About "Stingray's List of Rotorcraft"

The History Behind the World's Largest Rotorcraft Archive and the Young Woman Who Created It

Me, Rei Lee Evans, year 2020 (age 26), about two months on HRT.

My concept art for a Bell-designed twin-rotor jet compound aircraft, 2012.

Me at age 13 (year 2007) in front of a CALSTAR Agusta A.109.

Fanart of a Chinese HAI Z-9W gunship, 2010.

Me at age 14 (year 2008) with a Sikorsky S-58 at the Pacific Coast Air Museum, Santa Rosa, California.

Concept art for a helicopter with rotorwash-deflection surfaces, designed by Tsheten Dorji in Bhutan, 2012.

Me at age 15 (year 2009) in the cockpit of a Sikorsky S-58, Wings Over Wine Country Air Show, Santa Rosa, California.
    The genesis of Stingray's List of Rotorcraft dates back to a time before it existed as a web site, before it was even thought of as an internet entity of any kind. It all began in the mind of a young, autistic child, with an enormous passion for rotary-wing aviation - a ten-year-old child who first came into this world by the name of Travis. I still remember those days with great nostalgia, since it was the beginning of such a monumental accomplishment in my life that I still look back on with sincere pride.

    The intense fever that was my interest in rotorcraft began with my childhood love for action movies and videogames; Battlefield 2: Modern Combat for the Playstation 2 and the original Rambo trilogy of films are credited to sparking my curiosity towards helicopters, diverting from the common interest in fixed-wing aviation and aerospace. The Chinese Z-9W of the former and the Puma that was modified to resemble an Mi-24 from the latter served as catalysts for my endless endeavor into serious research on the subject, my fascination with their design unable to be suppressed as the subject of many penciled fanarts. However, I credit a 1989 issue of International Combat Arms magazine as the first exposure to my most significant rotorcraft love, a helicopter that I would be the ultimate fan of to this day: the genuine Russian Mil Mi-24 "Hind" attack helicopter.

    Being that I have a form of high-functioning autism, the hobby into research manifested into a need to catalog my findings into an organized, physical system. Growing up in a very low-income situation - an only child to a single mother who is disabled, living in a single-wide trailer in a small country town called Middletown, Lake County, California - I did not not have the luxury of internet access beyond the painfully slow loading speeds of a WebTV device, nor did I have a printing method other than a fax machine. On the other hand, I was an aspiring artist and writer, and had plenty of paper and three-ring binders at my disposal. The solution was obvious: record my findings and sketch profile drawings of each rotary-wing subject onto this wealth of paper, and organize them by country of origin within these binders. The first subjects to enter this prototype archive: the Z-9 and the Hind, naturally.

    As the years went by, my cataloging became more serious, and so with the help of local library internet access and modern printing, my archive was beginning to build with printed photographs, as well as richer historical info and technical data. Having a select few aviation books available to me at the time was a nice bonus as well. The discovery of a site called aviastar.org was a 
tremendous aid into my collection of material and without it I would not have gotten as far as I have today.

    By the age of 12, I had harvested everything I could from mainstream sources, but I knew there was more out there. Obscurities and oddities that had faded from common knowledge over time and that I had yet to discover. It was by sheer luck that I would find the answer to my search in what lay beyond the familiar path in my research: a web forum that would become my favorite source for aerospace discussion to this day, the Secret Projects Forum. It was like a whole new world had opened up to me, so many unbuilt projects and military programs that I had never heard of, designs of all kinds both odd and intriguing. I had struck gold, and then some. I wanted to be a part of it, to inquire from this highly-knowledgeable and professional community, and share what I knew as well. I was at the age of 13 when I finally registered my membership, by the screen-name of "Stingray," a name I persistently used as my callsign when playing soldier in my back yard as a child.

    My time at SPF was met with utter disaster. Here I was, an autistic 13-year-old among aerospace engineers and published authors with vast historical knowledge well beyond mine, completely out of my league. I would constantly make a fool of myself, selfish with my search for material and spreading misinformation due to my lack of understanding at the time, annoying so many users with my initial use of all-caps writing and general naivety. It was no surprise that I would eventually become banned, forbidden to interact on a site that I grew to love and idolize so much. I was devastated.

    On top of this, I was faced with another growing concern. My mother was becoming increasingly irritated with the cluttered state of my bedroom. No, it was not a disastrous mess of clothes and garbage like that of a typical teenager, as I was raised in a household with high regards to personal organization and health. It was fast transforming into a storage area for my physical archive on rotorcraft research. Even I was starting to have difficulty maneuvering around the towers of papers and binders so meticulously stacked in organized chaos, my bed unseen from the angle of my doorway. I couldn't just discard my hard work. What was I to do with it all?

    Answering my distress in requiring a personal computer of more modern standards and reliable internet access beyond the timed limitation of the library machines, my aunt was generous enough to send me a PC tower with the latest OS of Windows Vista installed on it, complimented by DSL internet. It was then that I discovered Google Sites, a service which allowed the creation of websites for 
free. I immediately 
seized the opportunity to utilize this discovery in digitizing my archive for all the world to see, to create a definitive reference source for anything and everything rotary.

August 6th, 2008, at 1:23AM, Stingray's List of Rotorcraft was born.

    (more to be written)