1954 an article and photos appeared in LIFE magazine, June 14 issue,
which had a profound effect on my aviation career. The article, "BRAVE
NEW AIRCRAFT", described two aircraft, the Bensen Gyro-glider and Nelson Humming Bird motorglider with a retractable engine.
At the time I had already taken a few flying lessons in a Scheibe Bergfalke glider and I immediately realised that a motorglider was the way of future gliding and soaring. However, I also realised the Hummingbird was for millionaires but the Bensen approach looked like such a simple machine that even a schoolboy could build it. I later saw a Bensen advertisement in Popular Mechanics magazine and this started my correspondence with Bensen.
I later learned that these machines are actually autogyros, which were invented back in the early twenties by a Spaniard, Senor Juan De La Cierva. This also led me to specialize in rotary wing aircraft in my studies at the Helsinki University of Technology.
| The Dream 1957: This was my "dream concept" for learning purposes to calculate rotor autorotation performance, stability and stress analysis.
| The reality, JT-1 1958:
While working at Karhumaki Aircraft Factory in the summer 1958 I built
my first gyroglider. The rotor head and blades were of the Bensen
design but the fuselage was of welded steel tubing with shock absorbers
in the landing gear . Starting to learn to fly was a tremendous
feeling....but , yes you guessed it, I crashed. I had no kind of
pilot's license at the time. After this experience I obtained one. The
observer in the car is the famous Finnish aviation pioneer, Niilo
Visiting Bensen 1959. To get a diploma or MS degree at the University of Technology, one had to practice in industry. So I spent the summer of 1959 at Bensen Aircraft Co in Raleigh, NC, to learn more about Igor's gyrocopters. We also flew together. At Bensen I worked on a project to fit a Triumph motorcycle engine into a Bensen B-8M gyrocopter. However, it was of too low power (40 hp) and vibrated a lot, and the project was abandoned. Anyway, a great and interesting summer.