Antoine Gazda's « Helicospeeder »: a cousin of Sikorsky's VS-300

Stargazer2006

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the Gazda Model 100 Helicospeeder [NX69154] was a single-seat helicopter of all-aluminium construction designed by Antoine (Antonio) Gazda of Wakefield, Rhode Island in 1946. Gazda had been a World War I combat pilot, an ace, in the Austrian Air Force. A Swiss citizen, he had owned an aircraft factory in Switzerland that retracted into a mountain for military reasons. He also marketed the Fairchild 24 in Europe. After he emigrated to the USA, his personal friends included Governors and Senators, even the cousin of the King of England. During a general conversation, Harold E. "Hal" Lemont told Gazda of his work with Igor Sikorsky; Gazda asked if Lemont would like to design and build a helicopter for him. They
agreed that Lemont would lay out a design for a two-pJace helicopter, and thus the Gazda Model 100 was begun.

The Helicospeeder was manufactured by Helicopter Engineering & Construction Co. and designed in accordance with general practice at that time. The fuselage was welded steel aircraft tub­ing. Main rotor blades were steel tubular spars, wooden leading edge wire cable training edge and airplane fabric covering. Cast aluminum gear cases and industrial/automotive gears, bearings, belts, and pulleys were used. The wheels came from a Piper Cub. Considering the limited pool of knowledge and experience in helicopter design, and Mr. Lemont's earlier background with the Sikorsky VS-300, it is natural that there would be considerable similarity between these two machines.

The Gazda Model 100 had several very innovative design features, including:
  • It was a helicogyro, having auxiliary propulsion.
  • It had a single wheel/stick control:raise for collective; pull fore and aft and sideways for cyclic and turn wheel fordirectional control.
  • It had an internal swash plate (belowthe main rotor gearbox) and internalmain rotor push rods.
  • Its Cierva-type rotor hub, with hydraulicinterconnect links between blades, made ground resonance impossible.
  • Initially, attempts were made to use ajet of air from the tail to counter torque. However, due to difficulties, a tail rotor was used that could be turned 90 degrees by the pilot, and thus serve as a push propeller for added thrust.
The Model 100 was constructed in the Rhode Island area during World War II, incorporating some surplus aircraft items. Powered by a 75 hp (56 kW) Continental A-75 engine, it was specified to carry one person and publicity releases claimed an ultimate goal of a 300 mph (483 km/h) maximum airspeed. Flight testing was done by Mr. Gazda himself, whose limited experience at the controls of a rotorcraft may have been detrimental to success of these tests. The designer/constructor carried out test flights and a more modest actual speed of 100 mph (161 km/h) was reached.

Production examples were expected to sell for 5,000 U.S. dollars, but no firm sales were made. As Gazda came to understand the difficulty in learning to fly the aircraft, plus the cost of further development, he decided to discontinue further work on this innovative aircraft, and only one example of the initial version was completed. Antoine Gazda had also planned to build the Model 101 — intended to accommodate two persons — but no record of its completion has been found.

The Helicospeeder was sold at auction after Mr. Gazda passed away, and was purchased by HAl Past-Chairman Vincent Colicci, who eventually sold it to Dr. Voss. After some years at AgRotors in Pennsylvania, Stanley Hiller took it on loan for his aviation museum in San Carlos, California, and had it restored to its original condition (it would appear that the Model 100 was also placed on public display at some point in time in the Owls Head Transportation Museum at Knox County Regional Airport—located two miles south of Rockland, Maine.)

The Gazda Helicospeeder is a one-of-a-kind helicopter with many similarities to the VS-300 — yet has many unique and innovative features. Both the aircraft and its chief designer, Mr. Lemont, have earned a place in helicopter history.





Sources:
 

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walter

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Hi Stéphane :)
Thank you for the wonderful article on the Helicospeeder. I always wondered why I had seen photos with both the airjet tail nozzle and with the tail rotor. You explained this perfectly. Thanks.
Before you get on a plane and visit Owls Head Museum, I understand that the Helicospeeder is now part of the Hiller Museum in California.


Best Regards, Walter
 

Stargazer2006

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walter said:
Thank you for the wonderful article on the Helicospeeder.

Though it took me a while to research and organize the information, I have little merit in the writing for this one. 80% of the text was reproduced from the original articles that I quoted as my sources.

walter said:
Before you get on a plane and visit Owls Head Museum, I understand that the Helicospeeder is now part of the Hiller Museum in California.

Thanks! I must have gotten confused with the chronology of events. I have slightly edited the article to reflect that correction. ;)
 

hesham

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Re: Antoine Gazda's Helicopter conversion of Convair B-36 (Patent)

Hi,

Gazda created a folded rotor blade to can used as a landing device in case of failed engines in Convair B-36.

http://archive.aviationweek.com/image/spread/19470915/25/2
 

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hesham

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Re: Antoine Gazda's Helicopter conversion of Convair B-36 (Patent)

hesham said:
Hi,

Gazda created a folded rotor blade to can used as a landing device in case of failed engines in Convair B-36.

http://archive.aviationweek.com/image/spread/19470915/25/2

Also he did that for Douglas DC-3 ?.
 

barbara_em

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Re: Antoine Gazda's Helicopter conversion of Convair B-36 (Patent)

hesham said:
Hi,

Gazda created a folded rotor blade to can used as a landing device in case of failed engines in Convair B-36.

http://archive.aviationweek.com/image/spread/19470915/25/2

Interesting idea; considering the lengths to which the air force went to reduce combat weight on the B-36, not too practical, however.
 

hesham

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Re: Antoine Gazda's Helicopter conversion of Convair B-36 (Patent)

barbara_em said:
Interesting idea; considering the lengths to which the air force went to reduce combat weight on the B-36, not too practical, however.

That's right Barbara,and for DC-3 was more useful.
 

Peripatetica

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Hi Stéphane :)
Thank you for the wonderful article on the Helicospeeder. I always wondered why I had seen photos with both the airjet tail nozzle and with the tail rotor. You explained this perfectly. Thanks.
Before you get on a plane and visit Owls Head Museum, I understand that the Helicospeeder is now part of the Hiller Museum in California.


Best Regards, Walter
Walter -

St
walter said:
Thank you for the wonderful article on the Helicospeeder.

Though it took me a while to research and organize the information, I have little merit in the writing for this one. 80% of the text was reproduced from the original articles that I quoted as my sources.

walter said:
Before you get on a plane and visit Owls Head Museum, I understand that the Helicospeeder is now part of the Hiller Museum in California.

Thanks! I must have gotten confused with the chronology of events. I have slightly edited the article to reflect that correction. ;)
Walter, Stéphane, et al.:

OP (Stéphane?) is correct; the helicospeeder is at Owls Head Transportation Museum (source: I've worked there for the past 7 years and it was there an hour ago ;)). It was in storage across the airport for years before that, but we brought it back to the museum proper in 2019, and it's been on display since June of that year, as part of an exhibit called "Fads & Failures". We're even showing archival footage of it hopping around trying to fly. Gazda was known to...embellish. He flat-out lied about being a WWI ace, but many journalists took it in good faith. Plenty of Americans REMFs falsely claimed to have been in the Escadrille Lafayette. Just harder to fact-check at the time. The only way I could imagine the helicospeeder going 100mph would be if it was behind a truck on a trailer!

I got a phone call out of the blue today from a guy who'd known Gazda and seen the helicospeeder projects in full swing; his father was friends with him. That triggered my occasional web search and I found this site. I took a couple of shots of the odd duck today; if anyone's interested, ping me at sd@ohtm.org. Sorry, the photos aren't online yet. We should have the exhibit up for at least another year; I don't know if any of you has ever hung an airplane from the ceiling - or taken one down - but it is a LOT of work and that Gazda shouldn't be coming down anytime soon.

Cheers,

Peripatetica

 
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