Rotorcraft Grasshopper I
In 1951 J. S. Shapiro, formed a company, Servotec Ltd, to undertake R&D and contract design work for the aviation and light-engineering industries. Shapiro had previously been with Sir Frank Whittle at Power Jets Ltd, where he came into contact with James Weir's enthusiasm for personal helicopters. Aided by a loan from the Kemsley Flying Trust, Servotec began serious studies of small, foolproof helicopters and designed an experi-mental model of the twin-engined coaxial Grasshopper. These researches came to the notice of F. G. Mitchell, head of the Mitchell Engineering Group, who became fired with Weir's and Shapiro's enthusiasm.
Mitchell Engineering and Shapiro founded a new company in 1960, Rotorcraft Ltd, specifically to undertake the development of a helicopter which would embody the principles which had crystallised over the years. The construction was con-tracted to Servotec and two years later the company com-pleted its first coaxial-rotor helicopter, the Grasshopper 1.
The "Grasshopper" in its definitive form had an enclosed fuselage sports car with a small v-tail and a skid undercarriage. It was powered by a pair of 65hp Walter Mikron piston engines mounted for-ward of the two-seat cabin. These drove a pair of two-blade coaxial rotors mounted on a pylon which emerged just ahead of the cockpit windshield.
G-ARVN, the prototype, flew on 11 March 1962, but was withdrawn from use the following spring when funding was withdrawn following the death of the owner of Mitchell Engineering, and the project was abandoned. It was considered to be underpowered.