Building Your Own Helicopter
The idea of building one’s own helicopter is very attractive to some people. However, although kit built airplanes are quite common, there are far fewer of their rotary equivalents. There are a number of reasons for this, but nevertheless, some kits for helicopters do exist. So is building one’s own a good idea and how should you go about it?
Kit Helicopters – Good or Bad Idea?
Should a pilot build his or her own helicopter, or would he be better off buying something like the well known Robinson R22? Firstly, he should like making things as much as flying, since the project will take many hundreds of hours. And despite what some enthusiastic manufacturers may tell prospective customers, this is not a project for a DIY novice who struggles with flatpack furniture. A helicopter is a complex machine, and all the work has to be done very carefully.
However, for those who enjoy such challenges, building one’s own helicopter is quite possible and can be very enjoyable. Most of the reputable companies offer help and advice, and many kits come with much of the crucial work already done. Many people have taken on this challenge and completed it successfully.
How Many Kit Built Helicopters Exist?
Contrary to what many people think, there have been a large number of kit helicopters over the years. There was the single seater A/W 95, the Skytwister, the Baby Belle, and the Helicycle, to name but a few. However, many of these are no longer made, and even fewer were ever allowed to fly; aviation authorities around the world are quite wary of kit helicopters.
Are Kit Helicopters Safe?
If carefully built, there is no reason why a self-build helicopter should not be safe. However, it depends to a large extent on the skill of the builder, and it is always worth bearing in mind that a helicopter is much more complicated than an airplane. But aviation authorities will not certify a helicopter unless it is airworthy. So if a helicopter is ‘passed’, it should be alright, and buying a second-hand machine should be reasonably safe.
Which Helicopter Kit?
The following is simply an overview, and any prospective customer should do his or her own research in detail. Also, it is essential to check as to whether each helicopter type is certified in one’s own country.
The Rotorway Exec 162F is a wellknown kit helicopter, accepted and flown in most countries. It is good-looking, has excellent performance, and is relatively easy to build and fly. It is also certified in most countries.
The Safari helicopter has a 20 year safety record and is said to be easy to maintain, unlike some other kit helicopters. This helicopter can also be bought as a ready-made machine.
The DFH Dragonfly is a two-seater helicopter, developed in Italy in 1993, and approved there in 1996. It is an attractive two-seater aircraft, and looks set to be very popular.
The Masquito M80 was built by the Masquito Aircraft Company in Belgium in 1997. Production deliveries were due to begin in 2004. The helicopter has a bubble canopy similar to that of the R22.
Building a helicopter is not something to be undertaken lightly and without a great deal of research. But for those who enjoy such projects, it can be a satisfying thing to do, with a safe aircraft at the end of it.