Air & Space 18A

Air & Space 18A

Infobox Aircraft
name=Air & Space 18A

manufacturer=Air and Space Manufacturing, Inc.
developer=Raymond E. Umbaugh
designer=Gilbert Devore
first flight=1964
status=Out of production
primary user=
more users=
number built=68
unit cost=$100,000
variants with their own articles=
The Air & Space 18A is a gyroplane manufactured in the central United States between 1965 and 2000.

The Air & Space 18A is one of the last three gyroplanes issued a Standard Airworthiness Certificate (September 1961) by the United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).


Umbaugh Aircraft Corporation

Raymond E. Umbaugh, a manufacturer of agricultural fertilizer, founded Umbaugh Aircraft Corporation in Ocala, Florida, in 1957 to develop a gyroplane based on experience he acquired while modifying single-seat Bensen Gyrocopters. Gilbert Devore commenced the design of Umbaugh's tandem two-seat jump-takeoff gyroplane in 1958, basing the rotor system on that of the Sznycer Omega BS-12 helicopter. The prototype Umbaugh U-17, built by Fairchild Engine and Airplane Corporation of Hagerstown, Maryland, flew in August 1959. Further test flights were conducted by chief pilot Ken Hayden and former Pitcairn Autogiro Company pilot Slim Soule. The prototype exhibited stability problems due to its single rudder and minimal T-tail horizontal stabilizer positioned on a boom behind the pusher propeller. The second prototype, named Umbaugh U-18, was fitted with a V-tail which also proved inadequate. The third empennage tested, also unsuccessfully, was a T-tail with two large vertical end plates on the horizontal tail plane. Sufficient stability was finally achieved by the use of two fixed vertical fins with a centrally mounted all-flying rudder, all mounted on a horizontal stabilizer. Umbaugh had by this time concluded an agreement for Fairchild Engine and Airplane Corporation to undertake final development and mass production of the U-18 as the “Flymobil.”

Fairchild built five development gyroplanes during 1960, one of which was used to gain FAA Approved Type Certificate 1H17 in September 1961. Umbaugh established a large network of dealers and distributors in the United States, upon whom he imposed minimum sales quotas to generate a large order backlog, but he experienced difficulty filling the orders due to inadequate manufacturing capability at Fairchild. Under pressure from the dealers, Umbaugh Aircraft Corporation ceased operations in 1962 and the agreement with Fairchild was terminated.

Air and Space Manufacturing Inc.

About one hundred Umbaugh dealers took over the assets of Umbaugh Aircraft Corporation and in 1964 established Air and Space Manufacturing, Inc., of Muncie, Indiana, to commence production. In early 1965, the FAA awarded the corporation a production certificate for the Air & Space Model 18A gyroplane, a model which had only minor differences from the Umbaugh U-18. By late 1965 sixty-eight gyroplanes had been completed and delivered, 14 more were near completion, some were later stolen when A&S Manufacturing was in receivership. Air and Space Manufacturing, Inc., was again faced with dealer pressure for aircraft and commenced efforts to raise $2.5 million for expansion. The fund raising resulted in accusations of stock irregularities by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, and though those concerned were eventually cleared of all charges, the associated costs and delays resulted in the collapse of the company in 1966.

The assets of Air and Space Manufacturing, went into storage, and were eventually (in the 1980s) acquired by one of the dealers, retired Pan Am pilot Don Farrington of Paducah, Kentucky.John Potter (former Vice President of Air & Space Manufacturing, Inc.,) went into partnership with Don Farrington until the year 2000 when Don died of a heart attack. Potter tried to re-establish the 18A program and transported an inventory of parts and some 18As to LaBelle, Florida, where he and partner Gene Ferrel established Heliplane Aircraft International Corp. Robert Kelsall of Euroa, Australia, was engaged to design a four-place version of the 18A termed 28A. Potter died of cancer in 2006 and no further 18A or 28A development has ensued.

Farrington Aircraft Corp.

Initially lacking ownership of the type certificate, Farrington Aircraft Corporation remanufactured existing aircraft and also developed Supplemental Type Certificate (STC) modifications including:
*a collective pitch trim system to allow increased cruise speed,
*fiberglass engine cowlings and exhaust system to suppress the significant propeller and exhaust noise, and
*a yaw warning delay circuit system. Farrington Aircraft Corporation also operated a gyroplane pilot training facility at Farrington Airpark, a privately owned, public-use airport in Paducah, Kentucky, and engaged in extensive promotional efforts.

Production by Air and Space America, Inc.

In 1991, Farrington obtained the Air & Space 18A Type Certificate, and undertook efforts to manufacture new gyroplanes as Air and Space America, Inc.. Work was also under way in 1996 to certify a Model 20A, fitted with a Lycoming IO-360 200-horsepower fuel-injected engine.

However, Farrington suffered a heart attack while flying an Air and Space 18A at an airshow in April 2000. Farrington Aircraft Corporation ceased operations shortly after, and the gyroplane assets were sold at auction.


The 18A is a metal monocoque construction with a tube frame supporting the transmission and engine. It has an enclosed cockpit with two tandem seats and a fixed tricycle landing gear. A 180hp (134kW) Lycoming O-360-A1D horizontally opposed carbureted engine is fitted behind the cockpit driving a two or three-bladed Hartzell pusher propeller. A three-bladed fully articulated rotor is mounted above and behind the cockpit. A hydraulically actuated clutch and transmission are used to spin the rotor prior to take-off, and then released to allow autorotation in flight.

pecifications (18A)

aircraft specifications
plane or copter?= copter
jet or prop?= prop
ref=All the World's Rotorcraft [cite web
title=Air & Space 18A "Flymobil"
crew= one, pilot
capacity=one passenger
length main= 19 ft 8 in
length alt= 6.04 m
span main= 35 ft 0 in
span alt= 10.67 m
height main= 9 ft 3 in
height alt= 2.82 m
area main=
area alt=
airfoil=NACA 0012
empty weight main=
empty weight alt=
loaded weight main=
loaded weight alt=
useful load main=
useful load alt=
max takeoff weight main= 1,800 lb
max takeoff weight alt= 816 kg
more general=
* Fuel capacity: 27.2 US gallons of 100 low lead aviation fuel
engine (prop)=Lycoming O-360-A1D
type of prop=4-cylinder horizontally-opposed carbureted piston engine
number of props=1
power main= 180 hp
power alt= 135 kW
power original=
max speed main= 95 knots
max speed alt= 109 mph, 177 km/h
cruise speed main=
cruise speed alt=
never exceed speed main=
never exceed speed alt=
stall speed main=
stall speed alt=
range main= 261 nm
range alt= 298 mi, 483 km
ceiling main= 12,000 ft
ceiling alt= 3,658 m
climb rate main=
climb rate alt=
loading main=
loading alt=
power/mass main=
power/mass alt=
more performance=


* [ Website of Heliplane Aircraft International Corp.]
* [ Website about the Air & Space 18A gyroplane.]
* [$FILE/1h17.PDF FAA Type Certificate 1H17]

ee also

similar aircraft=
see also=

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