Two weekends ago, my husband and I met my parents at the Evergeen Aviation & Space Museum in McMinnville, OR.
He and I have been there a couple of times before. It’s best known for housing the Spruce Goose, as well as having an epic water park with a Boeing 747 perched on the roof, with water slides coming out of the escape doors.
But my absolute favorite . . . um . . . “flying apparatus” at the museum is this:
It’s known alternately as a “heli-vector” or an “aerocycle,” but neither of those names makes it sound at all like a machine where you’re essentially suspended like a carrot above the blades of a food processor.
I prefer to call it a murdercopter.
And I love this thing.
Look at this amazing photo (from the informational plaque) of the inventor, Lewis C. McCarty Jr., riding it in a full-on suit and tie.
I love his expression. He’s like, “I told all you all it would fly, but did you believe me? No. Well, this flight is for you, you hacks, you cretins.”
Or maybe he’s just holding on for dear life and trying not to let the panic show.
Either way, Lewis is killing it.
The aerocycle was intended to be an easy-to-operate machine that anyone could pick up with less than 20 minutes of instruction, and designed to be used for reconnaissance and transport over hazardous areas like mine fields.
To steer it, you were meant to simply shift your weight — like on a road bike or a segway.
Basically, it’s a flying segway.
I want one!
Let’s read more about it!
The plaque at the Evergreen museum notes that the aerocycle “had a tendency to kick up rocks and debris at the pilot. What’s more, the wooden rotor blades flexed at high speeds and collided, causing them to shatter and the platform to drop like a rock.”
Like a rock, you say?
The museum goes on to note that, “Amazingly, test pilot Capt. Selmer Sundby survived two such crashes before the Army terminated the program. Sundby was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for his work.”
I might wait for the next model to come out….
Wikipedia has some more information on this marvelous deathtrap.
But my favorite thing I found while searching out info is from this September 1955 issue of Flying Magazine, where the aerocycle is described with the glowing, dewy-eyed praise of someone who has never seen the counter-rotating rotors blades collide and shatter and drop the platform and operator “like a rock.”
I’m a bit obsessed with this thing.
What do you think?
Is the murdercopter a terrible idea, or a brilliant one in need of further testing? Would you raise your hand to try one out?
And — most importantly — should I figure out how to include one in my next book?
Let me know in the comments!