I spent the a few hours wandering the warbirds area this morning looking in vain for a Sea Fury, my favorite of that era, but a couple of Spitfires kept me happy. After a bit of break it was off to the kit manufacturers area in search of a plane for my girlfriend. She quite liked the Panther and Lightning so perhaps I will be roped in for some builder assistance sometime in the future.
For a couple of hours, I visited with Safari Helicopters crew, one of small number of helicopter kit manufacturers.
At Sun 'n Fun I had the opportunity to meet with Bobby and Delane Baker, the owners of Safari Helicopters. The Safari Helicopter line has a long history dating back to 1954--started by Harold "Pop" Emigh and the original Commuter which evolved into the Commuter II. The rights were bought by Murray Sweet and production was taken to Canada under the 'Canadian Home Rotors' brand name. A machinist by trade Murray made many evolutionary improvements to the helicopter and took it to Oshkosh in 1995. Due to the visual similarities with a Bell-47 the type became known as the "Baby Belle" but was later renamed the Safari. Continue reading "Safari 500 at Sun 'n Fun"
It took Bryan Cobb three years to assemble this helicopter while working a full-time job. It is equipped with all factory updates and the PEP tuned exhaust (78 HP). The Mini-500 started life as a new-in-the-crate kit, purchased on eBay in February 2013. Another old barn-find Mini-500 was also purchased on eBay from which to cannibalize all of the mast support and other items. A second-hand Rotax 582 bluehead was purchased off of a flying airplane (Rans S-14). Bryan has been a Mini-500 enthusiast since the early 90's and flew one for 100 hours in the late 90's.
I have 140 fun flying hours to date in my WindFire helicopter.
It's powered by a Subaru EA81 engine short block, rebuilt by Ron @ RAM Performance with an excellent Simple Digital Systems ECU (EM5). 5 gph average fuel burn of non-ethanol premium auto fuel.
MGL Voyager screens and V10 com radio, controlled and tuned by buttons on cyclic control. Microprocessor-controlled fans on radiator, front cabin heater and finned oil pan, keep engine cool even during long ground maneuver practice on warm days. Cabin and cowls are carbon fiber. Tail cone is a one-part uni carbon prepreg, and the fuel tank a one-part carbon-kevlar lay-up.
Time consumed fabricating and assembling parts: thousands of hours! More than I kept track of.