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Fri, Nov 27, 2009

Classic Aero-TV: Helicycles Aloft -- BJ Schramm's Legacy (Part Two)

Three Guys, Three Helicycles... Way Too Much Fun (Part Two)

Some years ago, it was my pleasure and privelege to get to know a gentle, sweet man by the name of BJ Schramm. Uncommonly talented in all things rotary-wing related, BJ had a gift for rotors and was a truly great human being, to boot.

 

The designer of the much lauded Rotorway heli series  (pictured below, left, working on a Helicycle) , it was BJ's dream to build the ultimate little single helicopter for the sport enthusiast... but to give it the kind of reliability that had not heretofore been associated with sport helicopter kits.

 The Helicycle folks sum up BJ's fascination with rotorcraft, thusly, "Having flown many types of helicopters both piston and turbine powered, for over 30 years and having constructed, from scratch, over a dozen prototype helicopters from one to four seats; it was B.J. Schramm's desire to create a personal single seat helicopter which embodies all desirable features that could be engineered into a single machine."

This was near the time that the horrific death toll of a shoddily manufactured Mini-500 kit-copter was really escalating, and a known and reliable expert like BJ was just what the sport helicopter business needed to restore some respectability to an industry traumatized by alleged con-man Dennis Fetters (a.k.a. Mohammed Al Faris and God knows what other aliases he used) and the tragedies brought on by his death-trap.

That was then... and when BJ was just about done with all he could do to make the machine the best that he could, even to the point of pioneering a truly lovely turbine installation, something unfortunate happened and BJ "went home" to meet God -- who was truly the cornerstone of everything he did.

Since then, family members and fans of BJ have kept the Helicycle alive and in production, while dozens are now flying safely and racking up hours right and left.

The Helicycle costs less than $40K to purchase, including the Modified Solar T62 turbine 160 derated to 90 hp. The single seat bird allows for pilots of up to 220 lbs max, a Gross Weight of 850 lbs, and an Empty Weight of 500 lbs. Fuel Capacity is 21 gallons (16 + 5 reserve). A Helicycle's range (with reserve) is 160 miles, and boasts a Rate of Climb of 900 fpm, as well as a Hover IGE of 9500 ft. The
Service ceiling is 11,000 ft and the bird cruises (with doors) at approximately 95 mph, though it has a max level speed of 110 mph at Sea level.

ANN caught up with three Helicycle builder/flyers at the recent Lee Bottom Fly-In... three guys of varying experience and backgrounds, who all built the same helicopter and now enjoy the occasional group flight to find a bit of adventure. Let's let them tell you what BJ's genius and passion, via the creation of the Helicycle, means to them...

 

FMI: www.helicycle.com, www.aero-tv.net, www.youtube.com/aerotvnetwork, http://twitter.com/AeroNews

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