Flying cars are a futuristic promise that never materialized. Winnebago leapfrogged that dream in the late 1970s with Helihome, a flying motorhome commissioned from Orlando Helicopter Airways. The Florida company bought excess Sikorsky helicopters from the US military and has pioneered the idea of a flying RV that Winnebago has noticed.
Winnebago will design the interior and select building materials, with Orlando Helicopter Airways producing the final product. The Sikorsky S-55 and S-58 helicopters have a unique design that places the cockpit above, creating a large cabin space below designed to transport soldiers. However, the space is large enough to fit an RV living space.
An unconventional camper package hides a very conventional camping experience. Winnebago was able to design a flying camper that contained everything needed for a weekend in the wilderness. Winnebago Helihome features seating and a table that converts into a bed for four, air conditioning, color TV and water heater.
Winnebago also installed a kitchenette with a two-burner electric stove and a 4-cubic-foot refrigerator. Winnebago even offers campers with chemical toilets and showers. Not much is missing from the camper, with enough storage for owners to carry a rifle, raft, extra seating and even a tent.
Winnebago primarily used Helihome as a promotional tool, with Orland Helicopter Airways actually selling the model after Winnebago moved. The smaller S-55 retails for $135,000, while the larger S58 retails for $220,000. Winnebago rates their Helihome at around $300,000, but neither company sells much. However, at least one person used the Helihome as designed, allegedly visiting his favorite lake in the mountains.
As you may have noticed, flying motor homes, like flying cars, haven’t really materialized yet. The idea of reaching new places that even off-road vehicles can’t travel is attractive but also expensive. It will also require a pilot’s license, while traditional campers and trailers require a regular driver’s license to operate. This is a great idea that can give rise to mobile staff and on-site laboratory functions.