Monday 5 September 2022

Homebuilt Helicopters of New Zealand - Rotorway Execs Early Models

The Rotorway Exec helicopter was a development of earlier helicopters that were designed by B J Schramm from the early 1960s.  The Rotorway Exec 90 was designed in the 1970s and first flew in 1980.  It has a welded chrome moly frame around the two seat cabin and engine and a monocoque aluminium  tailboom with a streamlined fibreglass body covering the frame.  It was powered by an engine developed by Rotorway from a 4 cylinder Porsche engine but with water cooled heads.  The engine was mounted vertically to drive the rotor shaft via a duplex chain and belts, and the tail rotors were belt driven.  In the Exec 90 the engine was a RW 145 of 145 cubic inch capacity and it produced 145 HP at 4,500 rpm.

The Rotorway company has undergone various changes of ownership over the years, being purchased in the 1980s by Englishman and Rotorway helicopter owner John Netherwood who moved the company to Chandler, Arizona, and then in 1998 the company became employee owned, and most recently, in 2021, the company ceased business and was taken over by Rotor X Aircraft manufacturing who hired many of the former employees and have named Rotorway's last helicopter, the A 600 Talon as the Phoenix A 600.

The specifications for the Rotorway Exec (for the later 162F model) are:  length 22 feet (6.71 metres), rotor diameter 25 feet (7.62 metres).  The empty weight is around 975 pounds (442 kg) and the MAUW is 1,500 pounds (680 kg).  The cruising speed is around 80 knots and the rate of climb is around 1,000 feet per minute at sea level.

We have had nine Rotorway Exec 90 helicopters registered in New Zealand as follows:

Our first Rotorway Exec (and the first homebuilt helicopter registered in New Zealand), was ZK-HFR (c/n 3087) which was registered to Funnell Aviation Services Ltd (John Funnell) of Taupo on 21/12/82.  I photo'd it above at Taupo in 1987 still looking like it has not flown.

It is photo'd here, also at Taupo, on 29/8/89.  It suffered damage when a clutch failure resulted in a heavy landing on 25/3/83.  Ownership transferred to S J Docherty of Kawarau on 22/6/90, then to C R Adlam of New Plymouth on 15/11/91, then to S C Rowe of Rongotea on 18/3/96 and finally to A M Maydon of Waitati on 13/8/96.  It was cancelled from the register as withdrawn on 5/9/06.

The next Rotorway Exec to be registered was ZK-HTG (c/n AACA/546/AACA/3081) which was registered to the Grant T Twist Marketing Partnership of Dannevirke on 2/8/84.  It is photo'd above at Taupo on 6/8/94.  On 15/7/86 ownership transferred to D L Grange of Auckland.  It was cancelled as withdrawn on 23/10/98.

I think the first Rotorway Exec to fly in New Zealand was ZK-HUB (c/n AACA/545) which was built by Keith Wein, initially in Wellington, and it was registered to him at Taupo on 17/12/84.  I photo'd it above at Taupo in 1987.  It was damaged near Taupo on 9/2/88.  It was sold to N S Buchanan of Plimmerton on 4/8/96 then on 22/5/10 to C W (Cliff) Johnston of Hastings.  He rebuilt it and modified the rotor drive from chain to toothed belt, but it was cancelled as withdrawn on 25/7/11.

Next came a couple of Rotorway Execs that were built in Auckland.  The first was ZK-HVB (c/n 33834) that was registered to Tellus Vacuum Cleaners Ltd of Auckland on 12/6/85.  It was sold to the J K and R M Barrow syndicate of Hamilton on 25/7/89 and it is still current with Keith Barrow at Gordonton.  Try as I might I have not been able to get a photo of it although Keith told me that it is painted red and white with a yellow stripe.  The best I can do for a photo at this time is this image from Google Maps!  Can anyone supply a photo?

And the second Auckland machine was ZK-HVP (c/n NZRA/181) that was built by H H Schilling and was first registered to him on 7/11/85.  I photo'd it above at Ardmore in 1986.  Ownership changed to S R Taylor of Auckland on 24/2/88 and he completed the helicopter and flew it from his home at Greenhithe. Next it went to Alpha Helicopters of Auckland on 3/3/89.  And amazingly it then went on 30/10/93 to the same J K and M R Barrow of Hamilton who also own ZK-HVB.  It is also still current but dismantled for overhaul.  On 5/10/10 its c/n was changed to 3196.

The first Rotorway Exec to be registered to a South Island owner was ZK-HPW2 (c/n AACA/616) that was built by N J Clark of Christchurch and was registered to him on 13/3/87.  I have not been able to find a photo of it as ZK-HPW2, but on 30/7/92 ownership transferred to Heli Hind Helicopters (Shaun Ryan) of Kowhitirangi and he re-registered the helicopter as ZK-HHK2.  It went to the M & R Partnership of Alexandra on 26/10/00 and it is photo'd above at Alexandra on 16/12/03.  Finally it went to P F Clark of Ashburton on 2/12/06.  Its registration was cancelled on 4/8/08.

Hank Courtenay of Lower Hutt built Rotorway Exec ZK-HXY and it was registered to him on 
7/10/87.  It is photo'd at Paraparaumu under his ownership.  It was sold on 14/6/91 to the T H Ruddenau Farming Co of Glencairn Station near Dipton in Southland, and then on 10/1/94 to Garrymore Farms Ltd of Rangiora.  It was cancelled from the register on 23/5/95 and may have been sold to Australia..

ZK-HMK2 (c/n 6019) was registered to Sanders Rotary Ltd of Tauranga on 10/8/95 and was their demonstrator.  It is photo'd above at the 1998 SAANZ flyin at Matamata.  On 20/11/99 ownership transferred to A W Meyer of Taupo.  It was next heard of when advertised for sale on Trade Me in May 2018 when it had a partly installed Solar T-62T-32-2 150 shaft HP gas turbine engine.  However it was cancelled from the register as revoked on 28/6/21.

And our final Rotorway Exec 90 to be registered here was ZK-HWZ2 (c/n 6382) was built by T C Pike of Auckland and it was registered to him on 16/11/99.  It was damaged on 24/6/00 near Waimauku but it is still registered to T C Pike of Waimauku.  I photo'd it stored in Tim's large workshop at Waimauuku on 26/3/22.

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