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Civilian Flying Bulls Sycamore

At the end of the Second World War, the Bristol Aeroplane Company in England began to develop an innovative type of helicopter. Under the leadership of Raoul Hafner, who emigrated from Austria to England prior to the Second World War, the company created the first ever helicopter to be built in Britain and its Mk 1 prototype took off on its maiden flight in 1947. The second version, the Mk 2, followed in 1949. By then it had 5 seats and was equipped with a 550 HP English Alvis-Leonides, 9-cylinder radial engine. 

The Sycamore was fitted with a triple-blade main rotor and a triple-blade rear rotor which together were responsible for an aircraft with lower-vibration and improved efficiency but they were also considerably more complex than twin-blade rotors from a design point of view. The rotor blades which are made entirely of wood are delicate, handcrafted works of art. The main rotor was designed so that the blades could be folded to one side, i.e. towards the rear boom. This meant that it was possible to save valuable space on naval vessels and in the hangar.

The Flying Bulls' aircraft was built in 1957 and served as a military helicopter in the German Armed Forces until it was withdrawn from service in 1969. Through various routes, the aircraft ended up in Switzerland in the hands of collector and helicopter enthusiast Peter Schmidt. 

It's now former owner's most fervent wish was that his Sycamore should retain its airworthiness. The helicopter was handed over to the Flying Bulls along with a massive stock of spare parts which the previous owner had painstakingly collected over the years.

“It was an epic spectacle, as magical as anything you've ever seen in the West End, and as loud as anything you've ever heard at Knebworth.”

Jeremy Clarkson, Television Presenter

“All the thrills, excitement and noise of a Grand Prix, but in the air!”

Jenson Button, Formula 1 Racing Driver

“Probably the most complete air show Iíve ever been to!”

Al Worden, Apollo 15 Astronaut

“This is THE best airshow!”

Buzz Aldrin, Apollo 11 Astronaut

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