AVIATION: Biggest Whirly-Bird

In Culver City, Calif., mechanics wheeled out the world's largest known helicopter for its first test flight last week. As the 125-ft.-long rotor blade began to twirl, the monster whirlybird rose aloft and flew around the field at a height of about 40 feet for 8.9 minutes. The XH-17, built for the Air Force by Planemaker Howard Hughes, is designed to lift for short distances loads of several tons (e.g., artillery, bridge sections, tanks and trucks) by straddling them like a lumber carrier. Power is provided by two General Electric turbojet engines...

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