Another brick in the wall, Part 3

Jean Saint-Germain at the controls of the Hélipack at the 1978 edition of the EAA Annual Convention and Fly-In, Oshkosh, Wisconsin. Chris Sorenson, “Canadians at Oshkosh.” Canadian Aviation, October 1978, 27.

Hello again, patient reader. Did you know that Jean Saint-Germain is one of the few Canadians who developed his own helicopter? In the early 1970s, this Québec inventor made a few hops at the controls of an unregistered single-seat prototype. This flight was therefore thoroughly illegal. Worse still, Saint-Germain did not have a helicopter pilot license at the time. Inspectors from the Department of Transport ordered him to end his test flights. They added that it was illegal to use a homebuilt helicopter in Canada. Short of cash, Saint-Germain had to sell his prototype.

During the second half of the 1970s, Saint-Germain designed the Hélipack, an ultralight single engine and single seat helicopter he wanted to sell in flying order or as a kit. He presented his prototype that had yet to fly to the pilots and homebuilders who attended the 1978 edition of the EAA Annual Convention and Fly-In, at Oshkosh, Wisconsin. You may remember, or not, that the Raz-Mut ultralight had been presented to this crowd of aviation enthusiasts in 1977. Back in Québec, Saint-Germain, who still did not have a helicopter pilot license, made a few hops at the controls of his non-registered prototype. An inspector from Transport Canada, the renamed Department of Transport, since around 1972, ordered him to end his test flights. Saint-Germain sold his prototype and two related patents to an unidentified Japanese company around 1978-79. A twin engine, two seat version of the Hélipack seemingly remained incomplete.

Intrigued by the Hélipack, an equally unidentified British company contacted Saint-Germain to see if he could develop a helicopter that a pilot could wear on his back – an idea that had fascinated some engineers since the 1940s. The author of these lines cannot say whether or not the inventor completed a prototype of this helicopter fitted with miniature jet engines mounted at the end of the two rotor blades. This being said, Saint-Germain built at least three different types of engines.

By the way, Transport Canada granted the first Canadian registration for a homebuilt helicopter in June 1985, to a two seat machine of American design, a Rotorway Exec made by Russell E.T. « Russ » Gerrish of Calgary, Alberta.

I hope you liked this article. If so, visit this website from time to time. You will find within it other stories about the wonderful world of aviation and space – or other, non aerospace topics that tickle my funny bone. You have been warned.

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Rénald Fortier