MEG-1X and MEG-2X
In the early 1950′s the U.S. Air Force opened a competition to build a portable helicopter for use by troops in the field. Eugene M. Gluhareff had recently opened his own experimental helicopter company, E. Gluhareff Helicopters, Inc. in Manhattan Beach, California and entered the race with his design of the MEG-1X single bladed, portable helicopter.
The MEG-1X, which Eugene termed the world’s smallest helicopter, would allow a soldier to essentially wear it like he would a backpack. The aircraft would enable him to fly over rivers and other geographical obstacles. Powered by a Gluhareff Pressure Jet Engine, it was an unconventional yet simple design with other advantages such as the low cost of construction, minimal maintenance and low operating costs. The MEG-1X was designed to use propane, a clean and affordable fuel.
The backpack helicopter weighed only 68 lbs (empty) with a G8-2-15 Gluhareff Pressure Jet Engine (weighing only 5 lbs.) mounted at the “blade-tip”. Eugene calculated the range at 25 miles with a flight time of about half an hour reaching up to 18,000 feet altitude, depending on the jet engine size. The rotor consisted of one 10′ blade connected to a swash plate of a conventional type, allowing collective pitch motions to superimpose azimuth control by means of a lever held in the pilot’s right hand. The MEG-1X did not flip over because its rotor was on a hinge allowing the blade to flap. Consequently, a hinge transmitted no movement.
The pitch control, consisting of a lever attachment to the body tubes, is held in the pilot’s left hand. The lever served three purposes: 1) the up and down movement controlled the blade’s collective pitch, 2) turning the motorcycle-type handle the pilot controlled and throttled the jet engine and 3) the push-button on the end of the handle served as an ignition starter for the engine. The need for a heavy and complex transmission or anti-torque tail rotor were eliminated.
The body consisted of a tubular structure with a back plate and a parachute harness with two fuel tanks (twelve gallon capacity) mounted to a bracket on the body tube. In view of the ease of handling the helicopter when landing on the feet, no landing gear of any kind was contemplated.
While Eugene didn’t win the competition, the Air Force was very impressed with his helicopter and asked him to build them another one, only with two rotor blades. Eugene built the MEG-2X Portable One-Man Helicopter in answer, at the time, to the many critics and disbelievers of the single-bladed helicopter. Contrary to the many aeronautical engineers’ opinions and various professional conclusions, the company believed that the single-bladed helicopter demonstrated superior stability and ease of flight than that of the other two-bladed machine.
Eugene went on to continue his research and development of the Portable One-Man Helicopters with tethered flight testing to familiarize himself with auto-rotation landings before free-flight could be attempted. Both the MEG-1X and MEG-2X were completely airborne on cable flight-tests at a maximum altitude of 20 feet. Eugene felt that the single-bladed helicopter was so safe and simple to operate that he allowed his oldest son, who was 15 at the time, to fly it on the cable. E. Gluhareff Helicopters Inc. logged over 3,000 feet of color film to record the construction, progress and testing of the helicopters which Gluhareff Helicopters LLC has archived for preservation and posterity.
Eugene’s next project was the MEG-3X, Flying Platform which will be discussed with more detail in the very near future.
As a tribute to Eugene M. Gluhareff and his work on the MEG-1X and MEG-2X Portable One-Man Helicopters, Gluhareff Helicopters has created a CD with actual test flight footage.
For more information on Eugene M. Gluhareff and the G8-2 Pressure Jet Engine we invite you to visit www.tipjet.com