What Is a Backpack Helicopter?

G. Wiesen
G. Wiesen
Woman holding a book
Woman holding a book

A backpack helicopter is a device that functions much like a helicopter, but is small enough to fit onto a person’s back during operation. Basically, this type of device uses the same type of powerful, spinning blade a helicopter uses to take off from the ground and sustain flight. This blade, however, is not attached to a large frame, machine, or vehicle, but is instead attached to a pack that is strapped onto a person’s body. A backpack helicopter can be worn to lift a person off the ground and then sustain flight for a certain period.

Often seen in various fictional settings, there have been a number of models of backpack helicopter that have actually been produced and tested. The basic function of a backpack helicopter is fairly simple, though designing it in a way that is both effective and safe is not necessarily easy. Much like a standard helicopter, this device features a primary rotor that is supported above the head of the wearer and spins to provide the force needed to lift the wearer off the ground. While standard helicopters include a rear rotor as well to stabilize the machine, a backpack helicopter typically does not do so, as this would require additional structures.

The way in which this stabilization can be provided to a backpack helicopter can vary. This has been one of the primary concerns in the design and development of these helicopters, and a number of solutions have been utilized with varying levels of success. One popular method is to utilize two rotors above the wearer, which spin in opposite directions to provide lift and stability. Another design has utilized small rockets on the edges of each rotor blade, which are used to keep the blades spinning while keeping the operator stable.

Ultimately, however, the design and concept behind a backpack helicopter is quite dangerous and fairly impractical. A person wearing this type of helicopter is not enclosed in any kind of frame that might protect him or her in case of a crash or mechanical failure. Wearers may be able to have a parachute in case of a mishap, though this is not always possible and does not guarantee safe use of the device. The very design of a backpack helicopter is also inherently questionable with regard to user safety, since the rotor blades spin fairly close to the user’s head, and the wearer has a tank of fuel strapped onto him or her, which could explode in the event of a crash landing.

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