The Helicopter Kite

Unusual, But It Flies!

The helicopter kite operates on the same principle as a gyrocopter. It's something different! A large rotor is kept spinning by the airflow across it, like a fan being blown in the wind. Once spinning, the rotor develops 'lift' like a wing, and can lift the rest of the kite.

A small tail fin keeps the kite pointing into wind, like the tail does for a Diamond kite. Also, a small horizontal stabilizer at the back helps keep the rotor blade at the correct nose-up angle to the wind.

As far as my own flying products go, I haven't tackled a heli just yet. A bit hard to do in dowel and plastic sheet - or paper ;-)



The Helicopter Kite As A Toy

The most well known, and perhaps one of very few products of this type is manufactured in and distributed world-wide from a single location in the U.S. Besides Helicopter Kite, this toy also pops up under the names...

Helicopter Kite - small kids kiteHard plastic helicopter kite
Helicopter Kite - small kids kiteHard plastic helicopter kite
  • Gyro-Kite
  • SkyChopper
  • WindCopter
  • CopterKite
  • GyroCopter
  • CobraKite

All these products are essentially the same, with the differences being mainly in the packaging. The kite requires some assembly, but it's just a few simple plug-it-in operations as far as I can see.

I've seen videos of this toy in flight and it appears reliable and stable. However, don't expect it to reach the line angles of a good Delta kite! Having said that, I still think it would be something of a head-turner for the kids down in the local park. My little boy would love one, I'm sure...



Helicopter Kites In History

Apart from children's toys, some man-carrying craft of this type can be found in history. I should mention a distinction here. The gyrocopter concept can fly...

  1. as a powered craft with a propulsion unit attached - or
  2. tethered - like a kite

Looking at each of these in turn...




Apparently the powered gyro-copter concept has been around since the 1920s. A motor would spin a pusher-prop, giving forward speed, while the free-spinning rotor above would support the weight of the craft. When improvements in helicopters made them practical, autogyros, as the free-spinning versions were often called, faded in popularity.

Autogyros were, however, used in the 1930s by major newspapers. Also, the US Postal Service used autogyros for a couple of mail service routes. One of these routes ended up on the roof of a large building, which says something about the slow-speed capabilities of these machines.

But here's something very interesting - autogyros have made a come-back of sorts! They are now yet another type of sport aircraft.




In World War II, Germany developed a tiny gyrocopter kite, the Focke-Achgelis Fa 330. This machine was towed by U-boats for aerial surveillance. Later, the Japanese Army developed the Kayaba Ka-1 Autogyro for reconnaissance, artillery-spotting, and anti-submarine warfare.

So it's a saga that began with war machinery and has ended up in the Children's Toys department!



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Plenty of fun kite info, photos and videos - there's definitely too much here for only one visit! Feel free to leave your impressions of this site or just this page, below...