Art Applewhite Rockets - Helix (13mm) {Kit}

Contributed by Chan Stevens

Construction Rating: starstarstarstarstar
Flight Rating: starstarstarstarstar_border
Overall Rating: starstarstarstarstar
Manufacturer: Art Applewhite Rockets
Art Applewhite 13mm Helix

After reading a number of very positive reviews of the various new Applewhite monocopters, I decided to pull the trigger and order a couple myself. I was pleasantly surprised, when in addition to the pair I ordered, Art slipped one of these 13mm Helix kits in as a free bonus.

I decided to quickly jump on it and am offering up this third opinion with another solid endorsement.

There are very few parts in this kit and all were acceptable quality:

  • BT-50 body tube
  • 1/4" launch lug
  • BT-5 motor tube
  • 1/4" dowel (balancing beam)
  • 1/16" basswood (wing)
Art Applewhite 13mm Helix

This kit builds very quickly and would probably be a skill level 2 kit, mainly because of the need to make sure everything is well aligned and balanced. I had mine done in about 15 minutes.

The other reviews accurately described the construction process, so in an effort to try to spend less time writing up the review than building the monocopter, I'll keep it brief. I was surprised that the body tube came with a pattern already glued to it, figuring that type of work is normally left to the modeler. Not only are the "holes" to cut out clearly marked, but there are even labels to make sure you know which end is up. Most importantly, so that you know which way to insert the motor.

Once the six holes are cut out, the lug, dowel and motor tube are tacked in. There is a nice end view in the instructions to make sure everything is positioned right, but frankly, the holes are uniquely sized and it would be darned near impossible to mess this up. The end view reminded me of that magic trick where the magician puts a bunch of swords through a box that the assistant is in.

The final step of construction is gluing in the wing. My basswood piece was a tiny bit oversized, so I had to sand it down a little. I rounded my leading and trailing edges and hit it with 400 grit sandpaper as well.

I chose not to paint mine, opting instead for coloring with magic markers. That keeps the weight down, and I was paranoid about messing up the balance and trim. It also kept the labeling visible, with that nice reminder of which end the motor should thrust from.

Construction Rating: 5 out of 5

Art Applewhite 13mm Helix

Flight and Recovery:
The other reviews mention that the kit includes plans for a launch stand. The instructions also stress NOT to launch off a long rod, as anything more than about an inch will just lead to rod whip and funky flights. I was lazy, and decided I'd try to outsmart Art a bit by using a 1/4" steel rod but using tape as a standoff to start it at the top of the rod. I went with the favored A3-4T.

I did manage to get a trace of rod whip, mainly because even starting at the top, it still put out enough force to move the rod a bit. It wasn't too bad though, and the flight was just fine.

Monocopters are even higher drag and lower altitude than most saucers, so this could definitely qualify for a school yard flier. Dick's warning that the ejection would be at or near the ground proved out with mine as well, as the ejection was late enough to just slow down the impact a bit.

Flight Rating: 4 out of 5

I'll admit I'm not much of a saucer fan, but monocopters are just too cool. This certainly won't fly high or drift far, but it's entertaining, easy to build, and thanks to Art's great design, it's very easy to make work well.

Overall Rating: 5 out of 5



J.A.L. (February 14, 2009)
Anyone wishing to follow the exploits of this rocket in photos or videos is invited to do so here.

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