Hughes blades

C. Beaty

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Many years ago, about 1970, I acquired a pair of Hughes-269 rotor blades that the previous owner had sawed a taper at the root end to mimic Bensen metal blades. His attempts at flying them on a gyro had ended in failure; broke ground but just barely.
I recognized the built in “helicopter” twist of 8 degrees was backwards for gyro use and the blades would have to be inverted and run in the opposite direction to suit a gyro.
Anyhow, as I set out to build a hub, my good friend Willy (WA Roberts) said, “Chuck, them things won’t autorotate.” I said, “Why not, Willy, they autorotate on a helicopter?” Willy replied,”autogyro blades have to be flat bottomed.”
Anyhow, fly they did, outperforming existing metal gyro blades including Bensen, Rotordyne and Stanzee.
In 1972 for the PRA flyin at Rialto CA, I disassembled my gyro, built a crate for it and shipped it to Rialto. People in Rialto just couldn’t believe some nut from Florida would try to fly with symmetrical airfoil rotor blades but fly it did, out performing traditional rotor blades. I let everyone at Rialto who wanted to fly my Hughes rotor on their own gyro do so. We had to safety wire the Bendix prerotator gear down to keep it from engaging from a “backwards” rotor. Most people just couldn’t get over how much better it flew than their existing rotor, commenting about how much cooler the Mac ran when flying my Hughes blades.
So, here we are 50 years later, still hung up on the same misconceptions and still using Bensen’s 8H12 miscarriage. The NACA 8H12 was an early NACA attempt at fitting a laminar airfoil to a helicopter. Didn’t work because laminar boundary layers don’t stay attached under the influence of centrifugal force on rotors or propellers.
 

Jerry_Forest

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Hi Chuck. Here's a link to Rockford PRA Flyin '75 video:
There is a clip of you doing your rotor overspeed turn followed by a climb-out with the engine at idle. Yah the 269's were great blades - the only proviso was you had to have a prerotator as they could not be started using the Armstrong method.

This Video was posted back in November 2017 on the History page. There are photos there including Bensen's "flying" prerotator
 

DavePA11

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Makes me wish I was a mechanical engineer rather than electrical. All that fun even back to 1970's... Never knew.
 

BEN S

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The music from the 40's is nice, but doesn't fit with the 1970's video....
needs some Led Zepplin or Black Sabbath!
 

BEN S

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Is there an award for most useless comment? ;)
 

WaspAir

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Many years ago, about 1970, I acquired a pair of Hughes-269 rotor blades
...
Anyhow, as I set out to build a hub, my good friend Willy (WA Roberts) said, “Chuck, them things won’t autorotate.” I said, “Why not, Willy, they autorotate on a helicopter?” Willy replied,”autogyro blades have to be flat bottomed.”
Anyhow, fly they did, outperforming existing metal gyro blades including Bensen, Rotordyne and Stanzee.
In 1972 for the PRA flyin at Rialto CA, I disassembled my gyro, built a crate for it and shipped it to Rialto. People in Rialto just couldn’t believe some nut from Florida would try to fly with symmetrical airfoil rotor blades but fly it did, out performing traditional rotor blades.
I don't understand what's surprising about symmetrical airfoils on a gyro by that time. The A&S 18A gyros, built in 1965, had symmetrical blades. The McCulloch J2, contemporaneously in serial production with the events described, used the same rotorhead and metal blades (with appropriately modified twist) as the Hughes 269.
 
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C. Beaty

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Hi Chuck. Here's a link to Rockford PRA Flyin '75 video
Thanks, Jerry. One year and it could have been 1975, Ron Menzie had his heart set on flying to Oshkosh with the gang that usually made the trip from Rockford but blew his Mac shortly before departure so I let him fly my gyro with Hughes blades and drove up dragging my empty trailer. We both made it.
Do you remember fellow Canadian Al Cudney? As I heard it, Al showed up at Bensen’s door in his VW camper with wife, dog and gyro on a trailer and asked Bensen for a job. Bensen must have felt sorry for Al and gave him a job. Mrs Bensen fired Al constantly but the kindly Bensen always hired him back.
I first encountered Al at a Sunstate flyin (my first) in 1970 when Al showed up
as a Bensen Rep. At a group meeting, someone, looking at the first set of Bensen metal rotor blades said “Mr. Cudney, wouldn’t those blades fly better without all those rivets? Al responded, “No, those are laminar flow blades and the rivets are essential to keep the blades from overspeeding and blowing up.” That was my first exposure to Mr. Cudney.
Jerry, I’m not picking on Canadians; I expect that with 9x the population of Canada, we have at least 9x as many Al Cudneys. The last I heard from Al, he had taken a job as a NC State prison guard.
 

C. Beaty

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Wolfy, I come on at 2:30 in the film, following Ken Brock’s dead stick landing. The gyros are mostly all Bensens, all looking about the same except mine is the only one with a proper horizontal tail mounted underneath the vertical tail instead of the Bensen “rock guard.”
It is not completely accurate to say Hughes helicopter blades could not be hand started; they could be started by a pair of “armstrong” prerotators, one on each side.
 

C. Beaty

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Had to give up gyrocoptering Wolfy; my eyesight is barely good enough to keep my drivers license.
 

Smack

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Maybe we can put you in a 2-seater Chuck !?
I hope to have one to offer in the not-to-distant future...
Brian
 

Sky Gonso

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Many years ago, about 1970, I acquired a pair of Hughes-269 rotor blades that the previous owner had sawed a taper at the root end to mimic Bensen metal blades. His attempts at flying them on a gyro had ended in failure; broke ground but just barely.
I recognized the built in “helicopter” twist of 8 degrees was backwards for gyro use and the blades would have to be inverted and run in the opposite direction to suit a gyro.
Anyhow, as I set out to build a hub, my good friend Willy (WA Roberts) said, “Chuck, them things won’t autorotate.” I said, “Why not, Willy, they autorotate on a helicopter?” Willy replied,”autogyro blades have to be flat bottomed.”
Anyhow, fly they did, outperforming existing metal gyro blades including Bensen, Rotordyne and Stanzee.
In 1972 for the PRA flyin at Rialto CA, I disassembled my gyro, built a crate for it and shipped it to Rialto. People in Rialto just couldn’t believe some nut from Florida would try to fly with symmetrical airfoil rotor blades but fly it did, out performing traditional rotor blades. I let everyone at Rialto who wanted to fly my Hughes rotor on their own gyro do so. We had to safety wire the Bendix prerotator gear down to keep it from engaging from a “backwards” rotor. Most people just couldn’t get over how much better it flew than their existing rotor, commenting about how much cooler the Mac ran when flying my Hughes blades.
So, here we are 50 years later, still hung up on the same misconceptions and still using Bensen’s 8H12 miscarriage. The NACA 8H12 was an early NACA attempt at fitting a laminar airfoil to a helicopter. Didn’t work because laminar boundary layers don’t stay attached under the influence of centrifugal force on rotors or propellers.
So NACA 015 with 8 degrees twist in ???? length. Is that twist washout or washin? thanks
 

WaspAir

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Less pitch at the tips as used in the helicopter. Running upside-down in reverse rotation direction for a gyro with increased pitch at the tips.
Original rotor diameter is about 26 feet.
 

C. Beaty

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Perhaps; for my personal use, a sketch on a yellow note pad was good enough but Pete Johnson made and sold a fair number of hub bars for 269 and OH-6 blades so he most likely had a good set of drawings.
Haven’t heard from Pete in a year or so.
 

okikuma

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Evening Chuck,

I was at Santa Paula Airport KSZP earlier today visiting my friends when I realized I may have photos of the rotor hub bars that were created for Hughes 269 blades. As soon a arrived back home, I did a search, and sure enough, here are the photos that I took at the museum at Mentone.

Wayne
 

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Jerry_Forest

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Re: Al Cudney
Chuck, I only knew of Al thru the PRA magazine (which I started getting in '66). I heard that he was from Kingston, Ontario, and was the first to get a homebuilt gyro registered in Canada - ie, he got Transport Canada to write up the specs for gyro building and pilot licensing. This was in ~ 1960. There were earlier gyros built and flying but not legally. What was legal was towed flight as long as it was less than 150 ft AGL. This was called "kite" flying and it didn't matter what kind of kite it was.
Jerry
 

C. Beaty

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Jerry, flying on the end of a rope was evidently about the same in Canada as in the US.
I always considered Al Cudney a friend but after they made him, they threw the pattern away; he was one of a kind.
 
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