1930s

First Canadian Helicopter




Froebe, Canada first helicopter

The Froebe helicopter was the first Canadian-made rotary wing aircraft. Built by three brothers from Homewood, Manitoba, Douglas, Theodore and Nicholas, typical backyard mechanics who tinkered with machinery of all kinds including home built aircraft which were teach themselves to fly.

In 1937 the Froebe brothers began experimentation which ended up with a twin-rotor contra-rotating helicopter, powered by a used 4-cylinder, air-cooled, front-mounted de Havilland Gipsy engine. The machine was constructed on a custom made steel tubular frame using spare parts and equipment from automobiles, farm machinery and elsewhere. It has a rotor span of 8.53 m (28') and a length of 4.14 m (13' 7'').

Doug Froebe was the primary test pilot during a series of test flights performed between 1937 and 1939. They tried to sell the helicopter to the US Navy but failed to gain a contract.

The helicopter was stored in a granary and forgotten. A later generation of the Froebe family rediscovered it and donated it to the Royal Aviation Museum of Western Canada where is preserved along Doug's notebooks, logbook and letters.

Froebe, Homewood, Manitoba, Canada first helicopter






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