A Chopper is Born
To this day, I still can’t get over the fact that it is even possible, or legal, to build a two-seater, kit helicopter at home, in your garage. Honestly. It’s mental.
I chose a Rotorway Exec 162F – a truly beautiful machine. Really well engineered, in my humble opinion, and quite simply the best looking kit helicopter on the market at the time. I was lucky enough to spend a couple of weeks flying out of the company’s base in Phoenix, Arizona. What a laugh. Doors off, low level over the desert. Brilliant. In the US, a toy like this is so much more useable. General aviation is regulated, of course, but the size of the place means you feel free in a way it is much harder to achieve over here in the UK.
From a kit-building perspective this is the Mother of all projects. Get it wrong and it’s going to be serious, almost certainly life-threatening. We filmed the build project in a shed at the Rotorway importers farm near Stanstead airport. All the bits came from the US in a huge crate. Unpacking it was better than Christmas. I remember pulling out a large piece of card, the size of a pizza box, with two big bolts shrink-wrapped to it. I enquired. ‘They’re Jesus bolts’, I was told. Why so I wondered. ‘If either of them breaks, you’re going to meet him’ !