Autogiro Company of America AC-35

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    Autogiro Company of America AC-35 at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center

    The two-seat AC-35 Autogiro was developed for a Department of Commerce competition to create an aerial "Model T." James G. Ray. vice president and chief pilot of the Autogiro Company of America, landed the AC-35 in a small downtown park in Washington. D.C. on October 2, 1936.
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This object is on display in the Vertical Flight at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, VA.

Vertical Flight

Developed for a Department of Commerce competition to create an aerial "Model T," the innovative two-seat AC-35 Autogiro could takeoff and land in 52 m (173 ft). After folding back the rotors, the pilot could switch engine power to the rear drive wheel, allowing street speeds of 40 kph (25 mph). The AC-35 initially suffered from stability problems, but further experimentation resulted in an aircraft that was safe and relatively easy to fly.

The AC-35 prototype performed well, but the $12,500 price tag was several times the average family income of 1936, and did not meet the goal of an affordable $700 aircraft for the suburbanite. Harold Pitcairn's Autogiro Company of America built only one AC-35 but continued work on an improved version. The beginning of World War II and the advent of the practical helicopter and spelled an end to Pitcairn's hopes for quantity production of the type.

Transferred from the Civil Aeronautics Administration