BO105 CB

The artist

There are not many people who after active service wth the police embark on a career as an artist – and then make success of it. This is what Bo105 CB has done.

Her canvas is the sky on which she traces out audacious figures: whenever a Bo105 performs a demonstration of aerobatic flying at an air show then there are rows of people left with their mouths wide open. Looping the loops, horizontal rolls and spins are spectacular when performed by fixed wing aircraft; performed by a helicopter they act as if gravity has simply taken a coffee break. In the case of the four machines in service with the Flying Bulls, we are talking about standard models of the multipurpose helicopter developed by MBB, – apart from a reduction in weight caused by the removal of superfluous fittings. Both the machines based in Salzburg and dating from 1974, carried out work for the German police.

(Two other ones are based in the USA.) The Bo105 owes its flying qualities to its design as an antitank helicopter. In order to be able to dodge surface to air missiles it was imbued with a level of maneuverability which has not been exceeded even today. A unique form of construction makes this possible: a hingeless rotor system that dispenses with the need for the usual flapping and drag hinges with stops and dampers. For this new method of construction the engineers had to resort to materials which were new at the time: the rotor head was made from a piece of titanium and the rotor blades were from glass fiber reinforced plastic. Aerobatic displays were only used by the manufacturers at air shows as a means of convincing potential buyers of the stability of the new system.

The Flying Bulls team had also had a lot of work to do in persuading the authorities to allow the machines to be used for acrobatic displays because until that time no permit for aerobatic flying had ever been issued for a helicopter. Finally in 2005 both the helicopters and the pilots passed an examination based on the exam for fixed wing aircraft. This is why the only four helicopters in the world licensed for aerobatic flight are owned by the Flying Bulls. Anyone who fancies purchasing a Bo105 now, and who has already seen loop the loops being flown, should first be aware of the fact that approval for aerobatic flying is subject to the most stringent safety requirements.

These include extreme restrictions on the operating hours which are reduced by a factor of 100. Component parts, which in civil aviation use have to be changed after 1000 hours, are due for replacement after just ten hours. Whoever goes ahead regardless should make sure that they have a sick bag on board. During an aerobatic helicopter flight there is actually a maximum of force of from 3.1 to -0.5g. The acrobatic figures are, however, performed in much smaller radii. Those not used to it will quickly find their faces have become green in color. Just like all performance art, the work of Bo105 is ephemeral. There is an increasingly shrinking market in spare parts for these helicopters, which are no longer manufactured.

The time will therefore come when exhibitions will have to cease. Treat yourself to this piece of artistic entertainment when you have the chance – a helicopter flying upside down is a spectacle you will never forget.

Sigi ‘Blacky’ Schwarz’s Logbook

Sigi ‘Blacky’ Schwarz’s Logbook

Helicopters and aerobatics go together like a papal visit to Christopher Street Day, or so I thought until about two years ago. Then one of my old pupils from flying school told me that he had flown a loop the loop when undergoing training on a Bo105. Now anglers and pilots have one thing in common – due to their close contact with the elements one group lapses into what can be termed ‘fishermen`s tales’ now and again. Pilots are also not completely immune from occasionally drifting into ‘pilots' tales ’.

I therefore continued to probe vigorously, but my former pupil insisted upon his version of events: his flying instructor, a former officer in the German Air Force, actually had carried this maneuver out with him. I had by now become really curious. After some research, we – that is Hannes Arch, Chuck Aaron and I – invited this ex-officer, Rainer Wilke to Los Angeles. We were not completely open-minded, I must admit, because we had prepared a really long checklist of questions to ask. We were, however, to be surprised. The man who sat opposite us was understatement personified. He explained maneuvers to us, which until then we had believed to be impossible.

He did this objectively. Above all, it sounded like a matter of course to him and was illuminated with so much knowledge that we could scarcely have expected that we would soon be able to go flying with him, but he kept to his word. We were all experienced helicopter pilots with many thousands of flying hours and could simply not believe what was possible with a helicopter. Wilke became trainer to both Chuck and myself. It was not just because of the extreme flying characteristics displayed by the Bo105 that we began first with theory lessons; this was in parallel with our training for the aerobatics licenses for airplanes. Until we eventually passed the examination we had to undertake countless training flights, each lasting no longer than 10 to 15 minutes. This was in order to accustom our bodies and our senses to the forces involved. Since that time our teacher has gone on to become a member of staff with the Flying Bulls.

If someone you know starts to tell you stories about helicopters that can fly upside down or rotate around their longitudinal axes – do not immediately consider them to be mad. Instead, ask them whether an ex-officer is involved, or whether there was a Red Bull to be seen anywhere on the helicopter. It will spare you from having a triumphant smirk directed at you later on.

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