This attractive little jump-start autogyro was designed by Raymond Umbaugh in 1959 after he had built and sold several examples of single-seat cabin developments of the Bensen Gyro-Copter. The Umbaugh 18 prototype (N43U) was flown during 1959, and in August arrangements were made for final development and mass production to be undertaken by Fairchild, the aircraft to be known as the Flymobil.
In the event, however, Fairchild built only five development aircraft during 1960, all being tandem 2-seaters with 180hp Lycoming O-360-A1D engines. The original single fin and rudder of the first prototype gave way first to a Vee tail assembly and finally to a triple tail unit with a low-set tail plane bearing two fixed fins and a third movable one in the centre. One of the Fairchild machines was used to gain an FAA type approval certificate in September 1961, and certification of the production version, the Model 18-A, was granted early in 1965. This is built by the Air & Space Manufacturing Co. of Indiana, the agreement with Fairchild meanwhile having been dissolved. No recent figures have been disclosed, but one hundred and ten production Model 18-A’s had been completed by the end of 1965. The autogyro has an all-metal fuselage skin, and wooden rotor blades reinforced with glassfibre. The engine drive can be connected to the rotor for jump starts, after which it is disengaged and clutched to the pusher propeller for forward movement.
Obtained through U.S. Army surplus, this type of helicopter was used in the Vietnam War as a gunship. Together with a LOACH helicopter, the Cobra composed what was known as ‘a “Kill Team.”
Obtained through U.S. Army surplus, this helicopter served on board the U.S. Coast Guard icebreaker vessel “Polar Star”
Three different autogyro designs have been certified by the FAA for commercial production: the Umbaugh U-18/Air & Space 18A of 1965, the Avian 2-180 of 1967, and the McCulloch J-2 of 1972. All have, for various reasons, been commercial failures including the J-2 McCullough Gyrocopter. The McCulloch J-2 is not actually a helicopter. Rather, it is an autogyro and differs from a helicopter in that the main rotors are not powered. Instead, the propeller at the back propels the autogyro forward, and the movement into the air causes the rotors to spin and create lift. Ours is powered by a 180 hp Lycoming engine. McCulloch J-2 2/3 place gyroplanes failed to achieve commercial acceptance despite technical sophistication and the enthusiastic belief of their backers that the world needed a gyroplane.
Obtained through U.S. Army surplus, this type of helicopter was used in the Vietnam War. As part of a “Kill Team:’ it flew ahead of a Cobra helicopter in order to draw ground fire.
The most widely used military helicopter, the Bell UH-1 series Iroquois, better known as the “Huey”, began arriving in Vietnam in 1963. Before the end of the conflict, more than 5,000 of these versatile aircraft were introduced into Southeast Asia. “Hueys” were used for MedEvac, command and control, and air assault; to transport personnel and material; and as gun ships. Considered to be the most widely used helicopter in the world, with more than 9,000 produced from the 1950s to the present, the Huey is flown today by about 40 countries.