The American Helicopter Museum and Education Center (AHMEC) recently added two Kitty Hawk Flyers to its collection. The electric Vertical Takeoff and Landing (eVTOL) aircraft, gifts from their inventor, Kitty Hawk Corporation in Palo Alto, California, were intended to serve as recreational vehicles.
The lightweight, single seat aircraft are each eight feet long, 13 feet wide, and powered by 10 lithium polymer batteries. Their 10 direct current (DC) electric motors drive10 double-bladed, 47-inch diameter rotors. Their maximum speed of 30 miles per hour allows for 15 to 20 minutes of flight.
“The Museum has two Flyers, one for display at our entrance and one for visitors to sit in. The experience in an eVTOL is very different from our other helicopters that visitors can access,” explained Tony Freeman, AHMEC’s Chair of the Exhibits Committee. “Since a certain agility is needed to climb into this recreational aircraft, special steps are being built for easier access.”
Looking more like a sideways eggbeater than an actual helicopter the Kitty Hawk Flyer’s slim open cockpit allows for legs to stretch forward, reminiscent of a drag racing car. A two-inch control stick operates the machine that sports 10 rotors just inches away from the seat. It’s so easy to fly that pilots do not need a license or much more than about two hours of instruction.
“Perhaps fewer than a couple of hundred persons nation-wide have ever sat in an eVTOL. It’s so easy to imagine oneself buzzing over the rooftops of West Chester (buzz is the actual sound these eVTOLs make),” Freeman said. “The ability for the Museum to provide that experience to our visitors will be hugely inspirational, in line with our mission to educate and inspire.”
AHMEC will be extending its current hours by adding an extra weekday on Thursday, June 17, from 10 a.m. until at 5 p.m. It will also be offering its first helicopter rides on World Helicopter Day, Sunday, August 15, from noon until 4:30 p.m.