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Frequently Asked Questions

List of Questions  (click a question for the answer)

  1. Is the A/W 95 a true helicopter?
  2. Is the A/W 95 easy to fly?
  3. Does the A/W 95 require a license to fly?
  4. How safe is the A/W 95?
  5. What are the specs of the A/W 95?
  6. What are the actual costs involved for building the A/W 95?
  7. How long does it take to build the A/W 95
  8. Are kits and parts available for the A/W 95?
  9. What engines can be used?
  10. Can the A/W 95 be converted to a 2-seater?
  11. Can the A/W 95 be converted for use on water?

Is the A/W 95 a true helicopter?

Yes! Like a true helicopter, the A/W 95 will take off and land vertically, hover, and fly forward, backward and sideward. Also, the basic control system of the A/W 95 is the same as any other helicopter, with full collective and cyclic control and a foot-pedal-operated tail rotor for turns and antitorque control.

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Is the A/W 95 easy to fly?

Learning how to operate the control system of the A/W 95 is a relatively simple matter. The functions are intuitive: lift the collective lever to ascend, lower it to descend; push the joystick forward to fly forward, backward to fly backward, sideward to fly sideward; press the right pedal to turn right, the left to turn left. This is of course a simplification and, as with any vehicle, mastery requires practice. Helicopter flight training can certainly be helpful, although skill with a one-seater must ultimately be gained alone. This is typically done over a lengthy period of practice with the helicopter tethered close to the ground. We also recommend studying various books on the subject, such as those at the Vortech Books website.

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Does the A/W 95 require a license and/or registration to operate?

It does IF its finished empty weight exceeds 254 lbs (the ultralight limit). In that case the aircraft itself is classified under Federal Aviation Regualtion (FAR) 20-27D, which pertains to the registration of Experimental Aircraft. The pilot would obtain a Recreational Pilot Certificate—the basic license for the flight of an Experimental Aircraft. Such a license is relatively easy to acquire and the student can begin flying the A/W 95 with a Student Pilot License. For further details, obtain a copy of FAR Part 61. If the finished weight of the A/W 95 is trimmed to 254 lbs or less, it will qualify as an ultralight aircraft, which requires no license or registration to fly. The aircraft must then be flown during daylight hours in areas away from large concentrations of population or large airports. Further details are provided in FAR 103. You can obtain copies of the various FARs from the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration), which is typically listed in The Blue Pages of the phonebook under U.S. Government, Transportation Department; or simply go to http://www.faa.gov/

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How safe is the A/W 95?

The original Adams-Wilson Choppy was designed, built and flown in the 1950s, and since then, culminating in the A/W 95, the craft has been fine-tuned, improved and enhanced. In the event of engine failure, the A/W 95 is capable of autorotating to a controlled landing. Thus, while the helicopter itself has been designed to be as reliabile and "safe" as possible, the ultimate issue of safety lies in the hands of the builder and pilot. Risks are inherent in any form of flight and the term "safe" should never be used to describe any aircraft.
    FAA statistics indicate that the overwhelming number of accidents occur due to pilot error, which is often a failure of common sense: not taking the time to master the control system before attempting free flights; flying too close to trees, buildings or powerlines; not performing pre-flight checks; not properly maintaining and servicing all components; attempting unsafe flight maneuvers, etc. As long as you take time to learn the control system of the A/W 95, always perform preflight checks of the entire craft and use common sense in choosing where to fly and what flight maneuvers to perform, you will maximize your safety and greatly minimize any dangers.

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What are the specs of the A/W 95?

Detailed specs are provided on the A/W 95's Home Page. To quickly summarize, the craft measures 6' 5" high, 15' long and 5' 9" wide.  The rotor diameter is 19.5' and the chord is 7". The empty weight is about 272 lbs., the max. payload is 225 lbs (with a Rotax 503) and the max. gross weight is 497 lbs. Note that the payload and gross weight can be increased with use of a larger engine (e.g., the Rotax 582). Please refer to the Home Page for additional specs.

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What are the actual costs involved for building the A/W 95?

The final cost to build the A/W 95 depends on your sources of supply, particularly for the engine.  If you find inexpensive sources or even surplus materials, you can build the A/W 95 (less engine and main rotorblades) for as little as five or six thousand dollars. An average cost—also less engine and main blades—might be around $8,000 or so. Obviously the cost will be much higher if you pay to have parts made or purchase pre-fabricated parts and components. However, a well-constructed A/W 95 will typically have a high re-sale value if you ever decide to sell it!

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How long does it actually take to build the A/W 95?

This is an individual matter. Once all the materials are gathered together, two people could fully construct the A/W 95 in as little as a month or two. A single individual might require 3 or 4 months if spending a few hours after work during the week plus several hours a day on weekends. To save time in fabrication, kits and parts may be purchased ready-made (see next question).

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Are kits and parts available for the A/W 95?

At present, some parts are available, but not a complete kit that incudes all parts. Information on kits/components and their cost will be included with your plans package and these are subject to change without notice.

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What engines can be used on the A/W 95?

The original used a Rotax 503 dual carb, twin cylinder engine that produced 52 hp. However, various other engines of between 50 and 75 hp may be used, including those manufactured by Rotax, Kawasaki, Hirth, Fuji, Honda, etc. The original Choppy (on which the A/W 95 is based) used a Triumph motorcycle engine and motorcycle engines in general offer possibilities (although they are often not ideal due to their weight). Marine (outboard) engines offer possibilities as well. More powerful engines allow larger payloads. Those that purchase the A/W 95 video will see yet another remarkable possibility: the use of a small turbine engine. Such engines may be located through sellers of war surplus. The most important criteria in engine choice are: a minimum of 50 hp, a high power-to-weight ratio, vertical operation (at the shaft), ability to perform at high altitudes, known reliability.

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Can the A/W 95 be converted to a 2-seater?

Not the given design. Although theoretically the components and power system of the A/W 95 can be augmented and strengthened to enable the craft to carry a pilot and a passenger, doing so is neither practical nor safe. A two-seat helicopter is more than just a beefed-up single-seater. There are rather complex issues to consider, such as disk and power loading, center of gravity, balance, stresses, and so on, all of which are beyond the scope of the plans. In sum, unless you have expertise in helicopter design, the A/W 95 should only be flown as a single-seater.

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Can the A/W 95 be converted for use on water?

With the use of pontoons, the A/W 95 can be adapted to take-off from and land on water. You can use our Floats Plans (available through Vortech) to build pontoons, which would then be mounted to the skids. However, engine power must be adequate to overcome the surface tension of water during take-off.

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