We started this out by talking last time about Porsche powered light aircraft; the mention of a Porsche powered helicopter brought forth some interest, so here’s the follow-on story. I made the image below perhaps 20-years ago at the Pensacola Naval Aviation Museum. It was identified as a Y RON Rotorcycle, and was obviously powered by a 356 variant engine. Produced by a NY company called Gyrodyne, which had earlier bought out the Bendix helicopter company, the museum placard described the counter-revolving rotors as being 17 feet long, with the machine having an empty weight of 430 pounds and a gross weight of 700 pounds. The Porsche engine was stated to produce 62 hp, with a maximum speed of 71 mph and a range of 31 miles. There were said to have been three service models produced for the Marine Corps to evaluate for “observation, liaison, and small unit tactical maneuvers.”
No production date was given, but the Aviodyne Company, which apparently succeeded Gyrodyne, has a picture on their website of Ferry Porsche standing beside a machine, and states that the Navy bought 75 “specially designed” engines from Porsche in the 1960s. I wonder where they are now. Another website, devoted to Gyrodyne history, notes that a Y RON with a 72 hp Porsche engine and 20 foot rotors took honors at the Paris Air Show in 1961; a few months before, a similar machine, converted to function as a drone, had succeeded in the first remote controlled helicopter flight.
It is not at all clear how many Porsche powered helicopters were built; there were a number of variants, and I found a single reference to a “twin Porsche engine” powered model, although there was no picture, and I never saw it mentioned elsewhere. In addition to the Pensacola museum example (assuming that it is still there), the New England Air Museum and the NY Cradle of Aviation Museum are said to have Porsche powered ‘copters. There may be more at a place like Davis-Monthan AFB, an old military aircraft boneyard, near Tucson. What do any of you know about them?