By Evan Ackerman
Rather than being powered by a conventional engine, someone decided that it would be a good idea to install itty bitty rocket engines on the tips of the blades of this helicopter to power it. And the really scary part is that it works. Very well, in fact. The hydrogen peroxide rockets (the same things that power most jetpacks) produce no pollution and are supposed to be significantly more stable than their conventional counterparts due to the lack of, um, an engine. In fact, there’s really nothing to the helicopter at all apart from a seat and some big fuel tanks. Called the Dragonfly, it can stay aloft for 50 minutes and has a maximum speed of 40 mph. The Dragonfly has completed a successful series of flight tests and obtained its airworthiness certificate last November, so it’s currently on track to be for sale sometime this year.
This is actually not the craziest thing you can do with a rocket propelled airfoil. The craziest thing is to use model rocket engines, one blade, and then just forget the rest of the helicopter. Check that out along with an article on monocopter UAVs over on BotJunkie.