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World's smallest (manned) helicopter ready for a spin. Answered

Those of us who've been dreaming of cheap personal air travel in the Buck Rogers, sci-fi jet-pack mode should turn their eyes towards Vinci, Italy on May 25. That's when Gennai Yanagisawa, inventor of the tiny GEN H-4 personal helicopter, will be taking his lightweight 165-pound whirly-gig on a demonstration flight.

Why Vinci? According to the 75-year-old Yanagisawa, "Since the concept of our helicopter came from Italy, I always wanted to take a flight in the birthplace of da Vinci."

Indeed, Leonardo's famous notebook drawings from 1493 show an "ornithopter" with a screw-like rotor. Like da Vinci's pioneering design, Yanagisawa's GEN H-4 has no tail. Instead, twin counter-rotating propellers cancel out the torque that requires single-rotor helicopters to have a perpendicular tail rotor.

The GEN H-4 personal helicopter is actually available for purchase now, though Yanagisawa's company (located in the Japanese city of Matsumoto) has so far sold only six (2 in the USA).

The cost for one is a reasonable $58,250 and once airborne, the GEN H-4 can fly at a somewhat sedate speed of 31 mph - slow yes, but probably faster than rush hour traffic. Veni, vidi, volanti!

It's the perfect commuter vehicle! Land on the roof of your office block, maybe it folds up, but certainly just push it into the corner to make space for your workmates to land. Sure, it only does 31mph, but it can go in a straight line, over the stationary traffic.

Story on InventorSpot

19 Replies

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southbayone (author)2010-11-04


Cool post youtube video was good!

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killerjackalope (author)2008-05-17

See now the real money would be in couriering, sure motorbikes and bicycles do well but this would have the couriers a much more interesting and probably much safer day, no more taxis up them and buses parking on their vehicles, in fact they can park on the buses. Also it doesn't look like expensive tech...

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user

are you from australia? dont really care but that heli is awesome

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westfw (author)killerjackalope2008-05-17

alas, if Segways managed to get kicked off of sidewalks in a bunch of cities, the regulations that are likely to spring up around a gadget with whirling blades of death are probably frightful indeed. Your chances of being able to take off and land close enough to centers of business to be an effective courier are pretty slim.

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killerjackalope (author)westfw2008-05-17

Not really, assuming they stuck to above the rooftops, probably under a maximum height too... if they weren't near the people on the ground it wouldn't be that much bother, until someone forgot to fill theirs up...

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SeMi_AuToMaTic (author)2010-11-01

I think its called an ornihopter

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kelseymh (author)SeMi_AuToMaTic2010-11-01

Nope. An ornithopter (note the spelling) has wings which flap like a bird's. A little research can go a long way.

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Plasmana (author)2008-09-16

This is really cool! I am really surprised that it has No tail! I want one, but too expensive...

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Kiteman (author)Plasmana2008-09-16

It doesn't need a tail - the contra-rotating blades cancel out each other's twist, leaving just lift.

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Plasmana (author)Kiteman2008-09-16

Yeah, I still find that quite amazing!

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xACIDITYx (author)2008-05-18

Awesome! Is there a video anywhere?

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Shadowmang (author)2008-05-21

Brings me back to when I saw my first James bond movie

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graywoulf (author)2008-05-18

For the money and quite a bit safer though not as compact, I would have to go with the "AirScooter". Check it out at http://www.airscooter.com/. It is an amazing ultralight personal heli.

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Lftndbt (author)2008-05-17

Gives new meaning to the phrase "flying by the seat of your pants". You would be a brave man to go commuting to work on one of those. "Sorry I am late David. I got caught I a NW crosswind and had some issues flying against it, then you would not believe my luck.... A flock of bloody rouge seagulls... Can't believe it, three times this week. Sorry it won't happen again mate" Boss-" You slept in again, didn't you steve....?"

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