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The Aerospatiale AS350 Ecureuil (`Squirrel') was intended as a successor to the Allouette series (see under military helicopters), but has found service primarily with civil operators. When it first flew in June 1974, its fibreglass rotor hub with elastomeric bearings was one of the most advanced in the world. It normally seats four, but can be modified for specialist roles such as air ambulance (for which it is really a bit too small). It is powered by a French Turbomeca Arriel turbine engine; a version for the American market, called the AStar, is powered by an American Lycoming turboshaft. Over 3,000 of all variants, both civil and military, have been built.

This Ecureuil was at Goodwood in August 2007.

The Aerospatiale AS332 Puma is a medium-lift helicopter designed for commercial operations such as offshore oil-rig support. Maximum accommodation is 23 passengers plus two crew. It has been in service since the 1970s. It is one of three types (the others being the Gazelle and Lynx) produced jointly by Aerospatiale in France and Westland in the UK.

This demonstrator was pictured at Paris - Le Bourget in the early 1980s. 

The Agusta 109 is the most successful helicopter developed by the Italian Agusta company. First flown in August 1971, it quickly became established as a reliable and robust light-medium load-carrier. Many versions have been built both for military and civil roles; it is widely used by several countries' police forces. Typical seating is for six people plus two crew, but it can lift up to 1,200Kg depending on configuration.

This A109 was at High Wycombe on a  wet day in July 2006 (photograph by Charles).

The Bell 206 JetRanger is one of the most successful and popular helicopters ever built. It first flew in December 1962, since when well over 5,000 have been built. It has one Allison turboshaft engine, making it very reliable and relatively economical for a helicopter. It is also used by many air forces, including the US Army, who call it the OH58 Kiowa.

This picture shows a JetRanger landing at Goodwood in April 2006.

The Bolkow / Kawasaki BK117  is a light transport helicopter which can carry up to ten people, though a more normal layout is for six. It is a joint venture between MBB in Germany and Kawasaki in Japan. The rotor head and main systems are based on the Bolkow 105 (see below). It can cruise at a respectable 155mph for a range of about 310 miles. It first flew in June 1979.

This one was at Davao in August 2005. Note the cable cutter above the windscreen, designed to save the rotor head from being disabled if the helicopter accidentally flies into a power cable.

The Brantly B2 is a very early light helicopter designed by N.O. Brantly. The prototype first flew in February 1953. A very unusual feature is the different (much thicker) rotor blade section on the innermost third of the rotor, and the lead/lag hinges being offset to the junction between the blade sections. It is a two seater, powered by a 180hp Lycoming engine. Top speed is 100mph and range is 250 miles.

This one was at Seething, July 2005

The Brantly 305 is a scaled-up, five person version of the original 1953 Brantly B-2, a very early helicopter design by American  designer N.O. Brantly. It is powered by a single 300 horsepower piston engine. The 305 first flew in January 1964. Its performance is adequate, but not brilliant: it can lift 500Kg and has a range of 220 miles.

This is one of the few 305s imported to Britain, and was seen at Sunderland in July 1976.

The Enstrom F28 is a very capable and popular light helicopter. Powered by a single 200 horsepower piston engine, it seats three people and is relatively economical (`relatively' being important in the horribly expensive world of helicopter flying). It first flew in May 1962, at which time it must have looked very futuristic. Several hundred have been built and are in service worldwide.

This elegantly painted example was parked on the lawn of a country house, Castle Ashby in Northamptonshire, in July 1976.

The Eurocopter EC120 Colibri is a chunky light helicopter built in France and China. It is a five seater, powered by a Turbomeca Arrius engine of 450shp, which gives it a gross weight of 3,770lb and useful load of 1,660lb. Rotor diameter is 32'10". Several hundred have been built; the type is still in production in 2007, deliveries having started in 1998.It has a range of 475 miles and top speed of 170mph.

This one was at High Wycombe in July 2007.

The Eurocopter AS550 Fennec is essentially a military derivative of the AS350 Ecureuil (see above). It is very similar to the earlier civial aircraft except that it has more powerful engines, updated systems and is strengthened for military use.

This one, operated by the Danish air force, was at Fairford in July 2005.

This pretty awful picture is the only one I have of a Fairchild-Hiller FH1100. This was an entry in the US Army's observation helicopter competition (in which it was designated OH-5), and first flew in January 1963. The competition was won by the Hughes OH-6, but Fairchild (who had just taken over helicopter pioneer Hiller) decided to proceed with it as a private civil venture. It can seat five. Powered by an Allison 250 turboshaft of 317shp, its top speed is 125mph and range is 350 miles. Rotor diameter is 35 feet 4 inches. It was built in fairly small numbers.

This photograph was taken on an ancient Kodak Brownie camera at Teesside in September 1974

The Hindustan Aeronautics (HAL) ALH (Advanced Light Helicopter) first flew in August 1992. It is the first helicopter to be designed and built solely in India. It is powered by two Turbomeca TM333 turboshafts of 1,000shp each, which gives it a top speed of 150mph and range of 490 miles. Maximum gross weight is 11,000lb. It is a medium sized machine, with a rotor diameter of 43 feet 4 inches, which can seat up to 14 people at a squeeze.

This one was at Farnborough, 1998

The Hughes 269 (sometimes designated Hughes 300) is a three seat light training and utility helicopter which first flew in October 1956. It is a very small, light machine (rotor diameter is 26 feet 10 inches; maximum weight is 2,050lb). Its 190hp Lycoming engine gives it a top speed of 95mph, and it has a range of 230 miles. Apart from civil sales, it has been widely used by the US Army (800 were built as the TH-55 Osage).

This one was at Fenland in 1997.

The Hughes 500 is a powerful, rugged, high performance helicopter derived from the US Army's OH6 Cayuse. It can theoretically carry seven people, but this must be a heck of a squeeze. It first flew in 1963 and has been progressively developed since then. Confusingly, some Hughes 500s are also referred to as the Hughes 369. It is powered by a single Allison turboshaft engine (essentially a turboprop fitted with a gearbox to direct the power vertically to the rotor, and a rotor clutch for starting.) Some 2,000 have been built, including military versions. It can carry up to 540 Kg for up to 380 miles.

The top one (G-GASA) was pictured at Shoreham in July 1984, and the lower at Top Farm in 2004.

McDonnell Douglas Helicopters MD-900

Gamston, November 2007

The wave of consolidation sweeping through the European aircraft industry in the 1970s created a German conglomerate called Messerschmitt - Bolkow - Blohm (MBB). Its first production helicopter was the MBB105. Although the first version flew as long ago as 1964, they are still widely used today. The four bladed rotor is relatively quiet, and the turbine engine very reliable, though expensive to run. Normally seating five people, it can also be converted as an air ambulance with room for two stretchers.

This one was at Fairford in July 2005.

The Robinson R22 is a two seat light helicopter designed in America by Franklin Robinson. The first development aircraft flew in 1975. The main production version, the Beta, was introduced in 1985. It is very popular, not least because it makes helicopter flying affordable: both the fuel and the maintenance costs make helicopters outrageously expensive to operate. Robinson deliberately aimed to reduce these costs by making the R22 as simple as possible, roughly halving the cost when compared to the then contemporary machines. It is powered by a 125hp Lycoming engine, driving a simple two bladed rotor of diameter just over 25 feet. It will travel at 95mph for up to 360 miles. About 3,000 have been built to date, and it remains in production (as of March 2006).

This one was photographed at Earl's Colne in June 2006.

The Robinson R44 is a four seat derivative of the R22. It competes with the far more expensive Bell JetRanger series, but is far cheaper. It first flew in March 1990, since when over 1,000 have been built; it remains in production. its 225hp Lycoming O-540 delivers a cruising speed of 130mph and range of 400 miles. With 33 foot diameter rotors, it is a substantially bigger aircraft than the R22, but is similarly economical to operate and correspondingly popular.

This one called in to Top Farm for fuel in December 2005.

This very blurred picture of a Sikorsky S-76 was taken at Cebu in July 2005. The S-76 was developed as a successor to the earlier, and very popular, S-61 / Sea King range (see under military helicopters). It first flew in March 1977, since when about 500 or so have been built. It has two 650hp Allison 250 turboshaft engines, which enable it to cruise at over 140mph for almost 700 miles (depending on payload). Typical seating is for 12 passengers plus two crew.