Museum Acquires A Flying Banana

Museum Acquires A Flying Banana

1-Feb-2016 Source: The Helicopter Museum

A rare “Flying Banana” twin rotor helicopter arrived at the Helicopter Museum this week for restoration and future display as part of its collection.A forerunner of the modern Chinook, the aircraft now at the museum is officially a Piasecki H-21 Workhorse, serial number FR41 and was originally built in Pennsylvania for the French Army Air Force and delivered directly to Algiers in 1956 to support French forces engaged in the long running Algerian Civil War.After retirement it was used as a target on a firing range in France before being transferred to an engineering training college in Grenoble where it was declared redundant last year.

“The H-21 was born from the world’s first tandem rotor helicopter, flown experimentally by Frank Piasecki in America in 1945,” said Museum Chairman Elfan Ap Rees.”It got its nickname because of its unusual kinked fuselage shape, designed to make sure the rotors at opposite ends of the aircraft didn’t clash, and was powered by a war surplus Wright Cyclone engine, taken from Flying Fortress bombers.

For its era ,it was very successful, used by several Air Forces around the world and seeing service in the early phases of the Vietnam War. However it’s combat debut was with the French army transporting troops, artillery and equipment into the Atlas Mountains to fight rebel forces. Some were also armed with rockets, machine guns and missiles, the first helicopters in the world to be used for attack missions.”

The H-21 “Flying Banana” is the first of its type in the UK and will eventually go on display inside the museum alongside another famous twin rotor helicopter, the Bristol Belvedere, which was actually built at Weston super Mare just four years later, in 1960.

The Helicopter Museum is a Registered Charity and houses the Worlds largest collection of helicopters including the World Speed Record Holder and two aircraft of the Queens Royal Flight. For information about the museum and its collection please visit


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