The Umbaugh Model 18

1960: The first FAA certificated gyroplane. It is true that the Pitcairn aircraft recieved a production certificate but that was done under the CAA. The Umbaugh Company of the United States in collaberation with the Fairchild Airplane Company began development of this two-place gyroplane in 1960. Umbaugh & Fairchild did not get very far into their venture as very few were built following the first two protytpes. The two companies spent too much on research and development and the basic manufacturing of the design was costly. A lot of manhours went into producing the distinctive triple tail and attachment booms.

The gyro featured jump takeoff capability and was powered by a Lycoming o360 of 180hp and two-position propeller. A unique triple tail design attached by twin booms to the fuselage quickly identify this gyroplane. A rotor diameter of 35ft and fuselage length of 21ft 4 in and a height of 10ft puts this gyro above a light category gyroplane(as far as we homebuilders are concerned). She can fly at 125 mph with a fully enclosed aluminum cabin and structure, with a service ceiling of 15,000ft and range of 350 miles.

The build rights were eventually sold to Air and Space of which a few models were produced but not of significant numbers. The model has not been in production since the 70's.

The Model 18 is historically significant on the basis that conceptually a FAA Certificated gyroplane appears to be economically unfeasible. The additional costs versus demand and other viable options has placed FAA certification of gyroplanes in a precarious position.With the new LSA Category of gyroplanes it can be expected that this is as close to a certificated gyroplane as you will see.


"The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Helicopters", Giorgio Apostolo, copyright 1984, Bonanza Books, ISBN: 0-517-439352.