SkyTwister Plans Built Helicopter
It has been too long since I sent an article about the finished Skytwister helicopter. The last article was October of 1998 and a lot of changes and development has happened since then. I needed many hours to finish the bird as I had envisioned her, the final tweaking and debugging proving to be much more difficult than the building.
I started this project thinking I could learn to fly her as I went along. Wrong, wrong, wrong! About halfway into it I finally got wise and started taking lessons in a Robinson R22 B. I finished my private helicopter pilot rating and am currently in process of obtaining my commercial and CFI ratings.
“Was I ever glad I took those lessons!” The Twister is a fine craft but it’s many times more sensitive to control input changes than even the Robinson or Mini 500. Problems I encountered while testing were overheating, blade tracking, and lack of tail rotor authority.
Most were overcome by calling Ben Showers for tech advice, and some overcome just by trial and error, heavy on the error!!! The biggest of which was spatial orientation. I wasn’t paying attention and landed on a grass covered steel post with the tail rotor at full speed. Oooops!!!
One blade separated from the hub and flew 150 ft behind me; the other blade bent 70 degrees and proceeded to rip off my horizontal and vertical stabilizers while I tried to ride the machine like a bucking bronco!!
Whew! After inspecting the machine for damage, the local designee pronounced me a “lucky fella” and the tail design an exceptionally sturdy one. (Thanks Ben!) We figured that I needed a bit more blade length as my rig is heavier than the original and has more torque. I now am in possession of a new set of tail blades, which I will be more careful with in the future.
So while I was waiting for new parts I thought I’d change the little helicopters paint scheme. I went with a bright translucent Candy Apple Brandy-wine and am in process of doing some air brush art of a dragon on the nose — should be different anyway.
Testing is still ongoing but very exciting. The machine seems to do all it’s supposed to but I feel that one needs about 40 hours to get comfortable and learn it’s little quirks. I also added an electric starter after the Rotax 582 almost pulled my arm out of joint a few times. I like the ease of turning the key and hearing the motor fire off.
Carburetion was a bug that needed to be worked on, also. The jetting was either too small or too large so the solution was to fill the jets with solder or re-drill them. This widened my range of jetting while making my wallet a bit narrower! Helicopters have different power requirements than fixed wing and the fuel system has to be set up correspondingly.
Anyway you look at it, this project has been fun, educational, interesting, challenging, and I will not hesitate to tackle the next helicopter project with the same amount of enthusiasm and dedication.
By the way, if you even think of starting a project helicopter, be ready to devote 2/3 MORE hours to it’s successful completion than you are told about! AND GET TRAINING We don’t need any more fatalities in the sport aviation family.