July 2014

2014 JulyCessna CH-1 Skyhook / YH-41 Seneca

The Cessna CH-1 was the only helicopter built by the Cessna Aircraft Company. The CH-1 had a single, two-bladed main rotor, and a front-mounted reciprocating engine. The aircraft incorporated a unique L-section hinges to attach the main rotor blades to the hub in place of more conventional pitch change bearings. Its semi-monocoque airframe resembled typical fixed-wing aircraft as built by Cessna.

The prototype CH-1 made its first flight in 1954. The prototype CH-1 was originally equipped with a supercharged Continental FSO-470 six-cylinder engine, producing 260 hp at 3,200 rpm. Stability problems at higher gross weights required addition of a free-floating horizontal stabilizer. Reworking the stabilizer permitted the addition of a second row of seating, and the four-place ship, designated the CH-1A was certificated on 28 February 1956. In spring 1956, the Army awarded Cessna with a contract for 10 test aircraft, designated as the YH-41 Seneca.

On 15 September 1955 the CH-1A was the first helicopter to land on Pikes Peak, at an altitude of 14,110 feet. A CH-1B, modified with an FSO-526-2X engine, set an official FAI world altitude record for helicopters of 29,777 feet on December 28, 1957. The CH-1C was the first helicopter to receive IFR certification by the FAA. Production ended in December 1962. While the CH-1 achieved several helicopter "firsts" and set a world record, it never became a commercial or military success. Approximately 50 machines were built before Cessna ended their venture into helicopters.

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