3 unique aircraft found at the American Helicopter Museum

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dhoffman@21st-centurymedia.com, @ diane5hoffman on Twitter

If you’ve never been to the American Helicopter Museum, now is the time to go.

The museum, located at 1220 American Blvd., West Chester, has three unique helicopters any enthusiast won’t want to miss.


(Photo by American Helicopter Museum)

Bell AH-1F Cobra

This 2-man copter first arrived in Vietnam on Aug. 31, 1967, scoring its first combat victory just 4 days later. Since that time, the AH-1 remained the backbone of the United States Army‘s attack helicopter fleet until it was replaced by the AH-64 Apache in Army service in 1975. Upgraded versions continue to fly with the militaries of several other nations.

According the museum, development of the Cobra began in the 1960s when the US Army identified the need for an “Air Cavalry” Brigade that would be equipped with armed helicopters.

The Model 209 carried a crew of two in a tandem arrangement with the gunner in front of the pilot.

Since replaced by the Apache, Cobras remain in active service with the National Guard and foreign military units. The twin turbine AH-1W remains in active duty with the U.S. Marines.


Powerplant Lycoming T-53L-703

Armament 8 TOW Missiles

20mm cannon

20mm Gatling gun in nose turret

Max DNE Speed 190 kts.

Range 300 NM

Service Ceiling 12,400 ft.

Crew 2

Rotor Diameter: 44 ft.

Fuselage Length: 44 ft. 7 in.

Height:  13 ft. 6 in.

Empty Weight: 6,598 lbs.

Gross Weight: 10,000 lbs.


Bensen Gyro-Copter B-8M


(Photo by American Helicopter Museum)

The Bensen Gyro-Copter B-8M made its first flight on July 8, 1957. The Bensen B-8 is a small, single-seat autogyro. Its design was a refinement of the Bensen B-7 and was originally built as an unpowered rotor-kite. The upgraded powered design proved to be extremely popular and long-lasting, with thousands of sets of plans sold over the next thirty years.


Rotor Diameter: 20 ft.

Fuselage Length: 11 ft. 4 in.

Maximum Speed: 85 mph

Cruise Speed: 60 mph

Height: 6 ft. 3 in.

Empty Weight: 247 lbs.

Gross Weight: 500 lbs.

Engine: 72 hp McCulloch 4318E


Princeton GEM X-2 Air Scooter


(Photo by American Helicopter Museum)

The Princeton GEM X-2 Air Scooter is an experimental Ground Effect Machine (GEM) from the 1950’s. During the late 1950s, the Aeronautical Engineering Department of the James Forrestal Research Center at Princeton University produced several GEMs, two of which were supported by the U.S. Army’s Transportation Research Command. The initial “flying” vehicle was the X‑2 Air. A nose fan supplied air to the air cushion contained within the peripheral fabric curtain around the 8 foot diameter platform. These are very successful and are often used as ferries to carry cars and passengers across the English Channel.


James Forrestal Research Center, Princeton University

Acquisition Source: U.S. Army Transportation Museum Loan

Fan Diameter: 2 ft

Peripheral: 8 ft

Cruise Speed: 10 mph

Height: 5 ft

Empty Weight: 120 lbs.

Gross Weight: 300 lbs.

Engine: 5 hp Power Products


The American Helicopter Museum is located at 1220 American Blvd., West Chester. Call 610-436-9600 or email info@americanhelicopter.museum for more information.

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