The awesome Dragonfly DF1 may not be a flying car, but
it could be the first single person helicopter which is actually worth owning. It’s also the first quiet, ultralight, non-polluting, low-cost helicopter and overcomes many of the hassles associated with personal flying machines in general.
Instead of using a fixed motor attached to the body of the helicopter to drive the blades, rocket helicopters have small rocket motors located at the tips of the blades. The rockets propel the rotors directly, reducing vibration and providing much improved stability. Best of all, because there is no motor torque, a tail rotor is only required to rotate the helicopter, not prevent it from death-spiraling into the ground. The basic idea has has been around since 1950 and the US Navy were even experimenting with them for use as helicopter backpacks.
(Click to enlarge)
Rocket choppers are much simpler to fly than conventional helicopters as there are less flight controls and with almost no moving parts, they’re also safer. They still have the familiar collective/throttle lever but they add a motorbike-like control bar which tilts the rotor head and controls flight direction and rotation. There are no foot controls.
The Dragonfly builds on all this research and wraps it up into a very portable, ultra-light helicopter. It’s powered by a pair of hydrogen peroxide rocket motors made by Tecaeromex, the company that design and built custom Rocket Belts of James Bond fame.
The pilot’s seat is surrounded by a pair of fuel tanks which supply 70% hydrogen peroxide fuel to the rockets. A Tecaeromex penta-metal catalyst in the motors instantly dissociates the peroxide into 600°C high pressure steam, driving the blades around like a catherine-wheel firecracker.
This gives the DF1 some very impressive performance specs. It has a 50 minute flight time at a cruise speed of 65km/h (extendable to 100 mins with an optional extra fuel tank). Top speed is 185km/h and it can climb at 700m/min up to a ceiling of 4000 metres. When it’s empty, the darn thing weighs less than a motorbike (106kg) and it can carry up to 227 kg including pilot and fuel.
The Dragonfly is made by Swisscopters US, a company based in Tucson in the US. As of November last year they had completed test flights of the DF1, obtained airworthy certificates and are looking to head to market in 2010. The DF1 has a few options available including a canopy, medical litter, crop dusting attachments, winch, more powerful engines and avionics. It’s sure to be a hit with sports pilots, farmers and video production companies, it might even be a cool way to get to work.
So that’s the Dragonfly DF1 rocket chopper. Safer, cheaper, non-polluting, easier to fly, easier to maintain, more stable and quieter. Was there anything else you needed? Awesome video showing what it can do here, and an experimental two-seater prototype flight here .
The New Dragonfly DF1 was successful tested on flight last November/09, after two years of technical analyses and modifications the improvements did pay off, indeed with better then ever performance and up dates, the new Dragonfly DF1 manned version is warming up the blades to be on the market on 2010.