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Bensen B-8M Gyrocopter Spirit of Kitty Hawk

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This object is on display in the Boeing Aviation Hangar at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center.


The B-8M, designed by Igor Bensen, became one of the most popular homebuilt aircraft of the twentieth century. This powered Gyrocopter variant of the B-8 Gyroglider first flew in 1957. Airflow created by the forward motion of the Gyrocopter causes the unpowered blades to autorotate and generate lift. Unlike a helicopter, the Gyrocopter cannot hover or take off vertically, but it can make nearly vertical descents. Construction costs typically ran between $1,000 and $3,000.

The "Spirit of Kittyhawk" was the prototype for the B-8M and earned its name by matching the speed, duration and distance of the Wright Brothers' first powered flights for a 60th anniversary celebration at Kittyhawk, North Carolina. In 1967 and 1968, Bensen set 12 gyroplane records for speed, distance, and altitude in the "Spirit of Kittyhawk." Bensen's airshow performances in this aircraft played an important role in establishing gyroplanes as a new category of sport aircraft.

Gift of Bensen Aircraft Corp.

Manufacturer: Bensen Aircraft Corp.

Date: 1957

Country of Origin: United States of America

Inventory number: A19690355000

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