Military Review

Hiller ROE Rotorcycle: a super lightweight single seat helicopter

In 1954, Hiller was awarded a contract with the Pentagon to design and build an ultralight helicopter designed for just one person. The Hiller ROE Rotorcycle, also known as the Hiller XROE-1, made its maiden flight on January 10, 1957. As a result, Hiller released only a small batch of pre-production samples of the XROE-1 Rotorcycle, a number of similar machines were assembled under license at the facilities of the British company Saunders-Roe Ltd, while the car was never transferred to mass production. A total of 12 or slightly more ultralight single-seat helicopters were assembled, 7 of which are today in various aviation museums, and one in a private collection.

Structurally, this helicopter, which is also called the rotorcycle, was a vertical pylon with a chassis in the form of three pillars that formed the pyramid. The pilot's seat was attached to the lower part of the pylon, the tail boom was attached to the upper part. Over the pylon was installed bearing two-bladed screw. The power plant was introduced to the 4-cylinder engine of Nelson, which developed the power of the 43 hp. The maximum speed of the miniature helicopter was 125 km / h, the flight range was 267 kilometers, the practical ceiling was 2800 meters.

This little technical masterpiece remained unclaimed. The aircraft, which could land on absolutely any platform, attracted increased attention from military and civilian customers, but no more. The Americans believed that Hiller XROE-1 had a bright future, including as a personal transport, but after building several copies collected in the US and in the UK, the project did not receive proper development and was closed, forever remaining one of the many experiments in stories world aviation.

The history of the ultralight single helicopter Hiller ROE Rotorcycle

American designer Hiller received an order for the development and serial production of a small single-seater helicopter from representatives of the US Navy naval aviation in 1954. The first flight of this unusual device, which received the designation XROE-1, took place on January 10 1957. By July of the same year, the entire complex of flight tests of the machine was completed, and during their conduct the military noted the considerable potential of this miniature helicopter and thought about sending it into mass production. After completing the trials, Hiller began a demo tour with a prototype of his helicopter, which lasted 4 for a month and passed through US military bases. At the same time, an unusual aircraft was also presented to representatives of European states, members of the NATO bloc. He did this for the sole purpose, trying to find sales markets for his apparatus, to determine the potential demand for it and to work out the possibilities for the mass production of the rotorcycle abroad.

In September 1958, the US Navy agreed with the company Heeler contract for the construction of five aircraft, which were designed for the Marine Corps (ILC). This rapid adaptation of the unusual aircraft to the needs of the ILC further fueled interest in the unusual helicopter abroad. Journalists from European countries wrote about an unusual aircraft, calling it a “pocket helicopter”, and the British company Saunders-Roe LTD even bought a license to issue these rotary cycles. In this case, all the components would still be delivered to the UK from overseas.

In the US, a total of 10 aircraft were released: 5 for the Marine Corps and 5 for demonstration flights that were conducted in different countries of the world. So, one of the rotorcycles was introduced in France. The prototype shown here at first even became interested in the French company Helicop-Air, which initiated negotiations with Hiller’s company to purchase a license for the release of this unit in Europe, but rather quickly these negotiations reached an impasse. The French company limited itself to only demonstrations of this ultra-small single-seat helicopter based on Issy-les-Moulineaux.

The Americans were interested in using an unusual aircraft for military purposes. In particular, they were extremely interested in the options for using a miniature helicopter as a coherent, reconnaissance, tactical machine for small military units. Indeed, the military use of this single-seat helicopter required minimal logistical efforts, since it could be transported in the most ordinary container by road or by light aircraft, and it could be used from any platforms. It was also planned to be used as a means of rescue and a vehicle for evacuating the wounded from the battlefield.

But they were for an unusual aircraft and purely civilian tasks: observation of civilian objects (work in the police, forestry, customs, control of dams and transmission lines). In addition, a single-seat helicopter could be used as a vehicle for representatives of certain peaceful occupations (postman, doctor), especially when working in difficult terrain.

Hiller ROE Rotorcycle: a super lightweight single seat helicopter

At the same time, the civilian use of the apparatus at that time was not so relevant, since the cost of serial copies was overestimated and ranged from 4 to 5 million francs. In addition, in order to pilot this rotorcycle, it was necessary to have a valid diploma of a helicopter pilot. It is worth adding here also the fact that many journalists feared the use of such an aircraft in the city. For example, Maurice Morel, an employee of the French magazine “Equip” (L'Equipe), called the single-seater helicopter a “sky scooter”, noting that if two scooters collide on a city street, it’s not so bad, but 50 meters, it can be fatal, and not only for pilots, but also for people who will be downstairs.

The single-seat helicopter was very compact and could easily be transported by different types of transport, it could also just be parachuted in a special container without any threat to break upon landing. At the same time collecting a miniature aircraft was very easy. The assembly of the helicopter was provided by means of only 13 easily-fitted locks, which formed both the steering beam, and the chassis, and the propeller blade. The car could be brought to a fully operational state in just 10 minutes, while doing everything according to a fairly simple instruction that explained the installation and assembly sequence. The device was disassembled according to the same instruction, but all actions were performed in the reverse order.

The rotor-wheel itself consisted of a semi-monocoque pylon in which an 43 hp engine was installed, a three-post aluminum chassis that absorbed energy during landing, as well as the simplest tail boom. In this case, the pilot was in the open seat of the simplest design, being fastened in it with a conventional belt. On a single-seater helicopter a two-bladed propeller was used, which was located on the main pylon and had a diameter of 5,62 meter. The tail screw had a diameter of 0,91 meter. The prototype number “2”, which was ready at the end of 1960, was additionally equipped with a stabilizer on the tail boom.

Initially, the fuel tank was installed directly above the engine, but later it was transferred to the place of attachment of the tail boom to the main pylon and it acquired the shape of a sphere. The Nelson four-cylinder two-stroke engine used on the helicopter developed the power of the HP 43. at 4000 revolutions per minute. At the same time, its weight did not exceed 20 kg, and the engine was cooled using air flow during the flight. The instrument panel, which was located on the nose landing gear, consisted of a tachometer, altimeter, anemometer and fuel gauge. In addition, a single helicopter could be equipped with a very light transceiver station. At the ends of the tricycle landing gear, floats could be installed for landing on the water or even skis in case of helicopter use in snow-covered mountainous areas.

A compact single-seater helicopter could fly a pilot (weighing approximately 77 kg) and various military cargos with a total weight of up to 116 kg. Characteristics of the machine is very different depending on the load carried by air. The empty helicopter weighed 140 kg, and the maximum take-off weight was equal to 255 kg. With a weight of 220 kg, the aircraft could rise upwards at a vertical speed of approximately 3,45 m / s (at sea level), but at a height of 1500 meters this speed dropped to 3,05 m / s. With a maximum take-off weight, the rotary cycle climb rate decreased, making 4,67 m / s and 2,70 m / s, respectively. The maximum speed of the vehicle was 125 km / h, cruising - 84 km / h. At the same time, fuel consumption was approximately 18 liters per hour, and its supply provided the small helicopter with a maximum range of 267 km.

According to the pilots flying on the rotor, it was more convenient to fly a small vehicle than the most ordinary helicopter, since its inertia was much smaller, and the device behaved much more stable in the air than an ordinary heavy helicopter of those years. First, the pilot sat in his seat, like on the most ordinary bicycle, lifting his leg, after which he sat down more comfortably and set his feet on the control pedal. Starting a single-seater helicopter was very easy due to the electric starter, and it took less than a minute to warm up the engine. After the device landed on the ground, the rotor brake stopped the rotation of the blades of the helicopter for five seconds.

Aircraft performance characteristics:

Overall dimensions: length - 3,81 m, height - 2,29 m, diameter of the main screw - 5,64 m.
Empty weight - 140 kg.
Maximum take-off weight - 255 kg.
The maximum flight speed is 125 km / h.
Cruising flight speed - 84 km / h.
Practical range - 267 km (77 kg pilot and 39 kg of fuel on board).
Practical ceiling - 2800 m.
Crew - 1 man.

Information sources:
Based on materials from open sources
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  1. inkass_98
    inkass_98 22 June 2016 07: 54
    Good thing, just forgot about it quickly. The scope for this scooter can be very wide - from banal tourism to rescue and special operations. Well, the price in the current conditions could be lower. Again, taking into account modern materials and technologies, it is possible to reduce the weight of the structure, increase engine power and flight range. But no one apparently wants to do this.
    1. dauria
      dauria 23 June 2016 10: 23
      But no one apparently wants to do this.

      Are you laughing? lol The market is clogged with this junk from around the world. And new and used, and in finished form and in the form of sets.

      offhand type "buy a mini-helicopter" laughing I am sure that at the price of a used foreign car you will find a real full-fledged one with a decent balance of the resource.
      1. gridasov
        gridasov 23 June 2016 10: 45
        Logic suggests that there is a reason for this, and it lies in the fact that the designer, having made even the latest model, understands that any pilot is a hostage of unpredictable consequences. Therefore, one can simply imagine what anyone who wants to fly thinks - am I ready to put on the "scale" the desire to enjoy the flight and make it my last wish in life. This is an uncontrollable and completely dangerous device. And all only from low power-to-weight ratio.
  2. Kadex
    Kadex 22 June 2016 08: 57
    Today, such an apparatus, taking into account new technologies, would enjoy commercial success. I would have bought one myself. good
    1. Winnie76
      Winnie76 22 June 2016 23: 42
      IMHO the paramotor is more interesting. More compact, safer, more convenient, cheaper. There’s one main rotor that’s worth it ... he started to gape - he opened his skull floor
  3. soaring
    soaring 22 June 2016 09: 27
    And what is a mowing machine and a means of delivering the body from point A to point B ... smile My wife was fed up with my mother-in-law, on the balcony I collected and startanul-like a cat for a walk, for 3 hours ... How to dispose of these hours, choose yourself ... wink laughing And now such a thing would be very relevant - and foresters would look after the land and much more + modern technologies and materials would reduce the price and the price and weight would become less ... In short, I really liked this thing !!!! I want that!!! I am changing my old "Minsk" for this helicopter, if there is info, please let me know !!! good soldier
  4. KLV
    KLV 22 June 2016 09: 40
    This is not a helicopter. It's a butterfly! (From the movie "Mimino").
  5. NikolaiN
    NikolaiN 22 June 2016 10: 02
    I would have bought one myself. And then our off-road already exhausted completely ... The vocabulary is enough for only 1,5 trips to our village, then we have to repeat it.
    1. engineer74
      engineer74 22 June 2016 11: 29
      EMNIP, Kamov Design Bureau had a similar project ...
      Support the domestic manufacturer! smile
      1. corporal
        corporal 22 June 2016 21: 59
        Quote: engineer74
        EMNIP, Kamov Design Bureau had a similar project ...

        Ka-56 "Wasp"
  6. Kenneth
    Kenneth 22 June 2016 10: 03
    Swift helicopter. Under the .... oh emptiness. The wind, the rain is also yours. Do not put useful cargo. A toy without any value.
  7. a housewife
    a housewife 22 June 2016 11: 22
    Okay, when planes are training overhead. And then - God forbid it falls down! There are still "carlsons" got into the habit, they are already quite low with motors cracking. Even if the movement above your head opens !!! Guard. Of course, sometimes it would be convenient to visit the coast in an hour. On the other hand, yes, both rain and wind ... It's a strange thing.
  8. Borus017
    Borus017 22 June 2016 11: 57
    Article plus. Great machine. On current technologies, the candy would have turned out at all!
  9. gridasov
    gridasov 22 June 2016 12: 12
    Another illustrative example of the fact that a machine that is very necessary in everyday life can never be developed before universal use. A normal person would immediately wonder. Why such an individual aircraft is not used and does not find its proposals on the market. No, of course you can mount a flight commercial. However, problems of a real nature remain unresolved. Small relative carrying capacity, lack of power reserve during maneuvering, almost complete failure in terms of ensuring pilot safety. In general, what to speak of large airplanes, what to speak of micro helicopters or gyrocrafts, all problems are at the heart of ensuring the basic energy conditions of flight. In other words, flying like a bird on flywheel devices does not work, but I want to fly like that. However, modern devices using the principles of rotation of the screw also can not provide a more or less efficient and safe flight. The fact is there! And it seems to be a dead end, and even now not everyone understands that fundamentally new basic principles are needed to ensure flight energy. And it turns out there are such opportunities. Just in organizing the algorithm of all the aggregate processes occurring on the blades, as the surfaces of the outflow of air or water, it is necessary to use their potential energy. Thus, the same technologically simple to manufacture and use as propeller and propeller blades create a radically more efficient energy process. This allows to reduce the dimension of helicopter blades and turbine blades. It will increase the speed of rotation, which means productivity by air flow. Such devices are virtually silent in operation. They are easily adaptable with electric drives. They do not have a proportional relationship between fuel consumption and their energy productivity. In general, the new requirements of the modern stage of development require new solutions.
    1. Winnie76
      Winnie76 22 June 2016 23: 49
      Gridasov, with your fundamental knowledge, it’s time to make humanity happy with a teleport. You can, I believe in you ...
      1. gridasov
        gridasov 23 June 2016 10: 39
        Teleportation is possible only through a reciprocal process — disaggregation of a material object to the level of the state of the external environment and the same synthesis, using the same algorithms in the opposite direction. Therefore, mathematically it is quite possible to describe, but unlikely to realize. you pay with one parameter and you can get far from what you wanted. I notice, over time, that nevertheless, the key value for the development of man is mathematics. It is she who is the basis for the formation of a deep worldview. Therefore, it is difficult to believe in it, but it is a function of the constant value of a number that is a discovery that can give an impetus for a new development - just a small discovery of a new property of a number.
  10. Mountain shooter
    Mountain shooter 22 June 2016 12: 46
    Kamovsky K-15 generally had a motorcycle engine! But the advantage of the coaxial scheme made itself felt. And with such an engine like this one, the performance characteristics could have been better, and modern materials would have allowed the partner to be shoved in. A double is much like a wider application. A kind of flying motorcycle.
  11. XODOP
    XODOP 22 June 2016 14: 42
    yes, not seriously. somewhere else in a warm, dry climate, it still couldn’t go, but in most of Russia you can fly in this shake only 3-4 months a year. as a toy for personal use it will still work, but no more
    1. dauria
      dauria 23 June 2016 10: 38
      . as a toy for personal use it will still work, but no more

      I agree to all 100. Whoever has money for an expensive toy will buy a decent fly swatter. Who does not have money, but a huge desire, well, well ... they will collect it themselves by bribing old rubbish.
      They will take the soul and put it in the barn. laughing
  12. rennim
    rennim 22 June 2016 17: 07
    There are a lot of similar devices now ... They promised a serial production in 2018, the truth is promised a prohibitive price.
  13. Ruby
    Ruby 22 June 2016 22: 46
    Quote: XODOP
    yes, not seriously. somewhere else in a warm, dry climate, it still couldn’t go, but in most of Russia you can fly in this shake only 3-4 months a year. as a toy for personal use it will still work, but no more

    People buy all sorts of superbikes and sports cars not to drive them to work or to carry potatoes from their summer cottages. There is a technique for the soul. This is exactly what it is. No one does not go fishing on a jet ski. And drive on water for happiness. So this dragonfly plays in the same niche.
  14. Aviator_
    Aviator_ 23 June 2016 22: 12
    With such PR, which is presented in the article, nevertheless, this device turned out to be unclaimed. Apparently, structural defects, about which there is not a word, decided the fate of this product.
  15. lexx2038
    lexx2038 25 June 2016 22: 25
    Flying toys are forbidden to use, because they don’t know how to resolve air traffic rules, safety precautions and other related things, which appeared with an additional degree of freedom of reach. And then suddenly everyone who wants to buy a chainsaw with propellers and fly a crowd of crane cranes for fishing, drink vodka, and then back home, like gnawed mosquitoes. Some of them will remain hanging on power lines, some will turn into chops, others will begin to urinate on the heads of passers-by ... in short they will not be allowed, although I can’t see any obstacles to make such devices purely from a technical point of view. In the light of current technology, it is both easier and more powerful.