Wednesday, April 22, 2009
Chen Zhao Rong is the builder of this crazy little homemade helicopter and has somewhat of an amazing little tale. His education seemingly failed him before he made it to middle school and never learned to read English, limiting him to some really horrible Engrish. But Chen's always been more interested in mechanical engineering, though without the formal education and training, than English. But More.. he's had to figure both out on his own. Now there are plenty of people out there that fit within the same realm as Chen, but they typically don't set out to build a helicopter as their first project.
Chen decided the only way he'd be able to realize his dream was by using the vast resource of the often time-blocked or heavily-censored Chinese internet, attempting to locate foreign-language flight and engineering websites. It was on these sites where he spent countless hours poring over schematics and carefully studying diagrams in order to start building his own personal helicopter. When he was confident enough in his abilities, Chen started out by building and welding all of the parts himself, all the while, cross checking his internet-sourced research images.
Once he had completed all necessary components for the space frame, he located, purchased and mounted an older used motor. He had finally completed the build of his very own, homemade helicopter after roughly two years of development and a little less than RMB 70,000 ($10,294 USD), but there was one final challenge that faced Chen — He needed to learn how to fly it ... without killing himself.
Eventually, after many false starts, Chen got himself off the ground like the little Chinese Wright Brother he is and as you can see in the video below, he looks to be fairly confident in his homemade craft's abilities.
Chen's luck would not last long. In May 2008, while he was taking to the skies on his way to a neighboring village his motor sputtered to a stop at nearly 70 km/h, sending him hurtling back to Earth and eventually landing in a field. Chen managed to survive the crash and even walked his self-defeated ass all the way back home. He probably wished he would have died because when he finally arrived back home, his wife was irate and left him for a week and then threatened to leave him for good if he didn't stop flying. Not only was Chen's wife unhappy, but news of his crash traveled the airwaves and eventually caught the attention of local police who made him sign a document stating that he would never fly again.
Saturday, April 18, 2009
The first plane to be so titled was known as the Wee Bee.
The diminutive plane was designed, built, and flown by Ken Coward, William Chana, and Karl Montijo in San Diego, California, during the late 1940s. Just over 14 ft (4.25 m) long and with a wingspan of only 18 ft (5.5 m), the Wee Bee was powered by a 30-hp piston engine and could carry a maximum of 200 lb (90 kg), including the pilot and fuel. Weight was kept to a minimum by having the pilot lay in a prone position atop the fuselage