Helicop-Air L.50 "Girhel"


One of the best-known commercial helicopter operators in France, Helicop-Air, has produced the prototype of a two-seat light autogyro-type aircraft known as the Girhel. This was exhibited for the first time at the 1959 Paris Salon de l’Aeronautique and is described in detail below.


The Girhel is a side-by-side two-seat light aircraft to which an autogyro rotor has been fitted to permit safe flight at very slow speeds and the ability to take off and land in restricted areas. It was designed with the assistance of Ing. Georges Lepere.

For take-off the rotor can be set turning by engaging a clutch in a drive-shaft from the engine. In flight the rotor autorotates and the engine drives a tractor airscrew in the conventional manner. Most of the "lift" is contributed by the fixed wings in cruising flight, so that the rotor is heavily loaded only during take-off and landing.

Two versions of the Girhel are offered:

Girhel L.50. With 90hp Continental C90 engine.

Girhel L.51. With 150hp Lycoming O-320 engine.

The following details apply in general to both models.

TYPE: Two-seat light autogyro.

WINGS: Mid-wing cantilever monoplane. Single metal spar. Wood covering. Large ailerons. End-plates at tips.

ROTOR: Three-blade rotor of wood construction. Variable pitch. Starting by means of a clutch and drive-shaft from engine.

FUSELAGE: All-metal structure.

TAIL UNIT: Cantilever monoplane type, with conventional elevators, two fins and central rudder. All-wood structure.

LANDING GEAR: Non-retractable tricycle type. Nose-wheel is steerable. Brakes on main wheels.

POWER PLANT (L50): One 90hp Continental C90 four-cylinder horizontally-opposed air-cooled engine, driving Ratier two-blade fixed-pitch airscrew.

POWER PLANT (L51): One 150hp Lycoming O-320 four-cylinder horizontally-opposed air-cooled engine, driving a variable-pitch airscrew.

ACCOMMODATION: Two seats side-by-side in enclosed cabin. Dual controls optional. Space for baggage aft of seats. Provision for carrying a litter or agricultural spray-gear.

Jane's All the World's Aircraft, 1959-60

Helicop-Air L.50

The Helicop-Air L.50 "Girhel" was a side-by-side two-seat gyrocopter built in 1959. It had a substantial wing and three-fin tail unit. The cabin was enclosed by a fully transparent canopy, with the rotor pylon mounted centrally, and the Girhel was powered by a 65kW Continental C.90 engine mounted in the nose. It is not clear whether the prototype actually flew.

R.Simpson "Airlife's Helicopter and Rotorcraft", 1998

Technical data for Helicop-Air Girhel L51

Rotor diameter: 10.0m, span: 6.0m, length: 6.10m, height: 2.70m, weight empty: 416kg, weight loaded: 750kg, max speed (est.): 215km/h, cruising speed (est.): 180km/h, min flying speed (est.): 22km/h, range with pilot and 234kg payload (est.): 100km, range with two persons and baggage (est.): 1000km