Dave Ames' Helicycle Project Current Date: 1/5/2016
Since I built a Bensen B8M Gyrocopter after graduating from college, I had always wanted to build a helicopter. Since family and career seemed to always come first, my wishes to build a helicopter were delayed some 37 years until I retired in 2011. After spending many months researching which kit helicopter I wanted to buy, I decided to purchase a kit from a company called Eagle R&D ( www.helicycle.com ). The helicopter is called a Helicycle: single seat, turbine powered (160HP de-rated to 90HP), gross weight 850lbs., empty weight 500lbs., rate of climb 900FPM, Service ceiling 11,000FT., normal cruise 95MPH, max cruise 110MPH.
My first shipment was received on September, 2011 and consisted of the two boxes pictured above with numerous pieces of hardware. All hardware in this kit is aircraft quality. The main reason I bought this particular kit was the safety program implemented by Eagle R&D. Before you can receive the final part to the Main Rotor Hub (the elastomeric bearing) and make the aircraft airworthy, you must complete three tasks: one, solo in a commercial Robinson R22 helicopter; two, receive an airworthiness certificate from the FAA; and three send the company a check and they will arrange for a company certified check-out person to fly to your Helicycle location and will spend from 4-5 days checking your ship from front to back, top to bottom and make you correct anything he finds that is not built to company specifications. He will then static balance the main rotor, and start the turbine for the first time and adjust the governor which controls the turbine's speed to load ratio keeping it constant no matter what maneuver you are attempting. Then he takes the ship off the ground for the first time and dynamically balances the main rotor, tail rotor and controls. Only when he is totally satisfied the ship is in perfect condition will he allow you to take the controls for the first time.
Installing the fiberglass windows (2) and the half doors was a very delicate process. The kit is shipped with 3 DVDs explaining each step. The videos spent over ½ hour explaining how to drill the large numbers of holes in the fiberglass without cracking the windows. If you cracked a sheet such as the one shown above the replacement window costs over $500. First start with a high speed drill, then take the proper size bit and dull the bit on the concrete floor. You don’t want to drill through the fiberglass, you want to melt through the fiberglass. Then you take a proper size reamer and ream each hole top and bottom to remove any microfractures. I have drilled over 100 holes and haven’t cracked the fiberglass yet! Next, you have to mount the top fuel tank before you can mount the main transmission. There are 3 fuel tanks in this Helicycle for a total of 17+ gallons. They have an interesting unique method of drilling mounting holes in the tank without creating leaks. After permanently mounting the top fuel tank you mount the main transmission. It must be mounted precisely with it offset a ¼ inch to account for changes due to torque when the rotor is fully up to speed.