The Mechanical Tweetie Bird

Checkout this little jewel of a flying machine. A good friend of mine, we’ll call him THM for now, is probably the best machinist I’ve ever come across in my days. He put this bird together. It was equipped with a 4 cyl piston aircraft engine originally, but rather costly to keep flying due to the yearly majors and maintenance fees. So after doing some research he decided to try using a turbine engine and reconfigure the drive train from the ground up. It was a radical idea but proved to be a good one.

The turbine engine he finally settled on was a Solar unit used on the CH-47 (Sky Hook) helicopters for power generation and the hydraulic systems. He purchased two or three of them and put one together that was air worthy. That was the easy part and he moved on to designing the drive train. The transmission had to be built from square one to achieve the right gear ratio including shafts, gears, bearings and that whole ball of wax.

THM owns a well equipped machine shop and set about using his expertise to build the transmission and related drive train components piece by piece. The original main rotor shaft was also re-fabricated from titanium stock due to some harmonics encountered with the changes to the drive train.

The skill set required to do something like that says everything you need to know about the man. He’s a machinist with the heart of an engineer and the vision to make it all fly.

The trailer (bird cage) is used to move it to air shows. If time allows I’ll get some video of it flying next spring.


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