Resurrected Helicycle Appears at AirVenture

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The new Helicycle, with a beefier structure

When B. J. Schramm founded RotorWay Helicopters in 1961 in Arizona, he put into motion the world of homebuilt helicopters. Later he started a new venture building a single-place personal helicopter called the Helicycle in Nampa, Idaho.

The Helicyle was sleek, but somewhat underpowered, until someone had the idea to make it turbine powered. The small but powerful and reliable Solar T62 turbine was engineered into the aircraft and it was an instant hit. People could not get enough of the fast and good looking helicopter. It had everything; sex appeal, speed and a reasonable price.

The Solar T62-T32 turbine, also used in military generator sets and as an APU in the Chinook helicopter.

Everything at Helicycle was great, that is until a tragic accident claimed B. J. Schramm’s life. It is reported that Schramm was shooting a promotional video, flying fast and low over a remote canyon river. Since they were not near an airport, they fueled the Helicycle from a 55 gallon drum. Reportedly, fuel contamination led to a flameout, which led to a crash in the river.

Schramm’s family and legions of followers were devastated and although his fans pointed out that the design was not at fault, the Helicycle company floundered. Enter Keith Southard of Las Cruces, New Mexico. Keith and a partner combined forces to buy Helicycle from the family to form a new company, Helicycle Ventures.

Keith Southard with the resurrected Helicycle.

Using parts and tooling from the original company, Helicycle Ventures built a new demonstrator and is gearing up to produce a total of 10 kits in their first run. Two kits are ready to ship now. The kits contain several improvements to beef up the structural design of the fuselage, skids and tail boom. However, they kept the best parts, including the specially engineered gearboxes and, of course, the T62 Solar turbine.

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Belt driven transmission.

Southard reports that the helicopter flies like a dream and the special high inertia rotor blades allow it to autorotate better than a Robinson R-22. The resurrected Helicycle cruises at 90-95 mph and is guaranteed to garner the most attention of anyone coming to the pancake breakfast. The price tag is $67,000 for the standard kit with an engine. As a show special, anyone ordering a kit at AirVenture will receive $750 in added extras. More information can be found at helicycleventures.com.

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