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De Bothezat Helicopter


In January 1921, the US Army Air Corps awarded a $20,000 contract to Dr. George de Bothezat and Ivan Jerome to develop a vertical flight machine at Dayton. The 1678kg "X"-shaped structure supported an 8.1m diameter six-blade rotor at each end of the 9m arms. At the ends of the lateral arms, two small propellers with variable pitch were used for thrusting and yaw control. A small lifting rotor was also mounted above the 180hp Le Rhone radial engine (which it also cooled) at the junction of the frames, but was later removed as unnecessary. Each rotor had individual collective pitch control to produce differential thrust through vehicle inclination for translation. The aircraft weighed 1610 kg at take-off and made its first flight in October 1922. The engine was soon upgraded to a 220hp Bentley BR-2 rotary. About 100 flights were made by the end of 1923 at what would eventually be known as Wright Field near Dayton, Ohio.

On 18th December 1922 during a test by the Technical Section at McCook Field (now known as Wright Field), the aircraft rose 1.8 metres from the ground and remained airborne for 1 minute 42 seconds. On 19th January 1923 it lifted two persons to a height of 1.2 metres, and on 17th April 1923 it lifted not only the pilot but also four people hanging on to the framework.

Although the contract called for a 100m hover, the highest it ever reached was about 5m. After expending $200,000, de Bothezat demonstrated that his vehicle could be quite stable and that the practical helicopter was theoretically possible. It was, however, underpowered, unresponsive, mechanically complex and susceptible to reliability problems. Pilot workload was too high during hover to attempt lateral motion.  Development ended in 1923.

Bothezat helicopter
Engine: 1 x Le Rhone radial 135kW, 180hp / Bentley BR-2 rotary, 220hp
Rotor diameter: 8.08m
Length and width: 19.8m
Height: 3.05m
Take-off weight: 1700kg





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