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The designer of the single-engined multirole Bristol 171 Sycamore helicopter was Austrian-born Raoul Hafner. Under his leadership, British manufacturer the Bristol Aeroplane Company began production of the five-seat helicopter after World War II. After a three-year design and development period, the prototype made its maiden flight in July 1947.

One stand-out feature of the Sycamore is that its main rotor blades were designed so they could be folded towards the rear boom, allowing the helicopter to be housed in hangers or on naval vessels where space was at a premium. The Sycamore also had an impressive top speed of around 200 km/h and a range of 430 km. By comparison, the first German serial production helicopter, the Flettner Fl 282, which made its maiden flight in 1941, had a top speed of 150 km/h and a range of 170 km. The US Army's first helicopter, the Sikorsky R-4, production of which commenced in 1942, could manage 120 km/h.

Because the technology was so advanced, the Sycamore also achieved commercial success. By 1959 a total of almost 180 Sycamores had been built and delivered to the air and naval forces of Great Britain, Germany, Belgium and Australia.

The world's last airworthy Sycamore will make its airshow debut at AIRPOWER16. The 1957 model was meticulously restored over several years by the Flying Bulls and will be flown as part of the Flying Display of Austria's airshow by none other than the Flying Bulls' chief helicopter pilot Siegfried "Blacky" Schwarz, who is, in fact, currently the only pilot in the world qualified and permitted to fly this type of helicopter. You can also read more about the unique Sycamore and its history in the new AIRPOWER16 magazine.



  • © Red Bull Content Pool / Helge Kirchberger

  • © Red Bull Content Pool / Helge Kirchberger

© The Flying Bulls

Facts & Figures

Manufacturer Bristol Aircraft Ltd. / England
Serial number 13475
Built 1957
Registration number OE-XSY
Length (incl. main rotor) 14.1 m (rotor folded)
Main rotor diameter 14.8 m
Height 3.7 m
Max. takeoff weight 2,540 kg
Range 430 km
Cruising speed 130 km/h
Max. speed 212 km/h
Powerplant Alvis Leonides MK 17302 9-cylinder radial engine
Power 550 hp
Display Flying