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Helen Krasner's thoughts on flying, helicopters and other stuff

Kit Built Helicopters

Building Your Own Helicopter

model heli 1243rfThe 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.

Comments (3)
Overview of kit helicopters
3Monday, 21 January 2013 20:36
Peter
If you are looking for an overview of kit helicopter, you can have a look at: www.helistart.com/kit-helicopters.aspx
reply
2Friday, 24 August 2012 14:29
Helen Krasner
Hi Weyly,
Sorry but I don't have any comparison data between the Rotorway Exec and the Safari, and I really can't give an opinion as to which is best, as I've only flown the Rotorway. I have heard ot the two other helicopters you mention, but I don't actually know much about them. Sorry not to be able to offer more help. I do hope you find what you are looking for.
Need info
1Friday, 24 August 2012 10:44
Weyly Kwee
Hi,
I am a Helicopter enthusiast, living in Jakarta Indonesia. I took helicopter lesson in Christchurch - New Zealand during 1990-2000. I spent approximately 72 hrs on Robinson R22.
I am searching information and comparison of Kit build Helicopters, and interested on Safari Helicopter and Rotorway. Do you have any comparison data between these two helicopters ? which one do you think is better ? the Safari looks great with its Lycoming engine 320 or 360, and stronger construction. I also notice some other manufacturers such as Dynali from Belgium and Auroa from New Zealand.
Could you give your comment on those last two ?

Your reply is highly appreciated,
Kind Regards:

Weyly Kwee
S@W Adventure

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PROFILE: Helen Krasner

Helen Krasner holds a Commercial Pilot's Licence and Instructor's Rating for helicopters. She worked as a helicopter instructor for several years, instructing for various flying schools on Robinson R22s and R44s. She has also flown a large number of other helicopter types, has a private pilot’s licence for aeroplanes, and has tried flying microlights, gliders, and balloons. 

helen krasner writer and pilot

Helen has been writing professionally for many years and contributes regularly to a number of aviation publications. She was nominated for an Aerospace Journalist of the Year award in 2004, for an article about flying helicopters in Russia. She is also a former Newsletter Editor for the BWPA (British Women Pilots' Association). 

HELEN'S BOOKS

Helen has written a number of books, both traditional print books and ebooks for the Kindle. Most are on flying, though not all. You can find details of all of them in the section on Helen’s Books .   A link to how you can buy each book on Amazon UK is given with each book. If you are in the USA, or prefer to buy from US Amazon, then use the following links…

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The Helicopter Pilot’s Companion: a Manual for Helicopter Enthusiasts
 
Flying Helicopters: a Companion to the PPL(H)
 
Midges, Maps & Muesli: an account of a 5,000 mile walk around the coast of Britain.
 

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Collected Articles from Flight Training News 2006-2011:

Learning to Fly Aeroplanes and Helicopters

Flying Aeroplanes and Helicopters: Beyond the PPL
All About Flying Helicopters
Helicopter Flying Instructor Experiences
Collected Rotary Flight Test Articles 2004 – 2011:
Flying Small Helicopters
Flying Popular Helicopters
Flying Historic Helicopters
Flying Unusual Helicopters
Helicopter Flight Instructor Course Diary

My Foreign Flying Adventures

Your First Cat or Kitten: Choosing and Caring for a Feline Friend

Helicopter Pilot Careers

Flying is Fun

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