AHMEC acquires new McCulloch J-2 Gyroplane

The Museum’s latest addition arrives on Friday, October 27, after a three-day road trip from Arizona. The aircraft was given by Marv Wessell to Light Horse Legacy with the understanding they would find a suitable home where the near fully restored aircraft could be admired by the public. When Dave Barron of Light Horse Legacy brought the Take Me Home Huey to AHMEC’s Fathers’s Day event in 2017, he recognized AHMEC as the future home for the J-2.   

The J-2 was a two-seat gyroplane built by the McCulloch Aircraft Corporation from a design by Drago Jovanovich who was active in early Piasecki design work in Philadelphia. It first flew as the Jovair J-2 in 1962. McCulloch acquired the design and put it in production in 1970-74. Some 83 gyroplanes were built at a reported sales price of $15,900.

This gyroplane N4353G has 100.7 hours of flight time, and will go on immediate display. Over the next year, volunteers will continue the restoration by forming and installing a new windshield. Acquisition of a used Lycoming engine will complete the project.

This has been the year of the gyroplane for AHMEC with the previous gift of the Bensen Hydroglider in June and another McCulloch J-2 undergoing restoration at the Piasecki Aircraft Corporation for eventual use as a learning tool for our young visitors exploring the world of gyroplanes.

The design featured a belt clutch and a transmission which could be engaged to spin the rotor blades to high speed before takeoff to produce short takeoff runs. The rotor could be spun to over 500 rpm before takeoff, well above the normal flight range (typically 425 rpm). After a very brief takeoff run (typically 25 to 200 feet, depending upon load and winds) adequate flight airspeed would be attained. The rotor was not engine-driven in flight.

The rotor system (hub and blades) is very similar to that found on the early versions of the Hughes 269 series helicopters.

Visit the Museum and watch this exciting event!