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09/24/2006 Archived Entry: "Personal Helicopter"

Silver here. Bad news travels like wildfire, good news travels slow. It's time for some good news.

People have dreamed of personal air transportation long before the Wright brothers. An accomplished engine developer in Japan has mated 4 incredibly small and light engines to an equally amazing transmission to produce an ultralight helicopter.

The Gen-H4 is billed as the world's smallest one-man helicopter. What's more, this isn't vaporware like flying cars, nor does it cost a million dollars. Plump down $30,000, spend 40-60 hours building the contraption, then teach yourself to fly it. Yup, teach yourself. There is that little drawback of 1-man aircraft. I would strongly recommend a lot of practice with your feet on the ground and no wind. Wind is a fact of life for pilots, and the descriptions are somewhat vague on how this craft handles in windy or gusty conditions. Getting flipped over with counter-rotating blades a few feet above you doesn't sound like much fun.

More good news: this is an ultralight aircraft, no license required from the FAA.

With a useful load of just 235 lb (the craft weighs 155 lb empty and carries only 30 lb of fuel) no enclosed cockpit, and no ability to auto-rotate in the event of a transmission failure, this isn't exactly practical for commuting to work. It does look like a heck of a lot of fun to fly (WMV, 2.6 MB).

Despite gravity,
to spite gravity,
we fly.
-George Potter

Posted by Silver @ 10:39 AM CST

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