Firm With Rotorcraft Innovation History Plans Updated Version Of Sikorsky’s S-52


In 1970, Vertical Aviation Technologies’ (VAT) corporate ancestor Orlando Helicopter Airways introduced the Sikorsky S-55-based Heli-Camper, fully carpeted and soundproofed, with a pull-out awning, hot and cold running water, refrigerator, stove, shower, toilet, air conditioning, tinted windows and a bar. It slept four, was FAA certified and marketed by Winnebago.

Now, Florida-based VAT, having developed its Sikorsky S-52-based Hummingbird kit-copter since 1991, is seeking a strategic partner to produce an updated, certified version of the smaller 1940s/50s-vintage S-52. VAT has manufactured an experimental kit version derived from that aircraft under the name Hummingbird since 1991 after acquiring the engineering and flight-test data, as well as drawings from Sikorsky in 1987. If VAT President Brad Clark can locate a suitable partner and capital, he plans to target the commercial market with the rotorcraft. 

The new version “has been redesigned with modifications, new technology, new materials, and processes, notably in terms of safety and performance,” according to the company. According to the company website, “The engineers at Vertical Aviation Technologies continue to develop new and innovative products to offer its customers. VAT looks forward to the future and to all of the new products it will be introducing to the world.”

Mark Phelps
Mark Phelps is a senior editor at AVweb. He is an instrument rated private pilot and former owner of a Grumman American AA1B and a V-tail Bonanza.

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  1. IF …. capital.

    Does look cute, tail rotor and alighting gear look like S-52, I presume main rotor retained as that is a crucial systems costly to develop.

    Is nose licensed from Bell?

    Engine? Original and kit thing had piston 6 of Franklin and Lycoming.

  2. The helicamper concept sounds pretty marketable given the amount spent on RV’s these days.

    Whether a retro certified heli will have any appeal like a carbon cub, I’m not so sure.

    • Value for money, including value of style I suppose.

      Did one of the small helicopter manufacturers just go broke?
      Yes, Enstrom under Chinese ownership, in January, but in March someone in the US started working to resurrect the company.

      Long history, often short of money to expand product line.
      The 480 looks sleek (it is turbine powered).

  3. If RATIONAL K were to peruse Vertical Tech. website he would find that all of the dynamic components are type certificated as they were on the S52. The Hummingbird is the only homebuilt helicopter in the world embodying type certificated dynamic components.

    I doubt Bell (Textron) has a patent on the nose shape. But their nose would be bent out of shape if you called your kit aircraft a Jet Ranger .

    • But what will the new version have?
      I did not suggest they weren’t certified, but note they will have to be certified as compatible with the whole machine, which is aerodynamically different than the S-62.

      The correct term for protecting shape is not patent, unless it determines unique function, more likely something like trade mark. But Bell might be selling the parts to the other company.