|National origin||United States|
|Manufacturer||Pitcairn-Cierva Autogiro Company|
|Designer||Harold F. Pitcairn|
The Pitcairn PCA-2 was an autogyro developed in the United States in the early 1930s, Harold F. Pitcairn's first autogyro design to sell in quantity. It had a conventional design for its day – an airplane-like fuselage with two open cockpits in tandem, and an engine mounted tractor-fashion in the nose. The lift by the four-blade main rotor was augmented by stubby, low-set monoplane wings that also carried the control surfaces. The wingtips featured considerable dihedral to act as winglets for added stability.
The PCA-2 was the first rotary-wing aircraft to achieve type certification in the United States and was used in a number of high-profile activities including a landing on the White House lawn and the first flight across the United States in a rotorcraft. This latter feat was attempted by Amelia Earhart, flying for the Beech-Nut food company, but was actually accomplished by John M. Miller who completed his flight nine days before Earhart on 28 May 1931, in his PCA-2 named Missing Link. Learning of Miller's achievement upon her arrival in California, Earhart set out to turn her flight into a round-trip record by flying east again, but abandoned the attempt after three crashes. Earhart set an altitude record in a PCA-2 on 8 April 1931 with a height of 18,415 ft (5,615 m). This record was broken in another PCA-2 by Lewis Yancey who flew to 21,500 ft (6,600 m) on 25 September 1932.
In 1931, the Detroit News made history when they bought a PCA-2 for use as a news aircraft due to its ability to fly well at low altitude, land and take off from restricted spaces, and semi-hover for better camera shots. This PCA-2 was the ancestor of today's news helicopters. In May 1933, Scripps donated the autogyro to the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan.
The Champion spark plug company operated a PCA-2 as a promotional machine in 1931 and 32 as Miss Champion. It was flown over 6,500 miles in the 1931 Ford National Reliability Air Tour. This machine was restored to flying condition in 1982 by Steve Pitcairn, Harold's son. In 2005, he donated it to the EAA AirVenture Museum. Other PCA-2s are preserved at The Henry Ford and the Canada Aviation Museum.
- PCA-2 - major production version
- PCA-3 - version with Pratt & Whitney Wasp Junior engine and 48-ft (14.63-m) rotor (1 built)
- PA-21 - version with Wright R-975-E2 engine
- OP-1 - Reconnaissance autogyro (1931)
- OP-2 - Reconnaissance autogyro without wings.
Data from "Pitcairn PCA-2 Autogiro Specifications"
- Crew: One pilot
- Capacity: 2 passengers
- Length: 23 ft 1 in (7.04 m)
- Wingspan: 30 ft 0 in (9.14 m)
- Main rotor diameter: 45 ft 0 in (13.72 m)
- Main rotor area: 1,590 ft2 (147 m2)
- Empty weight: 2,233 lb (1,015 kg)
- Gross weight: 3,000 lb (1,363 kg)
- Powerplant: 1 × Wright R-975-J6-9, 330 hp (250 kW)
- Maximum speed: 120 mph (190 km/h)
- Range: 290 miles (466,7 km)
- Service ceiling: 15,000 ft (4,575 m)
- Maximum glide ratio: 4.8
- Taylor 1989, p.735
- The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Aircraft, p.2739
- "Pitcairn, A G A, Pitcairn-Cierva, Pitcairn-Larsen"
- "Pitcairn PCA-2 Autogiro 'Miss Champion' – NC11609"
- Charnov 2003b, p.3
- Charnov 2003a
- Charnov 2003b, p.6
- "Hover Plane and Camera Join News Staff", October 1931, Popular Mechanics
- Ford Richardson Bryan, Sarah Evans. Henry's attic: some fascinating gifts to Henry Ford and his museum.
- "The Planes: 1931 Pitcairn Autogiro"
- "Pitcairn-Cierva PCA-2"
- Duda, Holger; Insa Pruter (2012). "FLIGHT PERFORMANCE OF LIGHTWEIGHT GYROPLANES". German Aerospace Center. p. 5. Retrieved 3 December 2012.
- Charnov, Bruce H. (2003a). "Amelia Earhart, John M. Miller and the First Transcontinental Autogiro Flight in 1931". The Aviation History On-Line Museum. Retrieved 2009-01-17.
- Charnov, Bruce H. (2003b). From Autogiro to Gyroplane: The Amazing Survival of an Aviation Technology. Westport, Connecticut: Praeger Publishers.
- "Pitcairn-Cierva PCA-2". Canada Aviation Museum website. Retrieved 2009-01-17.
- "Pitcairn, A G A, Pitcairn-Cierva, Pitcairn-Larsen". Aerofiles. Retrieved 2009-01-15.
- "Pitcairn PCA-2 Autogiro 'Miss Champion' – NC11609". AirVenture Museum website. Retrieved 2009-01-17.
- "Pitcairn PCA-2 Autogiro Specifications". AirVenture Museum website. Retrieved 2009-01-17.
- The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Aircraft. London: Aerospace Publishing.
- "The Planes: 1931 Pitcairn Autogiro". The Henry Ford website. Retrieved 2009-01-17.
- Taylor, Michael J. H. (1989). Jane's Encyclopedia of Aviation. London: Studio Editions.
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