helio courier a spectacular short field performer with an ivy league pedigree

What six-passenger airplane is comparable in dimension to a Beechcraft Bonanza, can conveniently remove from a football area, reach over 30,000 feet, maneuver at much less than 50 miles per hr, and also come down on any type of fairway? That functional airplane is none aside from the Helio Courier. Generated from 1954 to 1974 and also once again in the very early 1980s, the Helio Courier became the Swiss Army blade of brief area procedures as well as went far for itself as a qualified and also unbelievably flexible entertainer.

The tale starts in the creativity of a number of PhDs, MIT Professor Dr. Otto C. Koppen as well as Harvard Professor Dr. Lynn Bollinger. In the years prior to World War II, Dr. Koppen had actually benefited Stout Metal Airplane (later on Boeing) as well as contributed in creating the effective Ford Trimotor. Signing up with the professors of MIT in the very early 1930s to show security as well as control, he continued to be energetic creating one-of-a-kind styles for the industrial market.

After the battle, both Koppen and also Bollinger started to consider demands for a brief launch and also touchdown (STOL) airplane that can securely run out of not really prepared touchdown strips. In 1949, the duo developed the Helio Corporation of Massachusetts as well as started to try out high-lift wings. The model of what would at some point come to be the Helio Courier was a thoroughly changed Piper 17 Vagabond, called the Koppen-Bollinger Helioplane, or Helio One. Examination trips happened at the Greater Boston Metropolitan Airport (currently Boston Logan) as well as quickly verified the success of the standard layout concept.

The wing of Helio One included full-span automated leading-edge slats, 80%-period fowler flaps as well as an one-of-a-kind aileron/spoiler mix. These included 2 square ailerons situated at the outboard tracking sides of the wing that were mechanically attached to “interceptor gadgets” (looters) near the leading side. These release as each aileron relocates the higher instructions. The looters offered prompt roll feedback and also offseted the inefficacy of the ailerons at sluggish rates.

With the wing moved virtually undamaged to the manufacturing airplane, the Helio Courier model included a huge upright tail as well as an effective stabilator to give the control utilize required to take care of the amazing lift offered by the wing.


Power for the first versions was supplied by a tailored 295-horsepower GO-480-G1D6 Lycoming six-cylinder engine. This tailored engine was picked to permit the large-diameter prop called for to raise this device right into the air.

Eager viewers will certainly keep in mind in the picture that the primary touchdown equipment is placed well onward of the cabin to help with difficult stopping by minimizing the danger of a nose over. Much less noticeable is the crosswind touchdown equipment that enables the wheels to wheel up to 20 levels left or. Incorporated with the huge upright stabilizer, these style includes permit touchdowns in much less than 500 feet in as much as a 25-knot crosswind!

Taken with each other, these layout includes permit the Helio Courier to remove “throughout” the size of a 200-foot-wide path, as it commonly did at airshows. Workflow out of 500-foot forest as well as backcountry paths were thought about regular. Power-off delay rate is a stimulating 31 miles per hr, and also with the grunt given by the huge Lyc as well as the large prop, the Courier might navigate pleasantly at 28 miles per hr.

Manufacturing started in Pittsburg, Kansas, in 1954 as well as proceeded till 1974. Throughout that time, greater than 500 Helio Couriers, in a range of specialized setups, gone out the manufacturing facility door. Preliminary clients consisted of missionary air travel drivers like the Jungle Aviation and also Radio Service (JAARS) that offered separated populaces worldwide. The Courier additionally located a passionate target market amongst bush pilots in Alaska, Canada and also worldwide. Police divisions quickly found that the 30 miles per hour ability to move of the Helio Courier made it a less-expensive option to helicopters, enabling drivers to track the crooks with infrared scanners at lowered expense.


The birth of the Helio Courier additionally synchronized nicely with the Cold War in between the United States and also the Soviet Union. All of a sudden, the need for concealed procedures developed a need for the Helio Courier’s one-of-a-kind capacities. Almost fifty percent of the complete manufacturing run was dedicated to loading orders from the U.S. Air Force, U.S. Army Special procedures command as well as various other federal government firms. Referred To As the U-10 Super Courier, these airplane saved downed pilots, executed reconnaissance and also onward air control, as well as placed and also drawn out soldiers in the area. One of the most significant consumer was Air America, the private airline company stated to be secretly possessed as well as run by the CIA.

Air America appointed the obscure U-5A Twin Courier. This variation took the airframe from the single-engine Helio Courier and also customized it to lug 2 Lycoming 0-540 six-cylinder engines, together with including a clear nose area and also wing pointer gas containers. The engines were placed well onward on the wing and also near the body. While little bit even more is recognized of the kind, it was FAA-certified in 1963 as well as run by Air America. We can just presume what single-engine procedures resembled.

Currently, concerning that elevation document! In 1957, a Helio Courier, appropriately called the Strato Courier, was changed with a 340-horsepower variation of the tailored Lycoming for an elevation document effort. It functioned. The airplane reached 31,200 feet over Mexico City. Okay for a backcountry super star. As well as based upon the concept that any kind of airplane is enhanced by positioning a wind turbine engine in the nose, numerous Helio Stallion conversions were produced with Pratt & & Whitney PT6As. As anticipated, the torque offered by these helicopter-based engines returns incredible efficiency.

Today, the Helio Courier as well as its numerous versions bear up in shrub and also backcountry traveling. Changed by its even more modern-day turboprop Kodiak or Caravan competitors, it stays an impressive entertainer. Any person that has actually observed a Helio Courier remove in relatively its very own size and afterwards stand up and down on its tail as it climbs up out at an airshow will certainly concur that this is one extraordinary aircraft!


Find out about one more Incredible Plane, the Lockheed YO-3 Quiet Star.