I join in the search. Flying over the water makes some pilots a
little uncomfortable. I wear a inflatable life jacket and with 4+
years of flying for the oil companies offshore in La to the oil
rigs I just sort of got use to it.
From the air dolphins are easy to spot but a dolphin with a hook
in its eye is not. Communications to the boats was also very
difficult so all that I could do was circle the dolphin pods that I
found until a search boat came over and looked them over more
carefully. I stayed air born for 1hr 15min and spotted a lot of
dolphins. Landing back at my pad to refuel and get back in the
search I made a quick call to search team leader on my cell phone
and found out they had located the sick dolphin and were
working with it. The hook was out and the mother and baby dolphin
were going to be ok. Great news and to think my little helicycle and
I had helped out. I have been flying helicopters since 1968. Having
joined the Army, going to flight school, to Viet Nam, Germany
all over the USA and the time with the oil companies, I have flown
many different types of Helicopters. Guys, for the pure simple
pleasure of rotary wing flight, the simple maintenance requirements
that we have and the low cost per hour of flight there is no
helicopter in the world that can touch the Helicycle. (Thank You BJ)
Andy with Snow White
Sent: Monday, May 16, 2005 6:51 PM
Well last weekend I made it past the 15 hour mark. I'm still playing
with quick stops and auto's. Our DAs are creeping up a little about 6500
ft. Trans temperatures are looking good; however, the outside air temp were only
about 65 F. During the flight yesterday, I was flying toward some high
tension power lines. At about 1/4 of a mile away, and about 500 agl, I
heard a hiss over the radio. The squelch was interrupted with static.
About two miles to the south was a cell tower, 4 miles to the west was
radio station and all along the east were these power lines. At 500 agl
it made me think about the shielding...kind of like all the funny noises
you hear when you fly anything over water. Sure glad I shielded
Currently, I am at a pretty remote little airpark. However, the word is
getting out that I have a Helicycle. Quite a few people have been
showing up at the airport. And, the airpark manager has told me about
the people that have been coming out looking for me. It kind of
surprises me because I really have not taken it anywhere. Yesterday a
Huges came over. The Helicycle sure seems to create a lot of interest.
Keep building and be meticulous.
Sent: Monday, May 02, 2005 1:14 PM
Weather has been pretty lousy. Doug, I'm sure glad you came when you
did. Anyway, there was a "small" break in the weather yesterday so I
went out to convert some kerosene into some noise. Initially, I played
around the airport just entering auto's and doing quick stops. This
little airpark is really quiet, there were only a couple of other guys
out there. I know that because as soon as you fire up the turbine anyone
in the vicinity comes a running. It's like watching barracks empty
during roll call. One of the guys was an "R22 enthusiast" complete with
his Robinson polo shirt. He was looking hi and low to find something
wrong with this little ship and all his questions were "well what
happens if the blank fails or the blank fails". It's funny what
questions people can come up with.
Well back to flying.
After I refueled, I went out to check out the deer and coyotes in
the area. The immediate area is like desert valleys with mountains all
around. I headed south along a long straight dirt road that goes down
the valley. I was only up about a few minutes when I heard a call for
any traffic in the area. I have tested the radio and transponder in on
the ground and in a hover but this would be the first time at 500 agl.
So, I keyed the mike..."helicopter 262 Juliet Sierra..." .so far so good.
I continued down the valley and this other aircraft kept calling back
asking for information about this airpark. I answered and continued on
with the rest of the flight and got back just before a little rain moved
in (ha ha Doug). It's really nice to be able to take your own heli up
for a spin (opps bad word) for look see. Keep building guys!
From: Anthony Spagnoletti
Sent: Friday, April 29, 2005
Subject: past the 100 hr. mark
I just wanted to take a moment to let everyone know that last week I
past the 100 hour mark (105 now) and I still can't get over how good
this thing flies.I have had no problems worth mentioning and
everything is working perfectly. The reason I'm posting this note is
to encourage you guy to keep on going! Sometimes it seems like a long
road but the payoff is HUGE! I've been blessed to be able to use my
ship to commute to work every day and I love it! Keep on building
You'll get there. I'll be posting some pics soon.
This thing handles great! its very stable and I'm cofortable in 18
gusting to 25 mph winds which we have had a few times. Its definitle
easier to fly than an r-22.
Sent: Monday, April 25, 2005 2:48 PM
Burned a little more kerosene last weekend. N262JS has 9.7 on it now.
The weather was perfect Friday afternoon and Saturday morning so I could
not resist playing around a little. I got to the airpark about 8 ish.
There were a couple of other guys there interested in seeing the
Helicycle. One had called me during the week and asked if he could come
out an see it. I basically flew around the airpark test flying etc...
i.e. playing with quick stops, normal and steep approaches, and
measuring balancing. Nothing like the smell of kerosene in morning.
From: Brian Stevens
Sent: Monday, April 18, 2005 4:56 PM
Subject: Add Another Helicycle to the Dawn Patrol
Last weekend, Doug and I completed my checkout!!!!! It was great to see
Doug again, and this time the weather was perfect.
Doug and I planned on using 2 days to finish the checkout...Friday and
What an experience! I still have not been able to close my eyes at
night to sleep because I can't stop thinking about what a fun little
ship this is.
On Friday morning when we got to the airport, we quickly put the blades
on and installed the accelerometer and optical pickup for the "vertical
hop" or reflex edge balancing. We had previously balanced the tail and
main blades (between the rain drops) on the ground. Doug explained that
the initial dynamic main rotor balancing was to be done on the ground,
not in a hover. Anyway, Doug was off and running in no time. What an
experience to see that "garage ornament" lift off the ground. The
feelings are bigger than words and say. It was not long before Doug
returned and we adjusted a little. After a couple
iterations, he came flying back and said it...its your turn!
Ahh here it was, the moment we all wait for. What
did the Helicycle feel like you ask? I have only experienced the R22 and
R44; but, this thing felt like "Kindercopter" on steroids. The cyclic
seemed to have higher resolution then what I was use to; hence, required
larger inputs. This must be why people say its easier to fly than the
After my flight, Doug and I took turns flying. We quit about 4:00
because we had to make it to the Kerosene dist before they
closed...there went 40 gal. The next day we both took turns flying my
Kerosene to noise converter. Being familiar with these machines I was
really wanting Doug to "feel" this one as much as possible so that I
could feel good about it's setup. We ended up changing the tail rotor
box oil once to check out its color but after that we just took turns
flying. What a day to remember.
I have to get back to work right now but all I can say is guys its so
cool ...get out a finish those machines. Tom your pre-checkout
tip...get ready to have a Butttttt load of fun...thanks, your right!
Thanks Doug, BJ, Blake, Carolyn, and all. One more dream come true!
All be posting some pics...as soon as I get a little more time and catch
From: Lynn Darling
Sent: Thursday, March 31, 2005
Subject: Today's adventure
Life at 2,500 feet
The weather was beautiful today so I decided to take a short cross country and visit several different local airports. I loaded up with a combination of 75% diesel and 25% regular gas to see how this fuel would affect turbine temps and fuel economy. I left Lancaster , Texas airport at 1 PM C.S.T. and headed South...first stop...Midway airport 25 miles south west. I leveled off at 2,500 ft and still had to dodge Hawks that were circling the fields in search of their mid day snack.
Pushing the cyclic forward produced a 110 MPH cruise and I was at the airport quick ! I landed amidst several nice aircraft including a Beechjet . The pilots were waiting for their corporate owners to show up and wanted to know all about this little , red, fire breather that slipped into their area so smoothly. I was happy to oblige and gave them the delux run thru about the ease and simplicity of the Helicycle.
Left there after the required pit stop and headed 40 miles South East to Ennis, Texas . They have a nice lake there so I just had to do a run over the water and wave at the local fishermen . After checking the area for traffic I decided to do a few practice autos to loosen up a bit......sheer fun and beats the heck out of a roller coaster ride any day. Nothing happening so I headed North back to Lancaster ( LNC) .
Upon arrival at my home airport ( LNC) I was surprised to hear my friend Joe radio up to me and ask for assistance in locating his lost hunting dog !!! Finally ....A mission !!!!! Just what a guy needs once in awhile.... so I banked hard and headed to the trees where Joe had last seen " lassie".....hovered overhead and spotted the animal a couple of hundred yards ahead of his owner.
The dog had fallen in a hole by a creek and was thrashing his rear legs trying his best to get out of his predicament as the hole was filling up with water.
I notified Joe of the dogs location and hovered overhead to mark the spot. He came running and jerked the pooch up to freedom with one quick motion. Joe's reward for saving fido was a wet one as the yellow lab shook all the water off his coat and on to Joe. Now I wonder if this qualifies me to paint a small dog ( 1 inch tall ) on the side of my ship , Much like the WW2 pilots did when they shot down an enemy fighter ?? Doggie search and rescue ??? a first ??? who knows.....but by now the fuel was down to about 3 gallons so I headed back to the parking area where I would re-install my ground handling wheels and push the bird to her home/hanger.
All in all it was a great day....the best day of work still isn't as good as a mediocre day of flying...and this was a fantastic day. The diesel/auto gas mixture didn't affect my temps too much....still around 600/650 heat range but I did notice that the turbine lit off easier than when I burn straight jet-a or diesel. I'll assume that the auto gas was the reason for that benefit. And with jet-a being $3.00 a gallon now, the cost of the mixed fuel was $ 2.18 per gallon. Next I'll try farm diesel but don't expect that it'll have any different results.
I got the mixed fuel idea from John Spurling who use to have a Mini-500 with a turbine and that's what he burned.
Time for you guys to get your ships ready for checkout.....don't miss any more great flying days...
See you at Homer's in 2005.
From: Matt Lazar
Sent: Friday, March 25, 2005
Subject: Great Day to Fly
What do ya do with a day off when the weather is 73 out, the sun
shining and sky blue? Helicycle pilots go fly! I know some of you
enjoy a story now and then from those of us in the air. I pulled the
ship out of the shop this morning with the plan to fly down to Troy,
AL but a check of the weather south of Atlanta showed rain showers in
the area so I decided to fly around in the Northwest. I fired up the
turbine a lifted off from the driveway and climbed to around 800
AGL. Went and looked over the progress of a private strip being
resurfaced north of my place and found they managed to make a few
more feet of runway. I dropped down over the unusable surface and
hovered around for a few minutes. Next, I continued west when I
spotted an area used by the RC airplane guys. I brought the
Helicycle down to the small paved area and had a look around. No one
was in the area so I continued west to my home airport CTJ. I took
my time getting to the airport and simply enjoyed the warm morning
air and clear sky. Landing at the airport was uneventful and the
friendly gal manning the desk called over the radio to check if I
wanted fuel. After getting a full load of Jet-A, I decided to head
north to find a grass strip used by ultralights and gliders about 45
miles away. Leaving the airport, I quickly climbed to 800 AGL and
set the speed to 95 mph indicated. The GPS showed around a 85 mph
ground speed. The turbine EGT 800 as it normally does in cruise and
the transmission was on the low side of the green. I found the grass
strip by following the Etowah river and looking for the easy to spot
county road crossing a bridge over the river. There wasn't much to
look at; I guess the ultralight guys had to work today. I made my
way back to CTJ keeping a airspeed of between 90 and 100 indicated.
Fuel gauge showed I had about 20 minutes remaining as I approached
CTJ. Did a practice auto to the end of the runway to give a Cessna
waiting to go something to see. I practiced doing pedal turns while
keeping the ship moving in a strait line down the taxi way and then a
few nose turns around a ground object before stopping to fuel. Line
guy pulled the truck over and we put 16 gallons back in to fill it
up. Guess I had around 6 gallons left and that seems about right.
Fired the turbine back up and made the 17 minute flight east back to
my house for another spot landing in the driveway. I'm sure glad my
neighbor thinks this is cool! So, there you have it - a nice, simple
morning of just pure enjoyable helicopter flying and 2.4 more hours
on the meter (56 total). Hope to see some more of you in the air soon.
Subject: 2 mile high club....
By: Tom Sled
August on the Central Coast of California has all kinds of weather, I have had 11 days of either fog or winds here on the Central Coast of (yesterday we had Santana's (hot off shore winds) 18 gusting to 26). But today after work was perfect! 78' and wind of 3 off the Ocean. It was such a clear day I decided to do another climb test. I loaded up exactly 13 gallons and took off and established a climb of 500 to 600 ft/min and went into a lazy indicated 70 MPH circle. Well after a little over 22 minutes from starting the Turbine I was at 11,330 feet !!! All the temps were still in the low greens and I could still climb at around 500 ft/min but I did notice I was holding the collective about 2-3 inches higher to hold that. Funny thing, according to my fuel flow meter my burn rate actually went down from 13.3 G/H at sea level for a 500 ft/min to 13.1 G/H at 11,330 for a 500 ft/min. The world looks weird from way up there! I am sooooo used to flying at sea level to 700 ft that I found the view at 11,330 to be a bit scary. It is impossible to judge 70 MPH it just doesn't seem like you are moving at all. Coming down I kept the speed between 70 and 80 indicated, at times I split the needles to test the sprag clutch pegging my IVSI at 1,200 ft/min, then brought them together again. I was doing this over the top of my airport just in case something went wrong. I had a fun one, a "V" tail Bonanza called that he was entering a downwind and asked if any other planes were in the Oceano area. Heh, heh, heh..... I called "Bonanza calling, Helicopter Two To Tango is directly above Oceano Airport, I have you in sight" He called back all frantic "Helicopter Two To Tango we do NOT have you! Please say your altitude, we are at 900!" I replied "Bonanza calling, Helicopter Two To Tango is directly above you at 9,500' the Bonanza came back "FEET?!" and I replied "Bonanza calling, correction, Helicopter Two To Tango is directly above you at 9,800' and yes that is feet" He then asked if I was a Jet Ranger, I replied back I was a home built kit helicopter with a Turbine engine. He asked if I would be landing and I told him in a bit. He stuck around till I landed and we talked for about 30 minutes. When I came down I shot a steep landing then did a go around for a quick traffic pattern at 100 MPH (kind of just showing off) did another steep approach, hovered over to where the Bonanza was (he was near my hangar anyway) and shut her down. I burned exactly 9 gallons and the stop watch said 48 minutes, which averaged to 11.25 G/H.
For me that's as high as I plan on going, so Rod and John the sky is your limit.
Subject: Confined Space
By: Dave Keck 3-2005
The other day I was cruising home at 115mph and made a position call to my home airfield, "One-Delta-Kilo, 2 miles west, inbound for landing runway 17". A few seconds later I made another position call and then I heard back "Helicopter 1-Delta-Kilo, can you hear me?". I came back with "One-Delta-Kilo, Roger, I hear you".
The voice on the radio then said I had just flown over his house, the one with the blue roof and he was wondering if some time I would approach to his front yard and hover so he could take a few pictures. I said "How about right now" and he said "Sure".
I broke off the approach to my runway 17 and headed back about .75 miles to his house. I circled around and did a low recon and realized there were several fences in his yard and power lines down the side yard and across the front on the approach. I circled around one more time checking possible approach angles to his yard with the current wind direction. The only good approach to his yard in those wind conditions was over the power lines into a small clear area between power lines and a fence surrounding his septic field.
I had practiced these steep approaches to a confined area but had never really done one and figured now was the time, as I had just practiced it two days earlier. With a slight pucker factor the approach was fine and a nearly vertical descent to the clearing. Once in a hover I then hovered laterally over closer to where he was with the camera keeping in mind I had a fence in front of me and a bunch of tail grabbing stuff behind me. I waved, he took a picture or two, then I hovered back over to my approach point, pulled collective and climbed out nearly vertical to about 40 feet, then bent it over and headed home.
I paid a visit to him later and found out that he's building an RV-7 in his garage. I'll be darned, another homebuilder just over the hill from me.