Fully-Functional Ultralight Helicopter! Cool!......Or Totally Insane?

I just ran into this while surfing the web.

My first reaction was, “Wow, I want one!!”

But then I started to wonder how safe it is…

Here is the official website.

Why can’t it be both?

Safe? Sure it is. First you start with some good ground training. Then you download the file from AVSIM, and I’d say after about ten hours on MS Flight Sim, you’re ready to fly. However, when you actually start flying the real McCoy, be sure to switch the “Possible Catastrophic Loss of Life/Aircraft” to the OFF position. You’ll be glad you did.

Disclaimer - although I am an ultralight pilot (and a licensed pilot) I fly strictly fixed-wing, I am not a rotorcraft pilot.

First of all, the land version of the XE is NOT a legal ultralight, it is overweight. They are correct that the float equipped version does meet the weight limit.

I’m not sure what they’re dithering on about the maximum speed for, as it was the stall speed that the helicopters got a pass on, as helicopters can still stay up in the air with an airspeed of “0”.

Legally, all the other models would fall under “sport pilot”. That’s a real pilot license, though not so intense as for a private pilot. You do not have to pass an FAA medical exam, although you would be liable if you knowingly acted as pilot with a hazardous medical condition. However, I expect it would be extremely difficult to find a rotorcraft instructor for sport pilot (I’d be happy to be wrong on that one.)

Is it safe? Well, there is an inherent risk in ALL flying, don’t kid yourself. As a general rule, there are particular emergencies that are more hazardous/difficult to cope with in a rotorcraft than in a fixed wing aircraft. “Ultralight” helicopters do NOT have a good reputation with many in the ultralight community, there have been too many tragedies over the years.

I don’t see anything too obviously bad here, but running on an uncertified two-stroke… well, they ARE more prone to failure than certified engines, or four strokes, and an engine failure in a helicopter is, in some ways, much more serious than one in a fixed wing. I’ve known several chopper pilots who walked away from such, um, forceful landings BUT no one walked away unhurt and the choppers were junk afterward. On the other hand, most fixed wing pilots I know with engine failures not only walked away, you could re-use the airplane afterwards in many cases. (Even so - not everyone landed safely in that group, either).

Beyond that - you MUST have rotorcraft-specific flight training. Must, must, must. This is NOT something to learn out of a book or from a PC-based simulator. I can NOT emphasize that enough. Please. I do not enjoy helping to clean up after wrecks. The best part of training? Good training gives you the tools to make safety determinations on your own.

I’d like to see Johnny L.A. weigh in with his opinion.

Broomstick I kid, I kid. Having flown a few hours in a real glider, the only thing that flight sim taught me was how to do a coordinated turn, and how much you have to alter the elevator depending of the bank angle. That helped a lot. But doing spin stalls, and feeling your stomach drop–flight simming can never recreate that feeling. Nor flying in tandem with red-tail hawk. Or the flight instructor yelling at you. Most important, is the practice required: practice, practice, and more practice. You’re never good enough.

With respect to flying a helicopter, the controls are nothing like a fixed wing. Learning to fly one is like learning to balance ones self on top of a spinning, precessing gyro and praying it doesn’t fly apart. I’ve seen enough beginning chopper pilots wiggling all over the air field—no thanks.

Pussy. Just buy it and fly it, how hard can it be? It’s guys like you that made us have to fake the moon landing you know. :wink:

I don’t know. . . It’s pretty cool but it really needs to fold up and fit in a briefcase like in that James Bond movie.

I saw a video featuring an even smaller machine - consisting of a backpack-like framework with a motor mounted atop a sturdy helmet - a helicopter hat! - it had two sets of counter-rotating blades so it didn’t require a tail rotor. the video only showed it making a very wobbly test flight a foot or two off the ground, then back down again.

Never get me up in one of those things.

C’mon! Where’s your spirit of adventure? My theory is that Icarus died happy, knowing he’d flown higher than mortal before him.

Yes, but something about weasels and jet engines.