Saturday 19 November 2022

Homebuilt and Sport Helicopters of New Zealand - American Sportscopters

American Sportscopter Inc was formed in 1990 with the aim of bringing a light weight and low cost single seat helicopter to the market.  In 1993 a quick build kit was introduced for the original Sportscopter 254 which featured a 55 HP engine.  This was followed by the Sportscopter 331 with 65 HP and then the 2 seat Sportscopter 496 with 95 and then 115 HP.

The specifications for the Sportcopter 496 are:  length 6.02 metres (19 feet 9 inches), rotor diameter 7.01 metres (23 feet) empty weight 225 Kg (496 pounds), MAUW 492 Kg (1,085 pounds) and the 115 HP Hirth F 30 engine gives a cruise speed of 105 km/hr (57 knots).

We have had only one Sportscopter 496 in New Zealand and I do not think we will not see any more:

ZK-HIY3 (c/n 003) was registered to Ultralight American Sportscopter Inc (NZ) Ltd of Auckland on 16/2/98.  I have not been able to find a photo of it but it must have looked somewhat like the machine in the above photo which was taken by David Eyre at an Avalon Airshow in Australia.  During 1999 it was modified as the prototype for the two seat 600 model with a 120 HP Hirth engine, and on 1/9/03 ownership changed to Bounty Corporation Ltd of of Bombay.  It was re-designated as a Sportscopter 600 on 24/2/04 but it was cancelled as withdrawn on 20/12/07.

An American Sportscopter 600 was registered ZK-HJP2 (c/n 2039) to Ultra Helicoptes Inc (NZ) Ltd of Auckland on 7/7/99.  It was cancelled from the register as exported on 9/10/00 but somehow it made its way to Dick Sybrandy of Manaia in Taranaki who has provided the above photo of it at his property.

Three more Sportscopter 600s were registered to Ultra Helicopters Inc (NZ) Ltd being ZK-HJI3 (c/n 2008) on 6/7/99, ZK-HJU2 (c/n 2040) on 7/7/99 and ZK-HJX3 (c/n 2041).  All three helicopters were cancelled as exported on 9/10/00 when Ultra Helicopters Inc (NZ) ltd was placed in receivership..  I haven't been able to find any photos of them and I suspect that they may never have flown here as they were only on the register for a short time.  Can anyone confirm?

The man behind Ultra Helicopters Inc (NZ) Ltd was Trevor Rogers who was an ex National MP had an "interesting" connection with helicopters including working on an unmanned combat helicopter called the Snark.  You can read an article that gives more background to this saga here:

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