Your own helicopter for under US$20,000
By Mike Hanlon
September 20, 2005
September 21, 2005 Flying is not a sport generally associated with those people who are light of wallet – which makes the Mosquito Ultralight helicopter something of a rarity. The entire kit for the Mosquito can be purchased for US$20,000 and if you think the minimalist Mosquito leaves you a bit vulnerable, there’s the fully enclosed Mosquito XE and XEL which can be purchased for US$23,000 apeice. Building the kits will cost you about 200 to 300 hours to build or you can have the plane built for you for a flat US$4000. Getting airborn for under US$20,000 in your own, new helicopter is quite a feat – we’re not aware of any other helicopter in this price category and on top of that, both Mosquito variants offer very low maintenance and operating costs.
The Mosquito’s designer John Uptigrove is a mech engineer by trade and like a lot of people alwaysdreamed of being able to fly. “By creating an ultralight helicopter it offers that ability without all the cost and hassle of dealing with air regs,” says Uptigrove. To date, Uptigrove’s Innovator Technologies has sold 37 mosquito kits (two in Japan, two in Canada, one in Spain, one in France, one in Belgium and the remainder in the US) and a dozen have been built to airworthiness by their purchasers at the time of going to press. The open frame Mosquito first became available in 2002 and the XE model was brought on in 2004.
All of the mosquitoes sold so far have been built in kit form, though the company has just begun offering a factory build program and the first factory-finished Mosquito is being finished as you read this.
The birds are typically used for “recreational flight for the most part,” says Uptigrove.
“Some plan to use them for flying into their favorite fishing hole. As a work machine they are ideal for ranch herding, flying fence lines or flying out to your farm machinery. I think every farmer and rancher should have one,” he jokes.
The Ultralight legal Mosquito and Mosquito XEL are only permitted to carry five gallons of fuel and hence have a range of just 60 miles. The XE can carry 12 gallons of fuel and so has a range of 150 miles.
Canadian-based Uptigrove originally charged less for his offspring, but as he explains, “I sell in US dollars as that is the primary market, but I live in Canada and the Canadian dollar keeps going up which is cutting into my profit in a bad way, so I have to keep raising my price to match.” You can actually start building your Mosquito for a lot less as the kit is sold in bite size chunks and the first kit group, the frame kit, sells for only US$2,995.00.
Uptigrove believes safety is paramount in aviation and puts his money where his mouth is. Provide proof that you have had helicopter training from a certified instructor to at least the "solo" signoff, or a minimum of 10 hours dual instruction by the time of your purchase of the last group (Rotor System and Blades) and Innovator will discount the final price by US$2,000 to help pay for your training.
If you’d like more info on the Mosquito, there’s a Mosquito information video pack that sells for US$30.00